Quintana, Leroy V. 1944-
QUINTANA, Leroy V. 1944-
PERSONAL: Born June 10, 1944, in Albuquerque, NM; married Yolanda Holguin (a registered nurse), 1970; children: Sandra, Elisa, José. Education: University of New Mexico, B.A., 1971; graduate study at University of Denver; New Mexico State University, M.A. (English), 1974; Western New Mexico University, M.A. (counseling), 1984. Politics: Democrat. Religion: Roman Catholic. Hobbies and other interests: Reading, travel.
CAREER: St. Joseph's Hospital, Albuquerque, NM, alcoholism counselor, c. 1971; New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, instructor in English, 1975; El Paso Community College, El Paso, TX, instructor in English, 1975-80, and coordinator of poetry series; University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, instructor in English, beginning 1980; Albuquerque Tribune, Albuquerque, feature writer and sportswriter, 1981-82; Border Area Mental Health, Silver City, NM, therapist, 1982-84; National City Family Clinic, San Diego, CA, counselor, 1984-87; San Diego Mesa College, San Diego, associate professor of English, 1988—. Licensed marriage, family, and child counselor. Baleen Press, contributing editor, 1974. Worked as a roofer and as an alcoholism counselor, Albuquerque. Military service: U.S. Army, Airborne, 1967-69; served in Vietnam.
MEMBER: International PEN, Modern Language Association of America.
AWARDS, HONORS: Creative writing fellow, National Endowment for the Arts, 1978; American Book Award for poetry, Before Columbus Foundation, and award, El Paso Border Regional Library Association, both 1982, for Sangre; American Book Award, 1993, for The History of Home.
Hijo del pueblo: New Mexico Poems (title means "Son of the Son of the People"), illustrated by Trini Lopez, Puerto Del Sol Press (Las Cruces, NM), 1976.
Sangre (poetry; title means "Blood"), Prima Agua Press (Las Cruces, NM), 1981.
The Reason People Don't Like Mexicans, Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe (Tempe, AZ), 1984.
Interrogations (poetry), Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe (Tempe, AZ), 1992.
The History of Home (poetry), Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe (Tempe, AZ), 1993.
(Editor, with Virgil Suarez) Paper Dance: Fifty-five Latino Poets, Persea Books (New York, NY), 1995.
My Hair Turning Gray among Strangers (poetry), Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe (Tempe, AZ), 1996.
Great Whirl of Exile (poetry), Curbstone Press (Willimantic, CT), 1999.
La promesa and Other Stories, University of Oklahoma Press (Norman, OK), 2002.
Also author of Now and Then, Often, Today, 1992. Also editor of Metaforas Verdes: Anthology of Spanish/English Poetry. Works represented in anthologies, including Shore Anthology of Poetry; Chicano Voices; Hispanics in the United States: An Anthology of Creative Literature, edited by Gary D. Keller and Francisco Jimenez, Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe (Tempe, AZ), 1980; and Five Poets of Aztlan, edited by Santiago Daydi-Tolson, Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe (Tempe, AZ), 1985. Contributor to periodicals, including Contact/II, Latin America Literary Review, New Mexico, Poetry Texas, Revista Chicano-Riqueña, Rocky Mountain Review, Southwest Heritage, and Voices International. Poetry editor, Thunderbird, 1970, and Puerto del Sol, 1973-74.
SIDELIGHTS: "In many ways, I'm still basically a small-town New Mexico boy carrying on the oral tradition," Leroy V. Quintana was quoted as saying in the Dictionary of Literary Biography. Author of the collections Hijo del pueblo: New Mexico Poems, Sangre, and the bilingual My Hair Turning Gray among Strangers, Quintana was born in Albuquerque and raised by his grandparents, who told him cuentos, or traditional Mexican folktales, and stories of life in the Old West. For his poems Quintana draws on Hispanic folklore for subject matter as well as spirit, and he includes many ancient storytelling devices—such as conversational structure and unreliable narrators—in his contemporary poetic form.
