Bio & Response

Ray Gonzalez

Ray Gonzalez is the author of Memory Fever (University of Arizona Press, 1999), a memoir about growing up in the Southwest, Turtle Pictures (Arizona, 2000), which received the 2001 Minnesota Book Award for Poetry, and a collection of essays, The Underground Heart: A Return to a Hidden Landscape (Arizona, 2002), which received the 2003 Carr P. Collins/ Texas Institute of Letters Award for Best Book of Non-fiction, was named one of ten Best Southwest Books of the Year by the Arizona Humanities Commission, named one of the Best Non-fiction Books of the Year by the Rocky Mountain News, named a Minnesota Book Award Finalist in Memoir, and selected as a Book of the Month by the El Paso Public Library. He is the author of six other books of poetry, including three from BOA Editions--The Heat of Arrivals (1997 PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles Book Award), Cabato Sentora (2000 Minnesota Book Award Finalist), and The Hawk Temple at Tierra Grande (winner of a 2003 Minnesota Book Award for Poetry, a 2002 nominee of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. His awards include a 2003 Lifetime Achievement Award in Literature from The Border Regional Library Association, a 2002 Loft McKnight Fellowship in Poetry, a 1993 Before Columbus Foundation American Book Award for Excellence in Editing, and a 1988 Colorado Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts.

Question #1: In DR #2 Johannes Göransson makes the observation regarding Russell Edson that, "Sometimes, when I've read his poems I start to write like him too. It's infectious." Whose poems get under your skin in this way? Whose poems should get under more people's skin? Also, how does the pp/ff form contribute to or enable what Göransson calls 'infectious'?

The great Uruguay writer Eduardo Galeano deserves a larger audience among writers of flash fictions and prose poetry. His work is magical and political, and weaves the mystery and formless track of prose poems with the mad fabulism of the best Latin American writers. His classic The Book of Embraces encompasses history, culture, and the life of the writer in tiny tales and prose poems that redefine the place of self, tone, and image in the genre of the brief form. It challenges us to use language in fresh ways, as we write brief prose, and says the writer of prose poetry and flash fictions can be experimental while grasping the traditional concerns of our time. This means his short-short prose rises above any poetic school or dogma and shows what happens when a writer truly lets go of ego, stance, and the need to jockey for position within the genre. Galeano has been a great influence on my own work because he teaches me how to let go of my subjective past as I take the timeless forces of resisting by setting it down on the page. We have to keep going and voices like Galeanos can laugh at us, or scold us, or throw carrots in our path as we move toward a response we hope he will notice.