My deepest and most heartfelt congratulations to Tim Z. Hernandez, a powerhouse of a poet and a peaceful spirit, whose first book called Skin Tax has received the 2006 American Book Award. Tim is a truly cool guy on top of his many talents, and it's redeeming to hear this great news. One perk of living in Fresno is the number of fantastic poets here, and Tim is among the finest (and yes, he has work forthcoming in the next issue of In the Grove). I have seen him read on a number of occasions, including his book release reading at Arte Americas, but the one I remember most was his one-man show at the Rogue Festival a few years back. The room was packed (I think they even had to close the door eventually) and Tim's reading was authentic and powerful as always. His depiction of his male relatives killing a hog is etched in my memory. His poems are bold, muscular, and honest. Jimmy Santiago Baca, author of The Importance of a Piece of Paper and Winter Poems Along the Rio Grande, writes, "Tim’s poems sizzle and spark with excitement. I like his boldness, his willingness to be raw and trust the content of the poem to make it real and legitimate."
Congratulations, Tim. Well-deserved.
From the press release:
Boulder, CO– Writer & performer, Tim Z. Hernandez has recently been awarded the prestigious American Book Award, sponsored by the Before Columbus Foundation. Established in 1978, the award recognizes outstanding literary achievement by contemporary American authors, without restriction to race, sex, ethnic background, or genre. The purpose of the award is to acknowledge the excellence and multicultural diversity of American writing. Hernandez’s debut book of poems, Skin Tax (Heyday Books), was chosen by a panel of established literary figures and select judges.
Hernandez is a graduate of Redwood High School (1992) in Visalia, California. Almost immediately after High School he began touring the west coast participating in various workshops and apprenticeships with established artists from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Though he focuses on writing and performance, he is also schooled in the art of murals. In 1999 he apprenticed with bay area master muralist Juan Alicia to produce a traditional fresco mural on permanent display in the San Francisco International Airport. Shortly after, he moved to Fresno, California where he spent most of his time writing, performing and stirring up the local literary scene.
The American Book Award comes on the heels of another recent achievement, the 2006 Zora Neal Hurston Award, which identifies not only Hernandez’s literary accomplishments but also the commitment he has made to serving his community. A one time programs consultant for the California Council for the Humanities in central California, he has been dedicated to addressing community needs and social issues through the arts.
When he’s not busy writing, Hernandez travels the country performing his work and offering workshops to aspiring writers and performers. Often times he collaborates with Visalia based latin groove band Mezcal. He’s been a guest artist at prestigious venues across the nation such as, The Getty Center in Los Angeles, The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, and Stanford University, to name a few. He currently lives in Boulder, Colorado with his wife, singer Dayanna Sevilla, his daughter Rumi Mia, and step-daughter Quetzani.