Poet examines his Latino identity – and snakes

What do you do when you come face to face with a rattlesnake?

In Ray Gonzalez’s case, you write a poem about it.

Gonzalez, an award-winning poet who examines his Latino identity in his work, will talk about his work during two events at Arizona State University, on March 12.

He will be the guest at a free Public Craft Q&A at 1 p.m. in Piper Writers House, and at 7:45 p.m. in the Memorial Union’s Pima Auditorium (230) he will read his poetry and sign books.

Gonzalez is the author of 10 books of poetry, two collections of short stories, and three collections of short essays. His most recent book of poetry, “Faith Run,” was a finalist for the 2010 Minnesota Book for Poetry, an award he's won twice before.

His poetry has appeared in the 1999, 2000, and 2003 editions of “The Best American Poetry” and “The Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses 2000.” He has served as poetry editor of The Bloomsbury Review for 22 years and founded LUNA, a poetry journal, in 1998.

Raised in El Paso, Texas, much of his work draws from his Mexican ancestry, as well as his memories of growing up in the American Southwest. Gonzalez is a professor in the MFA Creative Writing Program at the University of Minnesota.

Gonzalez has had a wide variety of experience in teaching and writing, beyond his university classes and books of poems, stories and essays. He taught writing classes for juvenile delinquents at a detention center in Colorado, then became editor-in-chief of La Voz, the Latino newspaper of Colorado.

Gonzalez’s encounter with the snake is the subject of “The Snake Poems,” included in his fourth collection of poetry, “The Heat of Arrivals.” His other poems have such titles as “Praise the Tortilla, Praise Menudo, Praise Chorizo," "The Angels of Juarez, Mexico" and "The Poor Angel."

Both of Gonzalez’s appearances are sponsored by the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing and Superstition Review, ASU’s online literary journal.

For more information call the Piper Center at (480) 965-6018, or go to www.asu.edu/piper.