Rigoberto González on Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Zachariah Johnson Gonzalez -- Zach to his friends -- is the son of an alcoholic father and a manic-depressive mother "who was allergic to the sky," and with an older brother whose drug-induced rages inflicted fear and violence on the family. So it was only a matter of time before Zach ended up in a rehabilitation facility after a near-fatal drinking binge -- his way of numbing the pain of witnessing the ills of his loved ones.
Oscar Bermeo on Luis H. Valadez
Valadez’s speaker continues to wrestle between the details of his life against the decisions forced upon him. The modern urban environment is filled with similar stories but Valadez’s poems rise above these common tropes with bold leaps into experimental and fractured narratives that look to bring together the disparate pieces of the speaker to help him reach a new path.