Rigoberto GonzalezUSAWriting2013

The writer in me requires three things in order to make art: a good meal, a comfortable workspace, and stimulating interactions. Food fuels me. And if I am content I am compelled to sit at my computer and sing with the keyboard until I lose my voice for the evening. In a private room I can undress my memory and imagination—I can lay bare the sorrows and other emotions that texture the interior lives of my fictional characters, and that color the similes of my poetry. Keeping company with other artists triggers my appetite for creativity. I hear a story and my mind comes alive with possibility. I want to earn my place among the distinguished talent that recognizes me as one of their kind. I was blessed with all three ingredients for the duration of my stay at Civitella. What other choice did I have but to write page after page (200 if you really want to know!) in order to honor that nurturing gift?


My father bought me a left-handed baseball glove, which made my hand look large and masculine, not the feminine, delicate hand I had to remember not to press against my hips. As soon as I slipped it on I knew I would be bored, and I made no effort to hide it as he stood a few yards away, yelling out “Catch!” as if I was made for this meaningless task. The baseball flipped over my gloved hand each time, my wrist a hinge.

I could see the frustration in my father’s eyes as my cousins stood around to watch, my uncles judging from a distance. It would be yet another athletic failure. His first: the boxing career that didn’t work out. And I, his oldest, nothing of a jock in my baby fat, my soft voice, my gentle nature. I collected stamps and books. I held my girl cousin’s hairpins while she tightened her braids.

My mind wandered, and I changed the ball into an egg, the red membranes glowing through. A seashell holding its salty breath. An avocado pit turned bone-white in the sun. Or maybe, just maybe, it was John Steinbeck’s pearl. I saw all of these wonders flying toward me, but not the baseball itself. The baseball, full of manly rage, came charging at my chest, striking my sternum with a thud that yanked me out of daydream and into the terrible world of disappointed fathers and uncles who willingly exchanged their spectator sport from catch to knock-him-down.

from 'Autobiography of My Hungers' (2013)