José Montoya

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José Montoya (May 28, 1932 – September 25, 2013) was a poet and an artist from Sacramento, California.[1] He was one of the most influential Chicano bilingual poets. He has published many well-known poems in anthologies and magazines. He was Sacramento's poet laureate.

Making his start soon after the Korean War when he entered San Diego City College as an art student, Montoya later transferred to the California College of Arts & Crafts in Oakland, California. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1962. In the early 1970s, he joined students and members of the Chicano community to found the Rebel Chicano Art Front, later renamed the Royal Chicano Air Force, which organized numerous cultural, educational, and political activities in the Sacramento area. He began his career by teaching High School until he earned his MA in 1971, at California State University. He then taught for 25 years in the Department of Art Education at CSUS.

His son Richard Montoya is a member of the performance troupe Culture Clash.

"El Louie"[edit]

   Hoy enterraron al Louie.
   And San Pedro o san pinche
   Are in for it. And those
   Times of the forties
   And the early fifties
   Lost un vato de atolle.

El Louie, 1969

"El Louie" is probably Montoya's most famous and most often anthologized poem. With compassion and anger, it tells the story of Louie, a pachuco from San José and California's Central Valley who is a popular local figure. After he comes back from the war in Korea his life disintegrates as he continues coming into conflict with the white-dominated world of California; he is a hero and a loser, hocking his combat medals for booze and drugs; he dies alone in squalid conditions. Louie is not elevated to gangster sainthood, but he is "recognized as a normative model" rather than portrayed as deviant, dangerous or insignificant (Hernandez 76).


  • Montoya, José. El Sol y Los De Abajo and other R.C.A.F. poems por José Montoya. San Francisco: Ediciones Pocho-che, 1972.
  • Montoya, José. In Formation: 20 Years of Joda. Chusma House Publications, 1992.
  • Trio Casindio and the Royal Chicano Air Force. 20 Years of Songs by José Montoya.
  • Montoya, José. Los Compas: Chale Gallego y'l Xorty. Copilot Press, 2010.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Magagnini, Stephen (1932-05-28). "Jose Montoya, Sacramento poet and artist, has died - Obituaries - The Sacramento Bee". Retrieved 2013-09-27. 


External links[edit]