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Ray Gonzalez Honored by the Library of Congress

Professor awarded fellowship that supports the writing of poetry
December 20, 2016

Professor and poet Ray Gonzalez was selected for the 2017 Witter Bynner Fellowship by the 21st Poet Laureate at the Library of Congress, Juan Felipe Herrera.

The fellowship supports the writing of poetry and is awarded at the Library of Congress. Herrera will introduce a program celebrating Gonzalez at 6:30 pm on Tuesday, March 21, in Washington, DC. The event is free and open to the public. Gonzalez also receives $10,000 and participates in reading and recording sessions at the Library.

"Ray Gonzalez, a longtime poet, diamond-eyed traveler, observer of our Southwestern landscapes and peoples, is a most worthy writer to receive the Witter Bynner Fellowship," Herrera stated. "As a poet, he has covered much ground—not only as a professor and founder of many literary events throughout the nation, but also as a pioneer in experimental poetics; El Paso, Texas histories and narratives; and incessant literary production. Ray has been at this for over four decades, not to mention his contributions in flash fiction, fiction, non-fiction, and his deep knowledge of American Pop musical culture. He is most deserving, most talented, and a true treasure for all of us."

Gonzalez is the 20th recipient of the fellowship. There is no application process; the Poet Laureate makes the selection. 

"I am honored to receive this fellowship," Gonzalez declared, "in a time when American poetry has a large readership and is influencing our culture in many ways. I thank Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera for his belief in my work and for showing me, over the decades of artistic activism, what community is all about. I also wish to remember my late teacher and poet, Robert Burlingame, for opening my eyes to poetry in 1973 and changing my life."

Gonzalez, who teaches creative writing and literature, is the author of 15 books of poetry, including Beautiful Wall (2015), The Hawk Temple at Tierra Grande (2002), and Turtle Pictures (2001), all Minnesota Book Award winners. He is the author of three essay and two short story collections, as well as the editor of 12 anthologies, most recently Sudden Fiction Latino: Short-Short Stories from the United States and Latin America (2010). For 35 years, he has served as the poetry editor of The Bloomsbury Review. Professor Gonzalez has been honored with the Latino Heritage Award in Literature, the Con Tinta Lifetime Achievement Award in Latino Literature, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Southwest Border Regional Library Association. At the University, he was named a CLA Scholar of the College (2006-09) and a McKnight Land Grant Professor.