"I was raised by my grandparents," Quintana told Hispanic Writers, "and my major form of entertainment was the old cuentos I was told. I have always enjoyed stories—I read comic books by the hundreds, went to the movies, and recited the stanzas in the back of the catechism religiously." After high school and a tour of duty in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War, Quintana enrolled in the University of New Mexico, where he first wrote poems and edited Thunderbird, the school's literary journal. In 1976 he published his first poetry collection, Hijo del Pueblo, a celebration of small-town New Mexican life as seen through the eyes of a young boy. Using phrases borrowed from the storytellers—"I have been told" and "Grandfather used to say"—Quintana draws the reader into his writings, which bring modern expression to such Mexican and Indian traditions as undertaking pilgrimages to the shrine of the Virgin Mary of Guadalupe and performing ritual dances. He also addresses new phenomena, including the return home of Mexican-American soldiers from foreign wars and the effects of Anglos on Hispanic culture and society. And in "Sterling, Colorado," quoted by Douglas K. Benson in an article in the Dictionary of Literary Biography, Quintana discusses the prejudice many Hispanics suffer: "On Saturdays we would go into town / after picking potatoes all week / and the Anglos would laugh at us / and call us dirty Mexicans." But the poet also recalls that as a way of overcoming subsequent frustration his mother "loops and loops the laughter" into "yet another doilie."
The poems in Quintana's subsequent collection, Sangre, express the poet's maturing style and greater range and vision. The New Mexican experience—particularly village life—is portrayed colorfully and effectively, and Quintana addresses contemporary issues as well: the Vietnam conflict, the fallibility of television heroes, the realization that the simple life of the past is gone. In the final poem of the collection, "A Legacy," the narrator, who was educated among Anglos, longs to return to the innocence and security of the time when his grandfather told cuentos.
In Interrogations, the poet has distilled his experiences and memories about the war in Vietnam. Composed in five sections—"Preface," "How It Was Going to Be," "The Nam," "The Years After," and "Epilogue," a poetic plea for peace addressed to former president George H. W. Bush—the volume exemplifies the capacity of a human being to transcend the experience of war. Calling it a superior book, Jon Forrest Glade noted in American Book Review that "The characters in Interrogations have been given genuine depth, and in a few succinct lines they emerge as sharply defined human beings, not as caricatures." In another award-winning volume, The History of Home, Quintana collects short poems into what Nation reviewer Ray González likened to "a scrapbook of profiles created by someone who was raised in an isolated yet rich community of the fifties, painfully capturing a period of Chicano history few poets write about." Quintana's collection My Hair Turning Gray among Strangers finds the poet attempting to reconnect himself to the spiritual and emotional elements of his youth. As he told Hispanic Writers, "I seem to be tied to a sense of the past; my work reflects the 'sense of place' evoked by New Mexico. I hope I am worthy of portraying the land and its people well."
A licensed marriage, family, and child counselor, Quintana believes that his study of psychology has aided him in discerning human motivation, thereby helping him in his writing. In addition to his collected verse, he also served as editor, with Virgil Suarez, of the anthology Paper Dance: Fifty-five Latino Poets, which assembles the work of some of the most talented Hispanic writers in the United States, including Luis J. Rodriguez, Lucha Corpi, and Julia Alvarez.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 82: Chicano Writers, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1989.
Hispanic Writers, Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 1, 1990, Volume 2, 1999.
Lomelí, Francisco A., and Donaldo W. Urioste, Chicano Perspectives in Literature: A Critical and Annotated Bibliography, Pajarito Publications (Albuquerque, NM), 1976.
Poetry Criticism, Volume 36, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2001, pp. 247-276.
Quintana, Leroy V., Hijo del pueblo: New Mexico Poems, Puerto del Sol Press (Las Cruces, NM), 1976.
American Book Review, December, 1977, Karl Kopp, review of Hijo del pueblo: New Mexico Poems, pp. 19-20; April-May, 1994, John Forrest Glade, review of Interrogations, p. 21; July-August, 1997, James Hatch, review of My Hair Turning Gray among Strangers, pp. 23-24.
Bilingual Review/La Revista Bilingüe, January, 1985, Douglas K. Benson, "Intuitions of a World in Transition: The New Mexican Poetry of Leroy V. Quintana," pp. 62-80; September, 1985, Douglas K. Benson, "A Conversation with Leroy V. Quintana," pp. 218-229.
Contact/II, winter-spring, 1984-85.
Library Journal, September 15, 2002, Mary Margaret Benson, review of La promesa and Other Stories, p. 95.
Nation, June 7, 1993, Ray González, review of "A Chicano Verano," p. 772.
New Mexico Humanities Review, spring, 1982.
Perspectives on Contemporary Literature, Volume 12, number 12, 1986, Douglas K. Benson, "Inner and Outer Realities of Chicano Life: The New Mexican Perspective of Leroy V. Quintana," pp. 20-28.
Progressive, September, 1996, Demetria Martinez, "The Other Side of the Tracks," p. 43; November, 1999, Tayari Jones, review of The Great Whirl of Exile, p. 43.
Publishers Weekly, November 27, 1995, p. 65.
School Library Journal, July, 1995, p. 105.*