This collection consists of Chicano poet
Manazar Gamboa's manuscripts, plays, poems, writing notes, and his
written experiences of growing up in Chavez Ravine.
Born in East L.A. in 1934 and raised in Chavez Ravine, Manazar Gamboa
spent his youth picking crops with his family across the Central and San
Fernando Valley. As one of the first Latino students to attend
Nightingale Junior High in Cypress Park he rebelled against school
authorities by speaking Spanish.
He also began to sell marijuana and steal cars. In 1954 he began his
first prison term and would spend 17 of the next 23 years behind bars.
In the 1970's Gamboa became a heroin addict and shortly after the woman
he loved overdosed and died in his arms. He then committed an armed
robbery and was sent to Soledad State Prison.
In Soledad he began to read any literature available to him taking a
particular interest in poetry. Despite the derision of his fellow
inmates he avidly read the work of the Romantics: Shelley, Keats,
Coleridge and Blake. Gamboa was given the complete works of Shakespeare
which he regarded as his greatest treasure.
He began to write poetry and was published by a journal run by a
University of Colorado professor. In 1977 Gamboa was released and joined
the L.A. poetry scene by working at Beyond Baroque, a literary center in
Venice and edited its magazine Obras. From 1981 to 1983 he was the
Director of the L.A Latino Writers Association and editor of ChismeArte
In the 1980's he began teaching writing workshops for substance abusers,
youths in juvenile halls and prison inmates often driving over 120 miles
a day to teach literacy and writing to youths across the county. In 1988
he received a Brody Arts Fund for $2500 and replaced his 1963 Dodge. In
1989 he became the Artistic Director of the Homeland Neighborhood
Cultural Center. He turned his epic poem "Memories of a Bulldozed
Barrio" into a stage performance and worked with the non-profit L.A
Theater works for over 13 years. He died in Long Beach at age 66 on Dec.