José Antonio Rodríguez

José Antonio Rodríguez (CNF, Poetry) | Edinburgh, TX

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José Antonio Rodríguez’s books include the memoir House Built on Ashes and the poetry collections The Shallow End of Sleep and Backlit Hour, a finalist for the 2014 Paterson Poetry Prize. His work has appeared in Poetry, The New Republic, The Texas Observer, Green Mountains Review, Memorious, Tusculum Review, Huizache, the Poetry Society of America online, and elsewhere. His awards and honors include the Bob Bush Memorial Prize from the Texas Institute of Letters, the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award from Paterson Literary Review, the Founders’ Prize from RHINO, multiple nominations for the Pushcart Prize, and the Clifford D. Clark Doctoral Fellowship from Binghamton University, where he earned a Ph.D. in English and Creative Writing. He is assistant professor in the MFA program at The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley.


House Built on Ashes: A Memoir (University of Oklahoma Press, 2017). Memoir. CNF.
Backlit Hour (Stephen F. Austin State University Press, 2013). SFA Press Prize. Poetry.
The Shallow End of Sleep (Tia Chucha/Northwestern UP, 2011). Poetry.

Blurbs, Press & Reviews

House Built on Ashes

“José Antonio Rodríguez has written a classic. Gently poetic, utterly authentic, packed with rich scenes, House Built on Ashes invites us into the author’s worlds of growing up in a big family in the borderlands of Mexico and South Texas. Read this brilliant book by a true maestro—hold his many worlds with reverence and curiosity—you will never be the same.”
—Naomi Shihab Nye

“In House Built on Ashes, José Antonio Rodríguez has gifted us a luminous coming-of-age memoir, a tender, searching exploration of what it means to be a resident alien in more ways than one. Rodríguez is an intimate guide to the hoops of allegiance that a boy-becoming-man must leap.”
—Rob Nixon, author of Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor

“A beautiful portrayal of a world seldom seen in American letters, House Built on Ashes is needed, especially now.”
—Sandra Cisneros, author of A House of My Own: Stories from My Life and The House on Mango Street

House Built on Ashes is labeled a memoir, but could just as easily be considered a collection of creative nonfiction shorts. Rodriguez writes beautifully, and his prose conveys the transition from his early childhood in rural Mexico to his life on the “other side” once he moves across the Texas border. The short-story structure works well, reflecting the way individual anecdotes combine to form memory. . .told in a way that makes the seemingly simple feel truly meaningful.”
Foreword Reviews

Backlit Hour

“Beautiful, heartfelt, vulnerable. A humble voice, and because of this humility, filled with grace.”
—Sandra Cisneros

“Such wealth of perception in these voluptuous poems…. This is a wondrous book to be absorbed and found by.”
—Naomi Shihab Nye

“There are poets who seem to ride a current, a wave of ideas and sentiments so vital for our times. José does this in spades…”
—Luis J. Rodríguez

The Shallow End of Sleep:

“…a marvelous collection of poetry, far-reaching and inspiring.”
—Afaa Michael Weaver

“In these powerful and passionate poems, Rodriguez gives us an honest, unflinching portrait…of beginning a journey into America and into understanding how sometimes shame shapes us into the people we become.”
—Maria Mazziotti Gillan

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