ISSN 1551-8086
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   poets list
   Francisco Dominguez & Aire Celeste Norell
   Marie Lecrivain & Angel Uriel Perales
   Sheikha A.
   Steve Abee
   L. Ward Abel
   Carl Abt
   Hannah Adcock
   Elizabeth Addis
   Aderemi Adegbite
   Adeolu Emmanuel Adesanya
   Neil Aitken
   M.I Akande
   Shahd Al-Shemmari
   Lynn Albanese
   Scott Alexander
   Gwyndyn Alexander
   Nicole Alexander
   Alaina Renee Alexander
   Inalegwu Omapada Alifa
   Maureen Alsop
   Rafael Alvarado
   Steven Alvarez
   Veronica An
   Zack Anderson
   Kristine Anderson
   G.D. Anderson
   Amy Anderson
   Lori Anderson-Moseman
   Grace Andreacchi
   Renae Andruse
   Arlene Ang
   Roger Angle
   Stephen Anstay
   Azure Antoinette
   Theresa Antonia
   Aurora Antonovic
   Maria A Arana
   Carlye Archibeque
   Joseph Armstead
   Feral Artist
   Baron James Ashanti
   Charlene M. Ashendorf
    Askew
   Gregory Austin
   Shawn Aveningo
   maeghanne ayers
   Goodness Lanre Ayoola
   John-Patrick Ayson
   Jim Babwe
   Sophie Bachard
   Vasile Baghiu
   Bridget Bagne
   song-hue bahk
   Michael Baker
   Prerna Bakshi
   Anna Balint
   David Banuelos
   Jared Barbick
   J. Mae Barizo
   Peter Barlow
   Matthew A. Barraza
   James Barros
   Jeni Bate
   Jonathan Beale
   Richard Beban
   Gary Beck
   Gary Beck
   Lytton Bell
   Hakim Bellamy
   Michele Beller
   Laura Bellotti
   Stefanie Bennett
   Hayley Berariu
   Lawrence Berger
   Kevin Berger
   Mike Berger, Ph.D.
   Tom Berman
   luis cuauhtemoc berriozabal
   Craig Berry
   Nick Bertelson
    Besskepp
   Mary Rose Betten
   Cheryl Beychok
   Gwendolyn Beyer
   François Biajoux
   Jarvis Black
   Heitham Black
   Beau Blue
   Rose Mary Boehm
   Bonnie Bolling
   Julie Bolt
   Lek Borja
   Cristogianni Borsella
   Gerald Bosacker
   Amanda Boschetto
   Wendy Bourke
   Jack G. Bowman
   Jennifer Bradpiece
   Bob Bradshaw
   Marcielle Brandler
   Peter Branson
   Sumiko Braun
   Adam Bresson
   Quiana Briggs
   Jack Bristow
   paulo brito
   Alan Britt
   Michelle Brodeur
   Lynne Bronstein
   Charles Brooks
   Adam Levon Brown
   Leah Brown
   Deborah Edler Brown
   Jason Sanford Brown
   zoey brown
   Bob Browning
   Sir Mark Bruback
   MC Bruce
   Jeffrey Bryant
   Kate Buckley
   Robin M. Buehler
   Ron Burch
   Graham Burchell
   Maria Rose Burgio
   Betsy Burke
   Matt Burns
   Richard Burrill
   Tony Bush
   Zachary C. Bush
   Elissa Calvin
   Joseph Camhi
   Dana Campbell
   Don Kingfisher Campbell
   Velene Campbell
   Don Kingfisher Campbell
   Neil Campbell
   Luis Campos
   Janine Canan
   Lyn Cannaday
   Pasquale Capacosa
   Joey Capone
   Hélène Cardona
   Britton Laine Carducci
   D.J. Carlile
   Julia Carlson
   Alicia Carpenter
   Jonathan Carr
   Patricia Carragon
   Oscar Carrasco
   Jared Carter
   Michael Aaron Casares
   John Casey
   Lisa Castro
   Rachael Kelechi Caulker
   Nika Cavat
   Michael Caylo-Baradi
   Steve Ceniceros
   Michael Ceraolo
    Cerise
   Robert Cesaretti
   Cheryl Chambers
   Lita-Luise Chappell
   Shibani Chattopadhyay
   Lisa Cheby
   Beth Cheng
   Ralph-Michael Chiaia
   Juhi Chowdhury
   David Christensen
   Phil Clark
