In this collection of poems, written during and immediately after two years on the road as United States Poet Laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera reports back on his travels through contemporary America. Poems written in the heat of witness, and later, in quiet moments of reflection, coalesce into an urgent, trenchant, and yet hope-filled portrait. The struggle and pain of those pushed to the edges, the shootings and assaults and injustices of our streets, the lethal border game that separates and divides, and then: a shift of register, a leap for peace and a view onto the possibility of unity.


Every Day We Get More Illegal is a jolt to the conscience—filled with the multiple powers of the many voices and many textures of every day in America.


"Former Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera should also be Laureate of our Millennium—a messenger who nimbly traverses the transcendental liminalities of the United States to then speak from the body politic in confrontation with an enemy system that threatens the networks that make us ethical and humane. Every book he writes becomes his best book and this collection is no exception. He brings unity and vulnerability to this wide-ranging and prophetic volume."—Carmen Giménez Smith, author of Be Recorder


"In Every Day We Get More Illegal Juan Felipe Herrera shows off all of his styles. These poems talk directly to America, to migrant people, and to working people. Herrera has created a chorus to remind us we are alive and beautiful and powerful."—José Olivarez, author of Citizen Illegal


"Few poets have more laurels upon which they could rest than Juan Felipe Herrera. As the former Poet Laureate of the United States he's done more for poetry, on the page and off, than most anyone living. But in his new Every Day We Get More Illegal, Herrera not only stretches, complicates, broadens his own oeuvre, he challenges and expands what might be possible in the space of a poem. Herrera reaches out beyond language—'the fervent bones'—beyond the lyric medium itself, towards what is too urgently broken for mere words: our moment, our nation, our humanity. 'We brought in a new time,' he writes, 'this is the new time.'"—Kaveh Akbar, author of Calling a Wolf a Wolf

Every Day We Get More Illegal by Juan Felipe Herrera

  • City Lights Publishers 2020

    New paperback

    96 pages