Gary Soto was born April 12, 1952 in Fresno, Calif. The California-based novelist and poet is best known for his gritty portrayal of the lives of Mexican-Americans.
Soto grew up working the fields and living in the barrio, and he used those experiences in his poems – including his first book of poetry, 1977’s The Elements of San Joaquin and his collection New and Selected Poems, which was a finalist for the 1995 National Book Award.
His young adult books depict teenagers in tough situations. The 1996 novel Jesse takes place during the Vietnam War and the 2006 novel Buried Onions shows life in a gang.
He also has a more whimsical side, as seen in his picture books, chapter books, short stories and poetry for children.
Read his poems on the Academy of American Poets and Poetry Foundation websites. You also can find out more about him by visiting the Gary Soto Literary Museum in Fresno, Calif.
Sources: Gary Soto website, Wikipedia, Amazon.com, Poetry Foundation