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GarySoto

Gary Soto is a poet, author, and one-time author for American Girl.

Biography[]

Gary Soto was born April 12, 1952 in Fresno, California to Manuel and Angie Soto and is of Mexican-American heritage; his father died when he was five years old. As a young man, he worked in the fields of the San Joaquin Valley; since his family often struggled for employment, he had little time or encouragement in academics and was not a good student. In high school he found an interest in poetry through writers such as Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, Jules Verne, Robert Frost and Thornton Wilder.

Soto attended Fresno City College and California State University, Fresno; he earned a B.A. in English in 1974 and studied with poet Philip Levine. He followed with graduate work in poetry writing at the University of California, Irvine and was the first Mexican-American to earn a M.F.A. in 1976. Motivations to become a writer in college came with discovering the novelist Gabriel García Márquez and the contemporary poets Edward Field, W. S. Merwin, Charles Simic, James Wright and Pablo Neruda. Soto later taught at University of California, Berkeley and at University of California, Riverside, where he was a Distinguished Professor.

Soto served as a 'Young People's Ambassador' for the United Farm Workers of America and became the sponsor for the Pattonville High School Spanish National Honor Society in 2009.

Soto lives in northern California, dividing his time between Berkeley and Fresno, and is still writing though he no longer writes children's books (see article below).

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