Beautiful Wall takes us on a profound journey through the desert Southwest where the ever-changing natural landscape and an aggressive border culture rewrite intolerance and ethnocentric thought into human history. Inextricably linked to his Mexican ancestry and American upbringing, Ray Gonzalez’s collection mounts the wall between the current realities of violence and politics, and a beautiful, never-to-be-forgotten past.
PRAISE FOR BEAUTIFUL WALL
"Ray Gonzalez is a visionary poet in the classic sense, which means that he creates an entire universe of meaning and emotion in this collection of poems. Rich with an embrace of his Mexican heritage, Gonzalez is representative of the new voice of American poetry, the voice of immigrants and their descendants, and in the hands of someone as accomplished as Gonzalez, two things happen at once: poetry is brought down to the gritty level of real experiences, and real experience is raised up into poetry through the poet's keen attention to craft. This is a major accomplishment, and these are poems worthy of our faith and our close attention."
"Ray Gonzalez has given us again a book of humanity and compassion. It is a pleasure to have him lead us from the Rio Grande to Montana, from Colorado to his hometown of El Paso, Texas, and all across the West in search of both the menacing and the luminous. And what a joy to travel, too, alongside Gonzalez's beloved poets brought to life here—Lorca, Celan, Levis, Vallejo, Kerouac, Bly, Neruda—and especially Weldon Kees, who fills the heart of this wonderful book in the sequence, ‘Crossing New Mexico with Weldon Kees’ in such a way that Kees becomes the Virgil to Gonzalez's Dante as they cut through the vast Southwest with its ‘tangled forms of faith and death.’ This is a book that affirms poetry as the art of a vast nation. Gonzalez celebrates and laments. He blesses and curses and brings both moral outrage and tender empathy to his subjects of lived lives and dying lives."
"The gods in Ray Gonzalez’s Beautiful Wall—Xochipilli, Garcia Lorca, Huehuecoyotl, the mountain lion, and many others—help him guide us as we pass through walls that attempt to divide cultures, dimensions, even life and death. The spiritual journey he undertakes with us, for which he invents a new language as a golden bough, is not based on literary artifice. It comes from a place so deep that Gonzalez brings us with him, both in sorrow and in ecstasy, to an entirely unique vision of this world and all the others that hide behind it."
―Lawrence R. Smith
© BOA Editions, Ltd. 2015