Publication Date: March 2013
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In the Mexican Catholic tradition, retablos are ornamental structures made of carved wood framing an oil painting of a devotional image, usually a patron saint. Acclaimed author and essayist Rigoberto Gonzalez commemorates the passion and the pain of these carvings in his new volume "Red-Inked Retablos, "a moving memoir of human experience and thought.This frank new collection masterfully combines accounts from Gonzalez's personal life with reflections on writers who have influenced him. The collection offers an in-depth meditation on the development of gay Chicano literature and the responsibilities of the Chicana/o writer.Widely acclaimed for giving a voice to the Chicano GLBT community, Gonzalez's writing spans a wide range of genres: poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and bilingual books for children and young adults. Introduced by Women's Studies professor Maythee Rojas, "Retablos "collects thirteen pieces that together provide a narrative of Gonzalez's life from his childhood through his career as a writer, critic, and mentor. In "Red-Inked Retablos, "Gonzalez continues to expand his oeuvre on "mariposa" (literally, "butterfly") memory, a genre he pioneered in which Chicano/a writers openly address non-traditional sexuality. For Gonzalez, mariposa memory is important testimony not only about reconfiguring personal identity in relation to masculinity, culture, and religion. It's also about highlighting values like education, shaping a sex-positive discourse, and exercising agency through a public voice. It's about making the queer experience a Chicano experience and the Chicano experience a queer one.
About the Author
Rigoberto Gonzalez is the author 15 books, including the poetry collections OUR LADY OF THE CROSSWORD (A Midsummer Night's Press, 2015), Unpeopled Eden, which won the Lambda Literary Award and the Lenore Marshall Prize from the Academy of American Poets, and OTHER FUGITIVES AND OTHER STRANGERS (Tupelo Press, 2006). A professor of English at Rutgers-Newark, the State University of New Jersey, he is the recipient of Guggenheim, NEA and USA Rolon fellowships; a NYFA grant in poetry; the Shelley Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America; The Poetry Center Book Award; the Barnes & Noble Writer for Writers Award; and the 2015 Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Publishing Triangle.