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Gary Soto

Gary Soto writes about the lives of Mexican Americans, about nature, and about personal dreams. He grew up in a Mexican-American community in Fresno, California, where at various times in his childhood he wanted to be a priest, a hobo, and a paleontologist. In college Soto planned to study geography, but then he discovered poetry. "I don't think I had any literary aspirations when I was a kid," he says. "We didn't have books, and no one encouraged us to read. So my wanting to write poetry was a sort of fluke."
As a result of that "fluke," Soto has been writing poetry, novels, and short stories for young readers and adults ever since college. At the age of 25 he published a poetry collection, The Elements of San Joaquín, that won the 1976 United States Award of the International Poetry Forum. A collection of his autobiographical pieces, Living up the Street, won the American Book Award of the Before Columbus Foundation. His young-adult novels include Taking Sides, Pacific Crossing, and The Skirt.

Soto lives with his wife and daughter in Berkeley, California, where he occasionally teaches English and Chicano studies at the University of California.