   Terry Clark
   Darice Clark
   Terry Clark
   Charles Claymore
   Jeanette Clough
   Kim Cochran
   Ed Coet
   Tobi Cogswell
   Megan Coker
   Bruce Colbert
   Merrill Cole
   Karen E. Cole
   Christopher Coleman
   Larry Colker
   Beverly M. Collins
   David Concepcion
   Christiane Conésa-Bostock
   Brendan Connell
   Alice Constantine
   Jack Cooper
   Flavia Cosma
   Rachel Coventry
   R. Paul Craig
   David Cravens
   William Crawford
   Natalie Crick
   Rosemarie Crisafi
   Carla Criscuolo
   Chris Crittenden
   Benjamin Crowley
   Susan Culver
   Joe Cyr
   Jim D Babwe
   Morgaine d'Abney
   Karen Corcoran Dabkowski
   Daniel Daian
    Dalton
   Catherine Daly
   Iris Dan
   Marie Lecrivain & Daniel Gallik
   Dan Danila
   Michelle Daugherty
   Piper Davenport
   Kathrine David
   Gareth Davies
   Holly Day
   Frank De Canio
   Gregory De Feo
   Steve De France
   J. de Salvo
   J de Salvo
   kumari de Silva
   Pijush Kanti Deb
   Shalla DeGuzman
   JD DeHart
   Diane Dehler
   Aurelius Demarco
   Darren C Demaree
   Gloria Derge
   Chris Derrico
   Lea Deschenes
   Maurice Devitt
   Theo Diamantis
   Mike Dias
   Martin Dickinson
   Edward J DiMaio
   Mark Dixon
   Peggy Dobreer
   Rosemarie Dombrowski
   Francisco J. Dominguez
   Linsly Donnelly
   Lisa Helene Donovan
   Kevin Doran
   Marvin Louis Dorsey
   John Dorsey
   Marvin Dorsey
   Laura A. Lionello & Douglas Richardson
   Doug Draime
   Donelle Dreese
   Dale Duke
   Jawanza Dumisani
   Henri Dumolet
   Max Dunbar
   Robin Wyatt Dunn
   t. joseph dunn
   Tyler Dupuis
    Durenda
   Walter Durk
   Douglas Dvorkin
   Ron Dvorkin
   Amitabh Vikram Dwivedi
   Alfie Ebojo aka alfie numeric
   Elisabeth Adwin Edwards
   Sabrina Edwards
   Patricia J. Edwards
   Miguel Eichelberger
   John Elison
   Julian Ellis
   Neil Ellman
   K. Eltinaé
   R.M. Engelhardt
   Margarita Engle
   Jon Epstein
   Sufi Erter
   Eli Eshaghian
   Michael Estabrook
   Alexis Rhone Fancher
   Richard Fein
   John Feins
   Emily Fernandez
   Melissa Fischer
   W.S. Fisher
   Jamie Asae FitzGerald
   Amelia Fleetwood
   Jake Fleshner
   John Jay Flicker
   David Flynn
   Arthur Charles Ford
   Liz Fortini
   Sesshu Foster
   Heather Fowler
   Clint Frakes
   Sarah Francois
   Amélie Frank
   Alex M. Frankel
   Allie Frazier
   E.L. Freifeld
   M. Frias Frias-May
   Suzanne Frost
   Delia J. Fry
   Elliott Gabay
   Steven Gabriel
   Timothy Gager
   Daniel Gallik
   J Gamble
   Ishmael Garay
   Jerry Garcia
   Daniel Garcia-Black
   Gabriella Garofalo
   Vince Garofalo
   Yvonne Garrett
   Nelson Gary
   Donna Gebron
   Ulrike Gerbig
   Janice Gero
   Ursula T. Gibson
   Rebecca Gimblett
   Tony Gloeggler
   Steve Goldman
   Vesna Goldsworthy
   Melanie Gonzalez
   Jeffrey Graessley
   Allison Grayhurst
   Jeff Green
   Timothy Green
   Jeanie Greensfelder
   Rhoda Greenstone
   Amos Greig
   John Greiner
   John Grey
   Summer Griffiths
   Danielle Grilli
   Brian Grillo
   John Grochalski
   Wendy Grosskopf
   Andrew Grossman
   Ro Gunetilleke
   Kenneth Gurney
   John R. Guthrie
   Debashish Haar
   Erik Haber
   Hedy Habra
   Tresha Faye Haefner
   Matthias Hagedorn
   James Hall
