Monday, January 07, 2008


Gil Cuadros published stories and poems in Indivisible, High Risk 2, and Blood Whispers. His work is also on the compact disc, Verdict and the Violence: Poet's Response to the LA Uprising. He was awarded the 1991 Brody Literature Fellowship, and was one of the first recipients of the PEN Center USA/West grant to writers with HIV. He lived in Los Angeles until his death in 1996 at the age of 34.

In his short life, Cuadros published one book, City of God (City Lights Books, 1994), which is a collection of short stories and poems. It is a deeply affecting examination of ethnicity, sexuality and the ruthlessness of AIDS in 1990s California. David Trinidad said of this book:

"City of God is an unsparing account of devastation and empowerment in the age of AIDS. From the body's first mysterious eroticism to its final humiliation and pain, Gil Cuadros gives voice to both the beauty and sorrow of our common fate. His writing cuts like a double-edged sword—at times artful and sharp, at times unfiltered and raw. This is an awesome and haunting book."

For an in depth discussion of City of God, I strongly recommend Mestizaje: Critical Uses of Race in Chicano Culture (University of Minnesota Press, 2006), by Rafael Pérez-Torres.

Perhaps Wanda Coleman put it best when she offered this opinion of City of God:

"I accuse Gil Cuadros of literary seduction in the nth degree... He makes me read on when I want to cry... I do not want to look at his words, and yet I cannot take my eyes away. His images sooth, burn, inspire. I accuse Gil Cuadros of language abuse—his stroke of silk, his pen a bludgeon. I accuse him of heart-bashing."

(Photo of Gil Cuadros by Laura Aguilar courtesy of UCLA LGBTS)

1 comment:

Metro Vaquero said...

As a freshman at UCLA taking Perez- Torres' class in the Spring of 1997, my introduction to City of God became the foundation to my life-long dedication social justice and respect for difference. Beautiful & inspiring book and writer.