Thursday, December 18, 2008

Inspiration from the Past, Present

I'm adding a new link to my blog roll today: Rafael Jesus Gonzalez's blog. Mr. Gonzalez was my first creative writing teacher, way back in 1991 at Laney College in Oakland. He was the first 'real' writer I'd ever met--someone who was completely committed to his craft, had high expectations for his students, and didn't spare us criticism or pity us in order to help us 'feel better' about our writing. He was also very generous and kind, so I don't want to give the impression that he was a cruel workshop taskmaster.

He was also a very accomplished writer who could've taken a much more prestigious teaching job than the one he had at a community college, having been anthologized in a Norton anthology and having published several books of poetry. I felt that he had a strong commitment to the kinds of students that attend Laney--lower-income, public-school educated students of color who otherwise might not ever get a chance to meet someone like Mr. Gonzalez, let alone have their writing workshopped by him.

I'm glad to see that he's still writing and keeping up with new technology by blogging. I'd run into Mr. Gonzalez every once in a while after I took his class--at protests, during big events in Oakland or San Francisco--and he was always smiling and ready with a hug for one of his many old students. I hope to run into him again sometime soon, online or otherwise. Would be a nice inspiration for me to continue my writing, so many long years after he first touched my life.

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