Biography

Stephen D. Gutierrez closes his eyes and says:

“I was born in the Los Angeles area in August 1959 to Alberto and Josephine Gutierrez. They raised me in City of Commerce in a decent neighborhood, allowing me to leave when it was time—they had no choice, my father insensible in a convalescent home and my mother pleading softly for me to stay but secretly glad for me. I went to college up north, at Chico State University, and graduated in four years, washed dishes for a foolhardy year, and then left for Ithaca, New York where I had been granted a fellowship at Cornell. A disastrous graduate career followed, but I met a graduate student named Jacqueline Doyle doing a Ph.D there, and avoided total failure. I managed to finish the M.F.A. in absentia while living in Fresno, where we had moved for her new job at the university there, and gotten married. Benjamin, our son, came next. I got a job at Fresno City College, and then a better one at Cal State East Bay, where I still teach. I had begun to publish in magazines and take my modest place in the world of letters. I had an older brother, Albert, who died tragically young of the hereditary disease that killed my father, early-onset Alzheimers, and have a sister, Norma, who I remain close to. I’m going to open my eyes now and hope you’re smiling or nodding with some kind of understanding of my life, of me myself, an old school Chicano from L.A., basically, with a writing habit. I use the ‘D’ in my name because I strongly identify with the overmatched Jew who brought down the bully Goliath. I like the way he held his ground and stared at him unafraid. I like the way he killed him.”

In 1996 his book Elements received the Charles H. and N. Mildred Nilon Excellence in Minority Fiction Award, and in 2010 he received an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation for the collection Live from Fresno y Los.