   Tom Hamilton
   David Harrington
   William Harris
   Matt Harris
   Dawnell Harrison
   J. Alana Hauenschild
   Kari J. Hayes
   KJ Hays
   Ann L. Healey
   Eloise Klein Healy
   Jessica Healy
   Jim Heavily
   Dan Hedges
   Paul Hellweg
   Samantha Henderson
   Jack Henry
   David Herrle
   JD Heskin
   Kenneth Hickey
   Jerry Hicks
   Marvin R Hiemstra
   Ed Higgins
   Carlos Hiraldo
   Sherri Hoffman
   Guy Hogan
   Ali Hosseiny
   Dave Houston
   David Howard
   Eric Howard
   Nate Howard
   Bryon D. Howell
   A J Huffman
   Hunter Lee Hughes
   Roger Humes
   Trista Hurley-Waxali
   Elizabeth Iannaci
   Thea Iberall
   Armine Iknadossian
   Gedda Ilves
   Alegria Imperial
   Victor Infante
   Victor D. Infante
   Augustus Invictus
   Susan Irvine
   Alexandra Isacson
   Natalie Itzhaki
   Amber Jacob
   Scott Jacobson
   Larry Jaffe
   Sonika Jaggi
   Emmanuel Jakpa
   Matthew James
   Andrea Janov
   T.A. Jennings
   Ivan Jenson
   Dani Jimenez
   Alex Johnson
   Michael Lee Johnson
   Lois P. Jones
   Strider Marcus Jones
   Tao Jones
   Georgia Jones-Davis
   Jasmin Jordan
   Quentin Josephy
   Liu Jue
   Ruth Juris
   Gene Justice
   Gary Justice
   Pete Justus
   Mikel K
   Scott C. Kaestner
   Sheema Kalbasi
   Peycho Kanev
   Rachel Kann
   Jay Kantor
   Paula Sfier Kattan
   Russ Kazmierczak
   James Keane
   Gretchen Keer
   Aaron Keller
   Collin Kelley
   Kamuran Kelly
   Raud Kennedy
   Bernard Kennedy
   Kathleen Kenny
   Stephen Kerr
   Hari Bhajan Khalsa
   Just Kibbe
   Jerome Kiel
   lalo kikiriki
   Ashley King
   Robert S King
   Franklin Lafayette King
   Sofia Kioroglou
   Rusty Kjarvik
   Kenny Klein
   LeAnne Kline
   Deborah P Kolodji
   Tracy Koretsky
   Edith Kornfeld
   George Korolog
   Dimitris P. Kraniotis
   Mark Krewatch
   Chris Krueger
   Amanda Krut
   Thomas Krämer
   Gerard Kuc
   Christopher Kuhn
   Donna Kuhn
   Len Kuntz
   Craig Kurtz
   Tammy Ho Lai-Ming
   Daniel Lambert
   Anthony Langford
   Donald Langosy
   Ray Lanthier
   Phillip Larrea
   Phillip Larrea
   Kasandra Larsen
   Wolf Larsen
   Ethan Latham
   Lisa LaTourette
   Marie Lecrivain & Laura A. Lionello
   Marianne LaValle-Vincent
   Kevin Lavey
   Judith A. Lawrence
   Eric Lawson
   Richard Leach
   Marie Lecrivain
   Anne Lecrivain
   Noah Lederman
   Pete Lee
   Emma Lee
   Kevin Patrick Lee
   N.M. Leepsa
   Alexandra Leggat
   Laura LeHew
   Gary Lehmann
   Sharmagne Leland-St. John
   Kevin LeMaster
   Michal Lemberger
   Kim Leng
   Roland Lesterin
   Tiffany Lettieri
   P.A. Levy
   Martin Lewis
   Cheyenne Lewis
   Anthony Liccione
   Cynthia Linville
   Laura Lionello
   Zachary Locklin
   Jessica Lopez
   Harold Lorin
   Tess. Lotta
   B.D. Love
   Adam Lowis
   Ron Lucas
   Andrew Lundwall
   Rick Lupert
   Suzan Lustig
   Radomir Luza
   Stosh Machek
   John MacKenna
   Sarah Maclay
   Stefanie Maclin
    Magdalena
   Gary Maggio
   Holly Magill
   Anthony Magistrale
   Marieta Maglas
   Suvi Mahonen
   Donal Mahoney
   Robert Maiolo
   Kelly Ann Malone
   Michael Malota
   Shahé Mankerian
   Angela Consolo Mankiewicz
   Chris Mansell
   H.E. Mantel
   April-May March
   Rick Marlatt
