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April 12, 1952
Poetry, novels, memoirs, children's literature
April 12, 1952 (age 70)
Gary Anthony Soto is an American poet, novelist, and memoirist. He is known for a body of work that deals with the realities of growing up in Mexican American communities.
Petty Crimes, New and Selected Poems, Living Up the Street
Gary Soto was born in Fresno, California, to working-class Mexican-American parents. As a teenager and college student, he worked in the fields of the San Joaquin Valley, chopping beets and cotton and picking grapes. He was not academically motivated as a child, but he became interested in poetry during his high school years. He attended Fresno City College and California State University–Fresno, and he earned an MFA from the University of California–Irvine in 1976.
In poems, novels, short stories, plays and over two dozen books for young people, Soto recreates the world of the barrio, the urban, Spanish-speaking neighborhood where he was raised, bringing the sights, sounds and smells vividly to life within the pages of his books. Soto’s poetry and prose focus on everyday experiences while evoking the harsh forces that often shape life for Chicanos, including racism, poverty, and crime.
Soto has received the Andrew Carnegie Medal and fellowships from the California Arts Council, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. He lives in Northern California.
“It appears these days I don't have much of a life because my nose is often stuck in a book. But I discovered that reading builds a life inside the mind.”
“I was the first Chicano to write in complete sentences.”