Rigoberto González

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Rigoberto González
Rigoberto González.jpeg
Born (1970-07-18) July 18, 1970 (age 52)
Bakersfield, California, U.S.
  • Professor
  • writer
  • critic
Notable worksWhat Drowns the Flowers in Your Mouth
Antonio's Card
Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa
The Mariposa Club
Unpeopled Eden
Notable awardsPEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry, Lannan Literary Fellowship, The Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement (The Publishing Triangle)
2014 USA Rolón Fellowship
Guggenheim Fellowship
NEA Fellowship
American Book Award
The Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize (Academy of American Poets)
The Poetry Center Book Award
The Shelley Memorial Award (Poetry Society of America)
NYFA Fellowship
Lambda Literary Award
Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award

Rigoberto González (born July 18, 1970) is an American writer and book critic. He is an editor and author of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and bilingual children's books, and self-identifies in his writing as a gay Chicano. His most recent project is Abuela in Shadow, Abuela in Light, a literary memoir. His previous memoir What Drowns the Flowers in Your Mouth: A Memoir of Brotherhood was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Autobiography. He is the 2015 recipient of the Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Publishing Triangle,[1] and the 2020 recipient of the PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Bakersfield, California, on July 18, 1970, and raised in Michoacán, Mexico, he is the son and grandson of migrant farm workers, both parents now deceased. His extended family migrated back to California in 1980 and returned to Mexico in 1992. González remained alone in the U.S. to complete his education. Details of his troubled childhood in Michoacán and his difficult adolescence as an immigrant in California are the basis for his coming of age memoir Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa.

During his college years he also performed with various Baile Folklorico and Flamenco dance troupes. He earned a B.A. degree in Humanities and Social Sciences Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of California, Riverside,[3] and graduate degrees from the University of California, Davis, and Arizona State University in Tempe. His former teachers include the Chicano poets Gary Soto, Francisco X. Alarcón, Lorna Dee Cervantes, Pat Mora and Alberto Ríos, and the African American writers Clarence Major and Jewell Parker Rhodes.[citation needed]

Professional background[edit]

In 1997 González enrolled in a PhD program at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, but dropped out a year later to join his partner in New York City and to pursue a writing career. The two published their first books only a few months apart in the spring of 1999 and received numerous awards and recognitions for their works. In 2001, González pursued a career as an academic, holding distinguished teaching appointments at The New School, the University of Toledo, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Queens College/City University of New York.

González has lived and worked mostly in New York City and currently teaches at the writing program of Rutgers University in Newark,[4] where he is distinguished professor of English and director of the MFA Program in Creative Writing. The recipient of a Lannan Literary Award, United States Artist Rolón Fellowship,[5] Guggenheim Fellowship and a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, the American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation, The Lenore Marshall Prize of the Academy of American Poets, The Poetry Center Book Award from San Francisco State University, the Shelley Memorial Award of the Poetry Society of America,[6] a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship,[7] a Lambda Literary Award,[8] the Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award[9] and of various international artist residencies including stays in Spain, Brazil, Costa Rica, Scotland, Switzerland and Italy (twice), he wrote a monthly Chicano/Latino book review column, from 2002 to 2012, for the El Paso Times. On July 22, 2012, González reached a milestone when he published his 200th review with the Texas newspaper.[10] He is also contributing editor for Poets & Writers Magazine, a former executive board member of the National Book Critics Circle, a former contributing writer for Lambda Literary and the Los Angeles Review of Books, and a founding member of the Advisory Circle of Con Tinta, a collective of Chicano/Latino activist-writers.

In 2008 he was named to the position of 2009 Poet-in-Residence by the Board of Trustees of The Frost Place, the farm house of Robert Frost located in New Hampshire. He was also named one of 100 Men and Women Who Made 2008 a Year to Remember by Out magazine. In 2009, My Latino Voice named him one of the 25 most influential GLBT Latinos in the country.[11]

Respected by members of the literary community for his versatility with literary genres and for his advocacy of emerging writers, González has championed a number of efforts to give visibility to marginalized voices. He curated and hosted The Quetzal Quill, a reading series at the Cornelia Street Café in Manhattan, and featured a number of poets on The Poetry Foundation blog Harriet,[12] and on the National Book Critics Circle blog Critical Mass through the Small Press Spotlight Series.[13] He wrote 109 entries for Harriet and "spotlighted" 66 authors on Critical Mass. He has also profiled for Poets & Writers Magazine the careers of Native American poets Sherwin Bitsui and Jake Skeets, Guyanese poet Rajiv Mohabir, Vietnamese American writer Ocean Vuong, Cambodian American poet Monica Sok, Latinx writers Alex Espinoza, Eduardo C. Corral, David Tomas Martinez, Javier Zamora, Erika L. Sánchez, Carmen Giménez Smith, and Kali Fajardo-Anstine, and African-American author Jacqueline Woodson. He retired his monthly column on Latinx literature for NBC-Latino online at the end of 2019.

On March 30, 2016, González was named, along with 9 other prominent writers, critic-at-large at the L.A. Times.[14] He also served single terms on the Board of Trustees of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP).[15] and on the Board of Governors of the Poetry Society of America (PSA).[16] As of 2018, he is a member of The Center for Fiction Writers Council [17] and serves on the board of Zoeglossia: A Community for Poets with Disabilities.

On December 6, 2016, González was celebrated for his work and literary activism at Poets House.[18] The speakers at his tribute included Eduardo C. Corral, Ada Limón, Natalie Diaz, Saeed Jones, and the Poet Laureate of the United States, Juan Felipe Herrera.

