The PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry is a recognition that is given out every two years to a poet with inspirational talent. The award recognizes a poet who has accomplished significant and impactful presence in American literature through their growing body of work. This year, the award is being given to Civitellian Rigoberto Gonzalez (CRF 2013), a Latino poet whose work is influenced by and deeply connected to his roots as the son of undocumented Mexican immigrants and farm workers.
This year’s panel of judges noted in the PEN America press release that González has “devoted his writing life not only to the development of his astonishing voice as a poet and non-fiction writer but to his astute and discerning craft as a reviewer and steadfast advocate for other Latinx voices.” They continue to say, “Rigoberto González is one of our great mythmakers, cutting to the core of historical narratives and present-day calamities, exposing the faultlines of greed and violence, love and hunger, cruelty and corruption, family and tribe that pattern human experience. The son and grandson of migrant farm workers, and claiming a cultural heritage of lyricism and activism, he is attuned to the voices of the dead and the living, and he counsels us ‘To reach the dead // walk toward the structures still standing, / their windows still looking in.’”
González received a stipend of $5,000 in addition to recognition of his momentous career achievement during a the live 2020 PEN America Literary Awards Ceremony. Read more here.