   John Marshall
   Agnes Marton
   Francis Masat
   Lee Mason
   Hyatt Mason
   Anthony Mason
   Johnny Masuda
   Mira N. Mataric
   Ellyn Maybe
   Michelle Mazzetti
   Mary L. Mazzocco
   Ted Mc Carthy
   Austin McCarron
   Terry McCarty
   Paul McConnell
   Brendan McCormack
   Deborah McCreath-Akbar
   Catfish McDaris
   Bray McDonald
   Karen J McDonnell
   Matt McGee
   Allen McGill
   Afric McGlinchey
   Terance James McGunigle
   Cat Angelique McIntire
   David McIntire
   david mclean
   Isobel McQueen
   Fernando Meisenhaulter
    Mephistopheles
   Corey Mesler
   Melissa Michaels
    Mike the Poet
   Scott Miller
   Richard Lee Miller
   Robert John Miller
   Hany Haggag Abdl Mobdy
   Richard Modiano
   William Mohr
   Sonnet Mondal
   Jason Monios
   Leslie Monsour
   Amanda Montei
   Patrick Mooney
   Carl Moore
   Greggory Moore
    Albert Lee Moran
   A.J. Morelli
   Christopher Mulrooney
   Frank Mundo
   Barbara-Marie Mundt
   Augusto Munoz
   Mark Murphy
   Craig Murray
   Kristine Ong Muslim
   JL Nathan
   Nimah Nawwab
   Leslie Maryann Neal
   Jason Neese
   Raghab Nepal
   Robbi Nester
   Mindy Nettifee
   Martina Reisz Newberry
   Beth Escott Newcomer
   Peter Nezafati
   Scott Nichols
   keith niles
   Dave Nordling
   Aire Celeste Norell
   Steve Norwood
   Laura Nye
   Toti O'Brien
   Charlotte O'Brien
   Suzanne O'Connell
   Katie O'Loughlin
   Peter O'Niell
   Tom O'Reilly
   Akor Emmanuel Oche
   A.J. Odasso
   Rita Odeh
   Kirsten Ogden
   Daniel Olivas
   Maurice Oliver
   Marc Olmstead
   Philip ONeil
   Nzingah Oniwosan
   Chika Onyenezi
   Nina Orlovskaya
   Sergio Ortiz
   David Ishaya Osu
   Scott Thomas Outlar
   Holly Painter
   Lizbeth Palma
   Heather Palmer
   Greg Patrick
   Miss Natalie Patterson
   David E. Patton
   Tim Peeler
   Steve Pelcman
   Angel Perales
   Alice Pero
   Angela J. Perry
   Helen Peterson
   Brenda Petrakos
   Adam Phillips
   James G Piatt
   Rebecca Pierce
   Gareth Pike
   James Pinkerton
   Rob Plath
   Kushal Poddar
   Contributors to poeticdiversity
   Meg Pokrass
   Traian Pop Traian
   Bethany W Pope
   Wayne E. Popelka
   Elisha Porot
   Adrian Potter
   Ren Powell
   Frank Praeger
   Luke Prater
   Kristena Prater
   Shannon Prince
   Stephany Prodromides
   Hattie Quinn
   Octavio Quintanilla
   Beverly J. Raffaele
    Raindog
   Catherine Rajca
   Steve Ramirez
   Mauricio Alejandro Ramos
   Vishnu Rao
   Ingrid Rattay
   James Rauff
   Kasey Ray
   Bili Redd
   Brian Redfern
   Marie Rennard
   Luivette Resto
   E.W. Richardson
   John Richmond
   Francisca Ricinski-Marienfeld
   Kevin Ridgeway
   Lillian Ridgeway
   Dee Rimbaud
   Elijiah Rios
   Cat Risinger
   Ariel Robello
   Ebi Robert
   John D Robinson
   Paula Rodriguez
   Nydia Rojas
   Daniel Romo
   Rina Rose
   Emily Rose
   Diana Rosen
   Poet-broker Rosenthal
   Alison Ross
   James Robert Rudolph
   Walter Ruhlmann
   Gina MarySol Ruiz
   Cody Rukasin
   Cody Rukasin
   Ashley Rumery
   David W. Rushing
   Maryann Russo
   Sonya Sabanac
   Howard Sage
   Russell Salamon
   April Salzano
   Bryan Sanders
   Lisa Marie Sandoval
   Cecile Sarruf
    Sasparella
   Ethan Sassouni
   John Saunders
