Manuel Gonzalez is the the current Poet Laureate of Albuquerque, NM. A performance poet who began his career in the poetry slam, Manuel has represented Albuquerque four times as a member of the ABQ Slam Team at the National Poetry Slam. Manuel has appeared on the NMPBS show, Colores: My Word is My Power, and is one of the founding members of the poetry troupe The Angry Brown Poets. Manuel teaches workshops on self-expression through poetry in high schools and youth detention centers. He has also worked with art therapists to help incarcerated young men find an outlet to express themselves. Manuel was a also a coach and mentor for the the Santa Fe High Poetry Slam Team for four years.
Manuel’s connection to his poetry and culture helps him connect with students. By teaching poetry as a means for self-expression, his students are given the opportunity to explore their own culture. Building up self esteem, finding something to say, figuring out how to say it eloquently, and letting your voice be heard are just some of the benchmarks in Manuel’s workshops.
Manuel is from Albuquerque. His mother’s family is from Barelas and his father’s family is from a small town in northern New Mexico called Anton Chico. Manuel’s father (Manny Gonzalez) was the founder of the band Manny and the Casanovas, pioneers of traditional New Mexico music. Manuel identifies himself as being Chicano and the history, culture, and spirituality of his people are among his inspirations.
“I’m proud to be from New Mexico!” says Manuel. “And to me it’s more than just green chile and desert. It’s seeing the value of our familia, our community, our traditions, and our culture. It’s the Rio valley and the Santuario de Chimayo. It is feasts. dance, poetry, and prayer.”