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Rigoberto González: On Being a Chicano Poet

August 31, 2008

I am Chicano. Such a simple sentence, such a complex statement. The phrase is an act of empowerment, a recognition of cultural lineage, an affirmation of identity. I can make Chicano relevant to this blog and the Poetry Foundation’s invitation to speak to issues of poetry and poetics by declaring that I am a Chicano poet. That I write Chicano poetry. I can already feel people cringe at the language I’m using. But the truth is that I’m not interested in speaking to those who scoff at poetry that dares to call itself political or that dares to engage ethnicity, history, and the personal narrative. A much healthier and more constructive exercise is to address those who don’t know what Chicano poetry is (and who want to learn) and those who are uncertain about committing to a word that is more than a word—it is a declaration of activism.

Read González’s essay in its entirety HERE. IT was published in November 2006 at

Rigoberto González is the author of six books, most recently the poetry collection, Other Fugitives and Other Strangers (Tupelo Press), and the memoir Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa (U of Wisconsin Press). The recipient of Guggenheim and NEA fellowships, he is contributing editor for Poets and Writers, a member of the National Book Critics Circle, and is on the Advisory Circle of Con Tinta, a collective of Chicano/ Latino activist writers. Photo © Marion Ettlinger.

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