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Rigoberto González: Sins of the father and hopes of a poet

by Tegan Mazur - Copy Editor
Tue, Apr 4th 2017 10:00 pm
Emma MisiaszekPHOTO EDITOR

Rigoberto González graced the halls of Cooper Hall on Wednesday, March 29, with his gentle, insightful precense. González talked with the Writer's Craft class and then performed a spectacular reading of his previous work and some work yet to be released for the audience gathered in Cooper's New York Room.
Emma MisiaszekPHOTO EDITOR Rigoberto González graced the halls of Cooper Hall on Wednesday, March 29, with his gentle, insightful precense. González talked with the Writer's Craft class and then performed a spectacular reading of his previous work and some work yet to be released for the audience gathered in Cooper's New York Room.
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 The Writers Forum is a place for authors like no other, and Rigoberto González's visit to Brockport showed the audience how true that sentiment is. From the moment he walked through the door with his maroon pants and bright red tie, it was clear everyone was in for a unique experience.

Writers Forum is always fascinating. You never know if what you think of the author, based on their writing, is going to match up with what they are like in person. Often times in fact, they are not. Rigoberto was no different in this regard; his prose and poetry are filled with a sharp intensity; even his photos convey some kind of raw fierceness. However, that is not the man who walked into Copper Hall. Instead the Writer's Craft class was treated to a gentle, soft spoken man. 

González did, however, for the duration of his visit, bring with him the fluid candidness that his works possess. He held nothing back with his discussion with the students of the class, talking about his life with generous honesty and openness, his struggles with his father, the death of his parents and his escape from migrant farm work.

González is the son of migrant workers and was born in California, but then moved back to Mexico. His first book was published in 1999, and since then he has published 16 additional books. He has also won several awards including The Barnes and Noble Writers for Writers award as well as a Guggenheim. González is also a professor of English at Rutgers-Newark, the State University of New Jersey. 

Much of his writing has to do with the tough turbulent period of his childhood in Mexico. González commented during his conversation with the Writer's Craft class about the struggle he faced trying to go to college as well, facing strong opposition from his father. 

"The biggest dream for me in some ways, was for me to be able to work alongside of them," González said. 

González told the story of how he secretly applied and got accepted into college, and had to learn quickly to do everything for himself. 

To hear him talk about himself in person was to hear an author at work. The way he spoke was as if he was reading from a book. He spoke like a true author and a true orator. Even with such tragic sensitive material he still managed to work in some softer comedic moments for the students.

González's presence made it easy for the students to interact with him - his voice low and calm - inquiring the names of those who asked questions. He gave the impression that he wanted to get as much from the discussion as he put into it.

González's reading was from his poetry and also from his newest collection that will be coming out soon. Like the author's who visited before him, González had two distinct voices, the voice he spoke with and the voice that he read with. His reading was captivating and conveyed his well-paced, thoughtful sorrow.

González has written many forms of genre everything from poetry to nonfiction to fiction. However over the course of the night it seemed that his true passion was his non-fiction. He is truly devoted to telling his own story, and makes it come to life all over again. The audience in the New York Room was enraptured by his story, whether it was poetry or prose.

The Writer's Craft class was also impressed with González's work and his reading. Mary Rogers, a junior in the Writer's Craft class, enjoyed González's profound presence.

 "He was definitely my favorite [speaker] so far," Rogers said.

González gave the audience of that night a new flavor of authorship to add to the long collection of visitors of the Writers Forum. The next author to visit will be Noelle De Jesus on Wednesday, April 19.


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