Blas Manuel De Luna
Born in Tijuana, Mexico, Blas Manuel De Luna worked alongside his parents and siblings in California’s agricultural fields while he was growing up in Madera, California. His first book, Bent To Earth, a 2006 National Book Critics Circle finalist, reflects on those experiences. Claire Dederer in Poetry noted, “The immigrant labor experience permeates De Luna’s spare, forthright poetry, from his depictions of border crossings and INS beatings to his evocation of ‘bitter dust’ and carefully tended tomato plants.” With “home” and “its life of rural, working poverty” as his major themes, Dederer observes that De Luna “lays bare the dear costs and secret truths of such poverty, often in just a few sharp images.”
In the same Poetry profile, De Luna comments on the autobiographical tone of his poems, stating, “I’m not by nature the kind of person who reveals himself, but it just kind of happens in the poems—the willingness to go to the place where you’re revealed, but always in service of the poem, never in a purging kind of way.”
A writer of both fiction and poetry, De Luna holds BA and MA degrees from California State University-Fresno, and an MFA from the University of Washington. De Luna was the Ruth and Jay C. Halls Poetry Fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His poems have been anthologized in How Much Earth: An Anthology of Fresno Poets and Highway 99: A Literary Journey Through California's Great Central Valley. A 1998 Artist Trust / Washington State Art Commission Literature Fellow, De Luna has taught high school English in California.