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Los Poetas de Los Angeles.
(Illustration by Diana Ramirez / De Los ; Photos by Getty Images)

The best places to hear Latinx poets in Los Angeles

Poetry gives us permission to express the uneasiness of heartbreak, injustice and joy. There’s nothing like witnessing a poet pour their heart out in person at cozy community spaces, ‘90s-style coffee shops and culturally relevant bookstores. We can’t name them all, but here’s a mix of spots across L.A. County to soak up this sound bath for the soul.

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Luis J. Rodriguez at Tia Chucha's 21st Anniversary Celebration shot by Giovanni Solis on October 15, 2022.
(Giovanni Solis)

Tía Chucha’s Centro Cultural & Bookstore

Sylmar Bookstore
No poetry list is complete without this northeast San Fernando Valley gem. Legendary poet and writer Luis J. Rodriguez opened the space in 2001 with his wife Trini Rodriguez and brother-in-law Enrique Sanchez with a mission to transform the community through ancestral knowledge and the arts. The store sells books for kids and adults that showcase Latinx culture. The programming is packed with music, visual art, dance and writing classes. Open mic night is the first Friday of every month from 7-9 p.m.
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Ave. 50 Studio logo close up in Los Angeles on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023.
(Lorena Endara/De Los)

Avenue 50 Studio

Los Angeles Art gallery
For 23 years, founding executive director and artist Kathy Gallegos has held down this gallery that continues to ride the waves of a pandemic and gentrification thanks to funders, collectors and community. Frank Romero, Sonia Romero and John Valadez have exhibited at this space where a monthly La Palabra poetry series is hosted by actress and writer Chloe Diaz every fourth Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. El Sereno poet and musician Iris de Anda recently read from her book “Roots of Redemption.”
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Latinx with Plants horizontal sign in Los Angeles on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023.
(Lorena Endara/De Los)

Latinx With Plants

Boyle Heights Plant Shop
Boyle Heights has some of the worst air quality in L.A. and shop owner Andi Xoch is on a mission to educate her community about the power houseplants have to purify spaces and combat environmental racism. Forever grateful to Blacks With Plants for the inspiration, Xoch curates a collection of plantitas, macrame hangers, pots, glass propagating tubes and small batch clothing and jewelry. The plant haven is home to Palabras, a bi-monthly gathering of BIPOC-centered literary folks facilitated by Jen Cheng with readings by writers like Jeremy Ra, Lynne Thompson and Olga Garcia Echeverria. “We sit in a non-hierarchical circle without a stage,” said Cheng. “Talk-story and witnessing are ways we can build better understanding of our humanity.”
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Cafe Con Libros Press

Pomona Bookstore
This nonprofit and volunteer-run bookstore located in downtown Pomona was opened by educators Adelaida Bautista and Patricia DeRobles in 1997. 26 years later, their new digs feature a full calendar of events, including Obsidian Tongue open mic every second Saturday of the month during Art Walk and an LGBTQ-friendly open mic called QT every fourth Friday of the month.
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Uptown Plants Casa Verde on Thursday, August 31, 2023. Casa Verde offers poetry readings.
(James Carbone / De Los)

Casa Verde LA

Whittier Store
After losing their jobs during the pandemic, Lindsay Sezati and Ruben Cardenas opened this Uptown Whittier shop that carries plants, vinyl, used clothing and ethically sourced sage for all your limpia needs. The Post Up goes down every third Friday of the month and features newbie and veteran storytellers. Hosted by poet Brenda Vaca and Ruben Cardenas, the vibe here is boho, so browse the eclectic array of goodies before plopping down in a comfy vintage sofa chair and being treated to a feast of words.
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Horchata Coffee Churros In Paramount on Thursday, August 31, 2023. Horchata Coffee Churros offers Open Night Mic with poetry readings.
(James Carbone / De Los)

Horchatería Rio Luna

Paramount Coffeehouse
Satisfy your sweet tooth with a house-made churro and horchata latte before checking out a Southeast L.A.-heavy lineup of poets at this family-run Paramount coffee shop. Angelina Saenz recently read from her upcoming book “Maestra,” a raw reflection on teaching in LAUSD for 23 years. Open mic night is every last Thursday of the month.
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Vanessa Angelica Villarreal at the 4th annual Southern California Poetry Festival, 2022.
((Jireh Deng / Beyond Baroque)

Beyond Baroque

Venice Art
Surrounded by a vibrant community garden, this legendary literary arts center is housed in a historic 1906 building that was once Venice City Hall. A fixture in this beachside community since 1968, the space has attracted everyone from punk legend Patti Smith to inaugural poet Amanda Gorman. Assistant director Jimmy Vega and programs coordinator Iván Salinas help curate programming like Poetry in El Norte: Poetas from Monterrey, L.A. and The Bay and Beyond Barock: A Day of Latinx Punk, Social Justice, & Literature.
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Alivio Open Mic night.
(Felix Quintana)

Alivio Open Mic

Bell Art
From an inconspicuous three-bedroom home in Bell is an open mic night like no other, where vendors line up on a long driveway and folks help fold chairs and pick up trash after poets share words on a makeshift stage inside a garage lit up with string lights. Founded in 2013 by poet Eric Eztli, Alivio returned to in-person sharing last year after a pandemic forced them to move their weekly open mic nights to Instagram Live.
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A man reads in public
Professional cage fighter turned “Gothic Poet” Jonathan Santa Maria reads at the October 2022 Trenches FUll of Poets event, at Page Against The Machine.
(Chris Giaco / Page Against The M)

Page Against the Machine

Long Beach Bookstore
Like the band it was inspired by, this Long Beach bookstore boasts a fiercely independent vibe. Monthly readings alternate between poetry and prose and feature hosts Nikolai Garcia, Mauricio Andres Moreno and Jesse Tovar who bring together a talented crew of wordies like Elisabet Salas, Christian Lozada, Andrés Sánchez and Sandra De Anda.
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Da Poetry Lounge's Weekly Open Mic Night. Every Tuesday 9- `11pm.
(Courtesy Da Poetry Lounge)

Da Poetry Lounge

Fairfax Art
For 25 years, DPL (as regulars refer to it) has brought together poets and the people who love them for the nation’s largest weekly open mic night. What began as a gathering of poets practicing in actor Dante Basco’s Hollywood home is now a weekly flex of prose at the Greenway Court Theatre in Fairfax. The famed open mic night helped launch the careers of Yesika Salgado, Elizabeth Acevedo, Rudy Francisco and Angela Aguirre who dared to step on this well-seasoned stage.
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