32 Books in 32 Days – Day 23: Faith Run by Ray Gonzalez

Each day leading up to the April 17 announcement of the 22nd Annual Minnesota Book Awards, we highlight one of the thirty-two finalists. Today, we feature


Poetry Finalist,
Faith Run
Ray Gonzalez

An excerpt from an interview with Ray Gonzalez:

“I think my recent work has been more surreal than my older poetry because of the influence of prose poetry, which I write a great deal now, and the impact of the ever changing poetic scene in the U.S… In Faith Run, perhaps the opening section sets up the idea of a native leaving home for good and there are various poems about the art of poetry. The second section contains most of the poems written about older poets, something about their lives in relation to mine, and what I have learned from there. The third section has most of the poems about family and pondering the idea of someday moving back home with the sense that my faith in the desert landscape must keep up or keep running with me, if I do go home. The title Faith Run is about an older poet having faith in where he came from, while at the same time believing that the modern world of writing, publishing, teaching, and editing has things to offer that mean something to someone who grew up in a very isolated part of the country.”

The author’s odes and meditations are in conversation with a wide range of poets such as Elizabeth Bishop, Li-Young Lee and Allen Ginsberg, and with the men and women of his life. This collection’s tender, haunting and transformative poetry contains the minutest of details on big subjects.


Ray Gonzalez is the author of ten books of poetry, three collections of essays, two collections of short stories, and a memoir. His poetry has appeared in the 1999, 2000, and 2003 editions of The Best American Poetry and in The Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses 2000. Two of his books of poetry, Turtle Pictures and The Hawk Temple at Tierra Grande, won Minnesota Book Awards in 2001 and 2003. His book The Heart of Arrivals won the 1997 PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles Book Award. Ray is a professor in the MFA Creative Writing Program at the University of Minnesota and also teaches in the Solstice Low-Residency MFA Program at Pine Manor College in Boston.


“In his moving poem ‘Not Today,’ Ray Gonzalez writes: ‘When the artifacts of memory/disintegrated into nothing,/you were simply the signature in/fading ink.’ Gonzalez’s true signature is found in his poems that live on in the ‘territories in the mind.’ Faith Run is an extraordinary book of poems.” – Juan Delgado, author of A Rush of Hands

“For Gonzalez, it seems, we humans can transcend the ordinary—just as these poems transcend genre and create a poetic realm of their own—but we never actually leave behind our rooted, earthbound lives. Although our landscape may be invisible to us, we never escape its powerful magnetism. Nor do we ever abandon our ancestors. No matter how fast or far we run, we can never outrun them. Like gravity, their influence is inexorable. These poems enchant with their language, which often leaps unexpectedly from worldly to otherworldly in the same stanza, but they cling and linger in our memories—not unlike the voices of friends and relatives.” – Amazon

“The work of award-winning poet and editor Ray Gonzalez is inextricably linked to his Mexican ancestry and his American southwestern upbringing. Born and raised in El Paso, Texas, Gonzalez has employed Chicano imagery in his poetry, oftentimes alluding to America’s indigenous past, and particularly to the southwestern desert cultures. Gonzalez has acknowledged that, at a young age, he was influenced by the poets Pablo Neruda and Robert Bly. His poems contain lines that provide a window into his yearning to be free of social constraints. ‘I live like a follower, / a noise in the trees no one can claim,’ he writes in the title poem of From the Restless Roots, which was published in 1986. – Poetry Foundation (Read more about Ray Gonzalez at the Poetry Foundation)


Marianne Combs, emcee for the twenty-second annual Minnesota Book Awards gala, featured Gonzalez on State of the Arts, March 29, 2010 – Minnesota Poetry: Ray Gonzalez’ “Bob Dylan in El Paso, 1963”


Award winners will be announced at the 22nd Annual Minnesota Book Awards Gala on Saturday
, April 17, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, in downtown Saint Paul. The opening reception begins at 6:30 p.m.; followed by the awards ceremony at 8 p.m. Tickets are $40 and are available by clicking here or calling 651-222-3242.

Have you read Faith Run? What are your thoughts? We welcome your comments!

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