The Witter Bynner Fellowship is awarded annually by the Library of Congress to poets chosen by the U.S. Poet Laureate. The 2017 Witter Bynner Fellow is the Twin Cities’ own Ray Gonzalez, who was selected by U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera. At this special Twin Cities event, both poets will read from their work and participate in a dialogue about poetry moderated by Robert Casper, head of the Poetry and Literature Center of the Library of Congress. This event is co-sponsored by The Loft Literary Center, and a special introduction will be offered by Alayne Hopkins from the Minnesota Center for the Book.
Ray Gonzalez is the author of fifteen books of poetry. His latest book, Beautiful Wall (BOA Editions), received last year’s Minnesota Book Award for Poetry, as did his 2000 title Turtle Pictures. His poems have appeared in several editions of The Best American Poetry and in The Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses 2000. Gonzalez was awarded a 2015 Con Tinta Lifetime Achievement Award in Latino Literature and a 2002 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Southwest Border Regional Library Association. Gonzalez was selected for the 2017 Witter Bynner Fellowship by the U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera. He is a Professor in the MFA Creative Writing Program at the University of Minnesota.
The son of migrant farm workers, Juan Felipe Herrera was educated at UCLA and Stanford University, and he earned his MFA from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. In addition to publishing more than a dozen collections of poetry, Herrera has written short stories, young adult novels, and children’s literature. In 2012, Herrera was named California’s poet laureate, and the U.S. poet laureate in 2015. He has won the Hungry Mind Award of Distinction, the Focal Award, two Latino Hall of Fame Poetry Awards, and a PEN West Poetry Award. His honors include the UC Berkeley Regent’s Fellowship as well as fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and the Stanford Chicano Fellows. He has also received several grants from the California Arts Council.
For more information on the Twin Cities Book Festival, visit raintaxi.org.