Richard Vargas was born in Compton, CA. He earned his B.A. at Cal State University, Long Beach, where he studied under Gerald Locklin and Richard Lee He edited/published five issues of The Tequila Review, 1978-1980, publishing early works by Jimmy Santiago Baca, Alberto Rios, Nila Northsun, Dennis Cooper, Michael C Ford, Ron Koertge, and many more. His first book, McLife, was featured twice in February 2006, on Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac. A second book, American Jesus, was published in 2007. His third book, Guernica, revisited, was published April 2014, by Press 53, and was featured once more on Writer's Almanac. A fourth book, How A Civilization Begins, Mouthfeel Press, was released in September 2022. Vargas received his MFA from the University of New Mexico, 2010, where he workshopped his poetry with Joy Harjo. He was recipient of the 2011 Taos Summer Writers’ Conference’s Hispanic Writer Award, was on the faculty of the 2012 10th National Latino Writers Conference and facilitated a workshop at the 2015 Taos Summer Writers’ Conference. He also edited/published The Más Tequila Review from 2009-2015, featuring poets from across the country. His poetry continues to appear in poetry journals and anthologies, while his fifth book, leaving a tip at the Blue Moon Motel, Casa Urraca Press, will be released late summer, 2023.
His work history is long and varied. Some of the jobs he’s had since the 1970s: fry and grill cook, women’s shoes salesman, bank employee, gas station attendant, retail sales/clerk (paint/men’s clothes/auto repair and service/bookseller), warehouseman, infantry lieutenant, warehouse supervisor, UPS deliveryman, massage therapist, bookstore events coordinator, inbound call center CSR (for several companies.) He is now retired and currently resides in Wisconsin, near the lake where Otis Redding’s plane crashed.