Soul Over Lightning
Gonzalez shows his profound respect for other people, species, places, elements, and histories. Illusions to religious imagery knock against those of the natural world—feathers and rocks—creating a complex tableau of objects and feelings. Employing the image-driven approach for which he is renowned, in this collection Gonzalez is taut, using poetics that are fully formed. Even as the poems weave together highly intellectual, refined subject matter, the language remains accessible.
The book is divided into three parts. The first section offers Gonzalez’s most personal work yet, meditating on aging, forgetting, and the reader. The next section is more outward looking, as Gonzalez takes on great artists from both Old World and New World traditions. Finally, in the last section, Gonzalez opens himself up, reflecting in very personal ways on the everyday, such as a return from a hospital stay or a visit to the doctor.
Soul Over Lightning weaves together elements of Native American and Chicano/a narratives, inspired by the landscape of the desert Southwest and the experience of living on the border. It offers a new supernarrative that lifts spirits and yet remains grounded in a timeless search for home and truth.
“There's a restraint here, a lyrical sparseness that leans toward a meditational zen-like medicine of a high order.” —Timothy Liu, author of Bending the Mind Around the Dream's Blown Fuse
“Set largely in the desert Southwest of his birth, Soul Over Lightning builds on Ray Gonzalez’s impressive career of attention to the reciprocal relationship of people and place. For over thirty years, he’s been at the forefront of this necessary investigation, and he continues to find new and fresh insights into our most fundamental and true selves. These poems range across artistic and personal touchstones; Rodin and Dali share the endeavor with Man Ray and Charles Mingus, lyric turns to prose and back, and everywhere meaning comes as a solitary arrival, with 'the coiled earth climbing into your heart / to welcome you home.'” —John Gallaher, author of In a Landscape
“This is a contemplative collection of poetry, a delving into the sacred, spiritual aspects and ideas of who we are.” —Tim Z. Hernandez, author of Mañana Means Heaven