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Southern Colorado Reading Series featured Rigoberto Gonzalez

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Rigoberto Gonzalez – The Flight South of the Monarch ButterflyRigoberto Gonzalez – The Flight South of the Monarch ButterflyA contemporary poet had students awestruck as he read from a variety of his poetry collections that had used heartrending twist through childhood memories, love, and sexuality.

On Sept. 17, an audience of nearly 50 students listened intently as special guest Rigoberto Gonzalez shared his poetry for the first presentation of the Southern Colorado Reading Series for the fall semester. Listen to his reading: Rigoberto Gonzalez – The Flight South of the Monarch Butterfly

During Gonzalez’s presentation, outburst of applause proved that many attendants were moved by his readings. One attendee even responded with a simple “yes” after Gonzalez read his poem, “Slaughter House.”

The reaction of the audience was predicted by Assistant Professor Juan Morales, coordinator of SOCO Reading Series, during his introduction speech.Rigoberto Gonzalez reads from his book

“Gonzalez’s work resonates with reader by making the taboo accessible with out being apologetic,” Morales said, “But it also evokes compassion.”
Morales said when he first came across Gonzalez’s work he was intrigued by how it conveyed the world of working class people and migrant workers. He also said he was captured by the way Gonzalez used the voices of the living while mingling them in the same realms of the deceased.

During the presentation, Gonzalez read many pieces from his first publication, “So Often the Pitcher Goes to Water until It Breaks.” This book was published in 1999 and Gonzalez said since the release of that publication he has been traveling all over the U.S. presenting his work at readings.

“I travel about every two months,” Gonzalez said, “But I’ve never done a reading in Colorado.”

Gonzalez said he was invited to read by his friend Juan Morales.  Morales said that this particular presentation was co-sponsored by Office of Student Activities, in conjunction with Hispanic Heritage Month.

Morales said he thought Gonzalez was an ideal candidate for this presentation of the SOCO Reading Series: first as a respected writer, second as a respected Chicano.

Gonzalez was born in Bakersfield, Calif., and raised in Michoacan, Mexico. Gonzales said his first language was Spanish and his family moved back to the U.S. in the 1980s when he was 10-years-old.

His family worked as migrant farm works, and Gonzalez said his life experiences as a migrant farm worker as well as his experiences of living a different cultural lifestyle were, and continue to be, his largest inspirations for his poetry and creative pieces.

Gonzalez has published two books of poetry, “So Often the Pitcher Goes to Water until It Breaks,” a National Poetry Series selection, and “Other Fugitives and other Strangers.”

Gonzalez said he considers himself a poet first and foremost, however Gonzalez has other published creative works: a novel, “Crossing Vines;” a story collection “Men without Bliss;” a memoir “Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa” and two children’s books, “Soledad Sigh-Sighs” and “Antonio’s Card.”

Although humble about his success, Gonzalez is also the recipient of Guggeheim and National Endowment of the Arts fellowship, and a contributing editor for Poets and Writers Magazine. He is currently on the board of directors of the National Book Circle, and is on the Advisory Circle of Con Tinta, a collective of Chicano/Latino activist writers.

In addition to published success, Gonzales has been writing monthly book review columns for the El Paso Times of Texas for seven years. He even blogs regularly at “Critical Mass.”

Gonzalez is also an active Associate Professor of English for the writing program at the Rutgers University in Newark, N.J.

Even though Gonzalez is an Associate Professor in New Jersey, he currently lives in Queens, N.Y. He said he moved to New York in 1998 and has been there since, because he loves living in the big city and he said he loves that the city is “linguistically diverse.”

“It’s a city with speed,” said Gonzales, “And some people can’t handle it, but I love it.”

Gonzalez has a third collection of poetry that will be published in 2011 by Four Way Books called “Black Blossoms.” His other creative works can be purchased at the CSU-Pueblo book store.

Morales said he encourages all students and community members to attend the up coming readings, including a presentation by Raza Ali Hasan on Oct. 27 in the OUC Cottonwood Room, as well as others that will be presented throughout the school year.

Notice of these readings will be sent to student email accounts as well as posted on flyers that will be hung in buildings throughout the campus, prior to the event.