“If you believe that the most important thing any piece of writing can do is to drop the reader into the center of an author's thoughts, then Gary Soto's What Poets Are Like is the book for you. It is funny, heartfelt, instructive and erudite while remaining, in a storyteller's way, wryly entertaining. Check it out, you won't be disappointed.”
—Oscar Hijuelos, author of The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love
With a sharp sense of storytelling and a keen wit, Gary Soto offers more than 60 short autobiographical essays in What Poets Are Like: Up and Down with the Writing Life (August 2013; Sasquatch Books; $15.00). This engaging writer’s confession is composed of careful observation and a strong sense of self, as well as a dose of comic relief that fans of Sherman Alexie and Nora Ephron will appreciate.
In What Poets Are Like, Soto recalls anecdotes that piece together his life as a poet—the trials and tribulations that come with a life dedicated to the written word. These brief scenes—most shorter than a couple pages—allow the reader glimpses into Soto’s head. For every fleeting high (like when a parade is thrown in his honor), there is a frustrating low—readings attended by one person, selling a single copy of his 50 cent chapbook, and countless rejection letters. He also captures poignant moments with friends and strangers, humbling reminders of a poet’s generally low status in cultural hierarchy, and the curious work of writing. Filled with decisive moments and revealing humor, this wry memoir shows an aging poet contemplating his life and life at large.
About the Author
Gary Soto is often referred to as one of the nation’s first Chicano poets. He is the author of eleven poetry collections for adults, most notably New and Selected Poems, a 1995 finalist for both the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the National Book Award, and more than 35 books for young readers. His poems have appeared in numerous literary magazines and have won many awards, including the Bess Hokin Prize and the Levinson Award. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. He divides his time between Berkeley and his hometown of Fresno, California.