Philadelphia poet Leonard Gontarek’s poetry collections include Déjà Vu Diner (2006) and St. Genevieve Watching Over Paris (1984). His poems have also been featured in Joyful Noise: An Anthology of American Spiritual Poetry (2006) and in Best American Poetry (2005). He uses juxtaposition to explore themes of transformation and transcendence and has described his poems as “equal parts political, erotic, and meditations on the world.” In an interview with G.E. Reutter, Gontarek continued, “My views on these things are complicated; hence the overlay texture of the poems.” Reviewing Déjà Vu Diner, Amy Small-McKinney observed that “Leonard Gontarek asks his readers to hear, see, and practically touch, as though in a state of synesthesia, the particulars of his world. His poems ask us to suspend our own worldviews, to trust him, and to give ourselves over to his meticulous use of language and startling juxtapositions of imagery.”
Gontarek’s honors include several Pushcart Prize nominations and two fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. He has edited several anthologies of children’s poetry, including This Is Forever the Room (1979), The Balloonists Are Coming Back from the Clouds (1978), and Rain of the Haunted Trees (1979). He lives in Philadelphia, where he coordinates Peace/Works: Poets and Writers for Peace and has taught through the Philadelphia Arts in Education Partnership and the Arts League.