The Fresno State Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing each spring awards its annual Andrés Montoya memorial scholarships, supported by the Montoya family, the Department of English, and community donors. Each award is $500. Here are the 2020 recipients.
Judge: Joseph Rios, author of Shadowboxing
Judge’s overall comments: “What an honor. I’m thankful for being asked to read for these scholarships. I enjoyed reading the pool of applicants. I am encouraged by their stories that, for me, are so so familiar and work so well within the tradition of Andrés. La lucha sigue.”
Recipient: Mariah Bosch, third-year MFA poetry student
Judge’s comments: “Bosch wowed me with their control of my attention as a reader and dislodged me from comfort with lines like, ‘My grandfather walks in/with the brightest blue/button-down, a new Virgin Mary tattoo/on his sagging neck. He is as thin as the day he died.’ Wow. It is a line I wish I had written, and with each turn, Bosch invigorates these details and makes them so familiar and yet so fresh.
“I think Andrés would have enjoyed the attention to the R-sounds in ‘Heart Monintor.’ This poem really goes. I would love to hear it aloud with a big crowd. Also, with shoutouts to Wanda Coleman and Jaime Sabines (and Ernesto Trejo, too).
“‘Inter :: communication’ is probably the most delightful poem I’ve read in a while. It is, I’m sure of it. It is a poem Larry Levis wishes he had written, an unreleased track from ‘Winter Stars.’ Thank you, Mariah, thank you for the accomplishments in this poem; principally, I’m thinking of the last stanza. I am re-reading and saying it aloud as I write this and will do so several more times before I press send. Excuse my language, but it is fuckin’ magic.”
Recipient: Michael S. Cantú, first-year MFA poetry student
Judge’s comments: “Cantú’s work is in the lineage of Central Valley luminaries such as Gary Soto and Andrés Montoya. I am drawn to his use of the short line and its ability to capture snapshots of these intimate moments during farm labor, as in the line: ‘Climbing up the ladder/Reaching treetops./The first ripe fruit/Double Jewel/Family Heirloom.’ In the valley, thankfully, poems are our inheritance. And Cantú is an heir to the fertile poetic land of the valley.
“The line that really shook me was, ‘A 1964/Four door Ford/Made of cigarettes and/Faded blue paint.’ — I have known so many trucks like this one. Cantú made a beat up truck into a work of art.”