As of 2018, González sits on the Editorial Advisory Board of the Machete Series (Ohio State University Press), which "showcases fresh stories, innovative forms, and books that break new aesthetic ground in nonfiction—memoir, personal and lyric essay, literary journalism, cultural meditations, short shorts, hybrid essays, graphic pieces, and more—from authors whose writing has historically been marginalized, ignored, and passed over".[19]

As of 2019, he is faculty of the Randolph College Low-Res MFA in creative writing.[20]

As of 2020, González serves as the new editor of the University of Arizona Press Camino del Sol Latinx Literary Series.[21] His advisory board includes the notable writers Francisco Cantú, Sandra Cisneros, Eduardo C. Corral, Jeannine Capó Crucet, Angie Cruz, Natalie Diaz, Aracelis Girmay, Ada Limón, Jaime Manrique, Justin Torres, Luis Alberto Urrea, and Helena María Viramontes.

As of 2021, González serves on the editorial board of the Immigrant Writing Series at Black Lawrence Press, alongside Abayomi Animashaun, Sun Yung Shin, and Ewa Chrusciel.[22]

Published works[edit]

Full-length poetry collections

  • To the Boy Who Was Night (Four Way Books, 2023), ISBN 9781954245525
  • The Book of Ruin (Four Way Books, 2019), ISBN 9781945588327, OCLC 1041561471
  • Unpeopled Eden (Four Way Books, 2013), ISBN 9781935536369, OCLC 828834171
  • Black Blossoms (Four Way Books, 2011), ISBN 9781935536154, OCLC 701242445
  • Other Fugitives and Other Strangers (Tupelo Press, 2006), OCLC 329269270
  • So Often the Pitcher Goes to Water until It Breaks (University of Illinois Press, 1999), ISBN 9780252067983, OCLC 246271983

Poetry chapbook

  • Our Lady of the Crossword (A Midsummer Night's Press, 2015)

Bilingual children's books

  • Antonio’s Card/ La Tarjeta de Antonio (Children's Book Press, 2005)
  • Soledad Sigh-Sighs/ Soledad Suspiros (Children's Book Press, 2003).

Early reader books in Spanish for Benchmark Education Company

  • Allá en el rancho grande
  • Bronceado por la nieve
  • La chinampa de Xóchitl
  • ¿Cómo se llama el conejito?
  • Frida y La Adelita
  • La hormiguita Sarita
  • La laguna de los lirios de agua
  • La magia de La Guajira
  • Los músicos de Morelia
  • La piñata de tecolote
  • La parcela
  • Octavio Larrazano: campeón del pueblo
  • Operación Deditos Envueltos
  • Perdidos en El Yunque
  • Roque
  • Sebastián, joven historiano
  • Tere y el taller de los alebrijes
  • Tiembla la tierra


Memoirs and other nonfiction

Short story collections

Works edited

  • Ploughshares (Spring 2019, Volume 45, No. 1)
  • Xicano Duende: A Select Anthology (Bilingual Press, 2011)
  • Camino del Sol: Fifteen Years of Latina and Latino Writing (University of Arizona Press, 2010)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Rigoberto González recommends his two favorite books of 2017". Los Angeles Times. December 15, 2017.
  2. ^ "2020 PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry". February 12, 2020.
  3. ^ "UCR Alumni Association". Archived from the original on June 10, 2008. Retrieved June 8, 2008.
  4. ^ "MFA in Creative Writing". Rutgers SASN.
  5. ^ "2014 United States Artists Fellows". 2014 United States Artists Fellows.
  6. ^ "Rigoberto Gonzalez - Poetry Society of America". www.poetrysociety.org. Archived from the original on 2011-07-02.
  7. ^ "New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA)". Archived from the original on September 13, 2011. Retrieved September 7, 2011.
  8. ^ "Winners of the 26th Annual Lambda Literary Awards Announced". June 3, 2014.
  9. ^ "Writers for Writers Award, Editor's Award". Poets & Writers. February 12, 2008.
  10. ^ Olivas, Daniel A. (July 23, 2012). "La Bloga: Celebrating the 200th El Paso Times book review by Rigoberto González".
  11. ^ Gonzalez, Antonio. "25 Most Influential GLBT Latinos". My Latino Voice. Archived from the original on 26 November 2010. Retrieved 19 September 2009. Gonzalez is an award-winning author of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and bilingual children's books, and self-identifies in his writing as a gay Chicano. He is also contributing editor for Poets & Writers Magazine, a former executive board member of the National Book Critics Circle (2007–2015), and a founding member of the Advisory Circle of Con Tinta, a collective of Chicano/Latino activist-writers.
  12. ^ Foundation, Poetry (May 25, 2021). "Harriet Books". Poetry Foundation.
  13. ^ "National Book Critics Circle - : SMALL PRESS SPOTLIGHT: SEAN NEVIN". bookcritics.org. Archived from the original on 2009-02-01.
  14. ^ "Introducing the L.A. Times Critics-at-Large". Los Angeles Times. March 30, 2016.
  15. ^ "AWP".
  16. ^ "Board". Poetry Society of America.
  17. ^ "Writers Council".
  18. ^ "A Celebration of Rigoberto González".
  19. ^ "Machete Series".
  20. ^ College, Randolph. "MFA in Creative Writing at Randolph College". MFA in Creative Writing at Randolph College.
  21. ^ "Rigoberto González appointed editor of award-winning Camino del Sol series".
  22. ^ Series, Immigrant (7 June 2021). "Immigrant Writing Series".
  23. ^ For commentary on this book, see: Wild, Peter (2011). Paradise of Desire: Eleven Palm Springs Novels. Tucson, AZ: Estate of Peter Wild. p. 281. OCLC 748584112.


External links[edit]