Los Angeles’ poet laureate needs to make a small confession about our city. “I have a love/hate relationship with L.A.” says Luis J. Rodriguez.
No one is more qualified than Rodriguez to make that assessment. Los Angeles and its poet laureate have a history. He started in Watts, moved to the San Gabriel Valley, then East Los Angeles, before heading to San Pedro housing projects. He made stops in Huntington Park and Pasadena after that. The first home he owned was in Highland Park, but he now lives in the Valley. Did he ever live on the Westside? “The closest I ever got was when I was doing drugs as a young kid.”
His “Love Poem to Los Angeles,” published at the beginning of the year, gets at what many Angelenos find so hard to do: define a city that’s always changing.
“All these palm trees are so strong, the winds and they hang in there” says Rodriguez, looking for a metaphor. “The people are like that.”
“You’re floating in the world but you also have a very deep resilience.”
Check out the video above to hear Rodriguez read an excerpt of his poem.