Christine Richardson, co-host of the Willow Glen Poetry Project monthly reading, introduced the featured reader for July with these words:
José Luis Gutiérrez is a San Francisco poet. Of poetry and his keen use of language, he says simply, “I love words.” To read and hear his work is to know how true this is. Rhythmic phrasing and command of the unfamiliar word are hallmarks of his poems.
His work has appeared in numerous publications online and in print. José Luis was one of the first poets to appear in Dean Rader’s 99 Poems for the 99%. Two of his poems appear in the June 2012 edition of the beautiful online journal, Thrush. In San Francisco Poets11 he was one of three poets selected to represent his district.
José Luis also appears in an extraordinary anthology, Al Mutanabbi Street Starts Here: Poets and Writers Respond to the March 5, 2007 Bombing of Bagdad’s “Street of the Booksellers”. To have his work appear with so many noted Iraqi and American poets and writers demonstrates his sensitivity and depth of empathy to the injustices of our contemporary life.
Surveying José Luis’ poems one finds the same keen eye focused on both the material and natural world and through his thoughtful evocative use of language translates his observation and perceptions to the reader. In ‘Liminal Sea’ he describes the end of a dying day: “the unaccountable seeping in as spectral fires light the star canvas”. His poem ‘Coda’ ends with the lovely, almost cryptic line: “moon in the mirroring pond of elocution.” Many of his poems have a left aligned movement down the page which seems to quietly guide the reader down the page and deeper and deeper into the poem. José Luis employs a subtle persuasion that invites one to see the world the way he sees it and we are all the richer for it.