Gary Soto


Born and raised in Fresno, California, is the author of thirteen poetry collections for adults, most notably NEW AND SELECTED POEMS, a 1995 finalist for both the Los Angeles Times Award and the National Book Award. He has received the Discovery-The Nation Prize and the California Library Association’s John and Patricia Award [twice], in addition to fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts [twice], and the Guggenheim Foundation. For ITVS, he produced the film “The Pool Party,” which received the 1993 Andrew Carnegie Medal. In 1995, for his work with young people, he was selected NBC Person of the Week. In 1999 he was honored with the Human and Civil Rights Award from the American Education Association, the Literature Award from the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, and the PEN Center West Book Award for his young-adult short story collection PETTY CRIMES. For the Los Angeles Opera, he wrote the libretto to the opera “Nerdlandia.” In all, his books have sold five million copies, with eight titles translated into French, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, and Spanish. He lives in Berkeley, California. Source

Ode to La Llorona

They say she weeps

Knee-deep in the river,

The gray of dusk

A shawl over her head.

She weeps for her children,

Their smothered faces

Of sleeping angels . . .

Normaaaa, Mariooo, Carlooooos.

They say she calls 

Children, offering

Them candy 

From her sleeve.

They say she will

Point a long finger,

Gnarled root of evilness,

And stare a soft

Hole in your lungs:

The air leaks 

From this hole

And climbs in the trees.

In autumn, she appears

With a pomegranate,

Each seed the heart

Of a child she took away.

She will whisper, Monicaaaaa,

Beniciooooo, Ernestooooo.

If you’re on your bike, 

Ride faster. 

If you’re on foot, 

Run without looking up. 

In these times,

The sliced moon hangs 

In the sky, moon

That is orange,

The color of

A face in the porchlight.

At home

The cooler in the window

Stops, then starts,

And the TV flickers

With a climate of snow.

These are signs, and the

Dog with mismatched eyes,

The turtle in the 

Middle of the road,

And the newspapers

Piling up on a roof.

La Llorona is the mother

of drowned children.

Beware a woman

Dripping water in July

when no rain has fallen.





Literary Movements:

Chicano Poetry


Anthology Years:



Doubt & Fear

Intersectionality & Culture

Literary Devices:


conversation between two or more people as a feature of a book, play, or movie


a literary device that is used in narratives to omit some parts of a sentence or event, which gives the reader a chance to fill the gaps while acting or reading it out.


visually descriptive or figurative language, especially in a literary work


a word, object, action, character, or concept that embodies and evokes a range of additional meaning and significance.