The new Los Angeles poet laureate is Luis Rodriguez

Luis Rodriguez reads from his book "Poems Across the Pavement." He is the new poet laureate of Los Angeles.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

A new Los Angeles poet laureate was announced Thursday by Mayor Eric Garcetti: bestselling author Luis J. Rodriguez.

Best known for his memoir “Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A.,” Rodriguez is also an award-winning poet. Brought up in Watts and East L.A., Rodriguez, a community activist, has been a vocal advocate for the power of words to change lives.

“Luis Rodriguez is an example of how powerful an impact literature can have on young lives, and as Poet Laureate, he will impact youth across Los Angeles,” Mayor Garcetti said in a statement. “I have no doubt that Luis will run with this new role and take it to heights.”


Rodriguez is the city’s second poet laureate, succeeding Eloise Klein Healy. During his two-year term, he is expected to compose poems to the city, host at least six readings, hold at least six classes or workshops at public library branches and serve as a cultural ambassador.

Those things should come naturally to Rodriguez, who is the founder and editor of the Tia Chucha Press, which has a bookstore and cultural center in Sylmar.

“I’m honored to be selected as the new Poet Laureate of Los Angeles — to expand on the new and imaginative journey Mayor Garcetti has embarked on to make this a livable, welcome, and artistically-alive city,” Rodriguez said in a statement. “To me, poetry is deep soul-talk, a powerful means to enlarge one’s presence in the world.”

Rodriguez’ poetry collections include “My Nature Is Hunger,” “The Concrete River,” “Trochemoche,” and “Poems Across the Pavement.”

His most recent book is the 2011 memoir, “It Calls You Back: An Odyssey Through Love, Addiction, Revolutions, and Healing,” a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

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