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Author Gary Soto to speak during free performance

April 19, 2001|By MARIO RENTERÍA, Staff Writer

Renowned poet, essayist, novelist and playwright Gary Soto will be coming to El Centro to speak to the public next week and perform a scene from his play "Nerdlandia" with local high school students

Soto is author of such books as "Living Up the Street," "Small Faces" and books of poetry such as "The Elements of San Joaquin," and "The Tale of Sunlight."

On April 25, Soto will join Central Union High School drama students to perform scene five from "Nerdlandia," which Soto wrote in 1999. He also will speak to the crowd and read from his works.

The presentation will start at 7:30 p.m. in the Southwest Performing Arts Theatre in El Centro. The event is free and open to the public.

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Soto will speak to Central and Southwest students Thursday morning and again perform the scene.

At the Wednesday performance Soto will autograph books he sells.

Jessie De La Cruz, an early organizer of the United Farm Workers, will join in the local performances. De La Cruz was the subject of one of Soto's' books, "Jessie De La Cruz: A Profile of a United Farm Worker."

Central Union High School District students will showcase art work they have done in response to Soto's writing in the foyer of the Southwest theater Wednesday.

Soto, born and raised in Fresno and a resident of Berkeley, has written 10 poetry collections for adults, his most notable being "New and Selected Poems," a 1995 finalist for both the Los Angeles Times Award and the National Book Award.

Soto has received various awards and prizes for his work, including an Andrew Carnegie Award for a film he produced.

His book "Living Up The Street" received a Before Columbus Foundation's American Book Award.

His poems have appeared in Ploughshares, The Iowa Review, Ontario Review and most frequently Poetry.

He has sold more than 1.3 million books, and his children's books, including "Baseball in April," have been among his most warmly received.

Soto has received the Discovery-The Nation Prize, the California Library Association's John and Patricia Award (twice), a recognition of merit from the Claremont Graduate School and other prizes.

In 1999 he was honored with the Human and Civil Rights Award from the American Education Association.

Soto is a distinguished professor of creative writing at the University of California, Riverside.

Staff Writer Mario Rentería can be reached at 337-3435.

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