Toys Made of Rock


Part of the Canto Cosas series

"The poems in Toys Made of Rock pair experiments in form with explorations in identity. The lyric result of this offers inroads into the wide landscape of America. González brings us izote flowers and caskets, tumor fruit and the minimum wage, voices from the neighborhood and portraits of love. It is a wide-ranging journey from one country to another, from lost childhoods and hard childhoods to the politically charged world of adulthood. González is a storyteller and truth teller, a writer who sees that which must be written, must be sung, must be witnessed. The landscape of war is not always comprised of tanks and helicopters. Sometimes it looks like a neighborhood in America."

—Brian Turner, author of Here, Bullet

"José B. González's lyrical book of poems is like a map of Latin America's recent history. Follow it carefully and in its roads, canyons, mountains, and rivers you'll find it all: hurricanes, revolutions, migration, bombs, and beauty. Yes, beauty, and also food—tamales, pupusas, and rice and beans—literature, love of family and country, and a heart-breaking longing for all that is lost on the way to the hyphenated Latino-American life."

—Mirta Ojito, author of Finding Mañana

"There are poems in this colelction that break my heart, and some—often the same ones— that make me cheer for the clear-eyed resilience of the spirit behind them. The ones about education remind me of the magical wings we acquire when we master the Other's language and learn to 'steal his Shakespeare.' Bravo! Long live the goal of being 'educated and brown,' and kudos to González for sending out that crucial message to the young, brown or otherwise!"

—Rhina Espaillat, author of Her Place in These Designs

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About the Canto Cosas series

This poetry series, which was initially supported by awards from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Arizona Commission on the Arts, is designed to give further exposure to Latina and Latino poets who have achieved a significant level of critical recognition through individual chapbooks and publication in periodicals or anthologies or both, but who in most cases have not had their own books of poetry published. Under the watchful eye of series editor, poet, and small press publisher Francisco Aragón, the books in Canto Cosas aim to reflect the aesthetic diversity in American poetry.


José B. González
Author Bio: 

José B. González was born in San Salvador, El Salvador, and lived there until the age of eight, at which point he emigrated to the United States and was reunited with his parents, who had left to escape their country’s civil turmoil and to find work.

A Fulbright Scholar to Spain, he has been the recipient of such honors as the New England Association of Teachers of English Poet of the Year Award and the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education Outstanding Latino Faculty of the Year Award. His poetry has appeared in numerous anthologies including Theatre Under My Skin: Contemporary Salvadoran Poetry and journals such as Callaloo, Calabash, and Palabra. A member of the Macondo Writers Workshop, he is the coeditor, with John S. Christie, of Latino Boom: An Anthology of U.S. Latino Literature

A nationally known speaker, González has presented at various colleges such as Harvard University and Cornell University; countries including Mexico, Spain, and El Salvador; and institutions including the Smithsonian Latino Center and the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian. The founder and editor of LatinoStories.Com, he has been featured in the nationally syndicated show American Latino TV and has been a contributor to National Public Radio.  

Once a non-English speaker, he now has a PhD in English and is a Professor of English at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT. He lives in Quaker Hill, CT, with his wife, three strong daughters, and a son who is starting to believe that being a strong man and standing up for women’s rights can go hand in hand.  

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