Critical Mass

San Francisco State Poetry Center Award: Rigoberto Gonzalez


NBCC board member and Critical Mass blogger Rigoberto Gonzalez has won the San Francisco State Poetry Center Book Award for his collection, “Other Fugitives and Other Strangers.”

The judge was Bhanu Kapil, who writes:

“I was incredibly interested in the combination of structural coherence and a content that kept transgressing/distending—through the force of what was being said, of the physical moment being opened up—the conceptual membranes of the writer’s identity, a figuration linked with cross-cultural trajectories.  Inside the poems, for example, a body is “pierced,” “dilate[d],” “burst like an appendix,” and overwhelmed by a “passion so dangerous it’s fatal.”  Yet, the book does not break.  The formal constraint of a lyric mode, whether Gonzalez selects for prose or a progression of a traditional ode verse structure, does not break.  Gonzalez is asking us to imagine a body that remains intact.  Why?  The answer, at least in my reading, comes on the last page, when the book’s language selects for the body’s futurity, a survival that’s both ephemeral and strongly marked.”