   Lorraine Sautner
   Rati Saxena
   Iftekhar Sayeed
   Frances Schiavina
   Kim Schroeder
   Carol Schwalberg
   Peter Schwartz
   Ken Scott
   Sondra L. Scott
   David Scriven
   Justin Scupine
   LB Sedlacek
   Lisa Segal
   Anthony Seidman
   Anthony Seidman
   Oleg Semonov
   John W Sexton
   Jack Allen Shafer
   Dahn Shaulis
   Tom Sheehan
   Jake Sheff
   Steve Shickman
   Nancy Shiffrin
   June Shiitake
   Ferrari Silverpowder
   Rishan Singh
   Durlabh Singh
   Kalpna Singh-Chitnis
   Apryl Skies
   Knute Skinner
   Sam Skow
   Ratpack Slim
   Lee Sloca
   Carol Smallwood
   Clinton Smith
   Danielle Smith
    smzang
   Kate Soto
   Ghetto Speare
   Jeanne Marie Spicuzza
   Richard Spuler
   Matina Stamatakis
   Jan Steckel
   Julia Stein
   Eric Steineger
   Carl Stillwell
   Bruce Stirling
   Alex Stolis
   Karr Stratynberg
   Kevin Stricke-9
   Keith Stump
   Daniel Suffian
   Annette Sugden
   J. C. Sullivan
   Dee Sunshine
   Mani Suri
   John Duncan Talbird
   Sister Taxi Hopscotch
   Barbara A. Taylor
   Jonathan Taylor
   Allen Taylor
   Mark Taylor
   Paul Kareem Tayyar
   Alene Terzian
    The Unarmed Man
   A. Thiagarajan
   G. Murray Thomas
   Lynne Thompson
   David Thornbrugh
   Kari Thune
   Sarah Thursday
   Ilona Timoszuk
   Tim Tipton
    TJungle
   Chrys Tobey
    tolbert
   Imani Tolliver
   A. TOMIC
   Anthony Torchia
   Mary Torregrossa
   Evan Traiger
   Davide Trame
   Tri Tran
   Ryan Tranquilla
   Alain Marcel Treadaway
   Pedro Trevino-Ramirez
   Ben Trigg
   Paul Tristram
   Maja Trochimczyk
    Troy
   The TruthHearse
   Tatiana Tulskaya
   Yelena and Roman Tunkel
   John Turi
   Danny Uebbing
   Amy Upham
   Amy Uyematsu
   Philomena van Rijswijk
   Gene van Troyer
   Wanda Vanhoy Smith
   Brenda Varda
   Luis Rubio Vargas
   Carmen Vega
   Ms. Veronica
   Papa Vic
   Clee Villasor
   Ajise Vincent
   Curran D. Vinson
   Jason Visconti
   Anca Vlasopolos
   Daniela Voicu
   Claire Walker
   toren wallace
   r.k. wallace
   Evan Walsh
   Sharieff Walters
   John Wariner
   Deborah L Warner
   Christopher Watkins
   Brian Watson
   Lafayette Wattles
   Charlie Weber
   Ellen Webre
   Justin Weiler
   Viola Weinberg
   Florence Weinberger
   Desmond Weindorf
   Cindy Weinstein
   Denise R. Weuve
   Rev. Dave Wheeler
   Leigh White
   Megwynn White
   Kelley White
   J.T. Whitehead
   Claire Williams
   John Sibley Williams
   Patrick Williamson
   Martin Willitts, Jr
   Jessica Wilson
   Amye Wilson
   Robert D. Wilson
   Alicia Winski
   Tyler Joseph Wiseman
   Joseph Wistren
   Wayne Wolfson
   Terry Wolverton
   Nina Womack
   Seth Woolf
   Kirby Wright
   Gianna Wurzl
   Abigail Wyatt
   John Yamrus
   Müesser Yeniay
   Julie Yi
   Gregory T. Young
   Britney Young
   Omar ZahZah
   Mariano Zaro
   Michael Zeltser
    
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Marie Lecrivain & Angel Uriel Perales
May 2005
   

 

Luis Rodriguez: poet, journalist, and activist

    There are very few artists who have accomplished as much as Luis Rodriguez. A poet (now nominated for California Poet Laureate), author, journalist, activist, publisher (Tia Chucha Press), and co-founder (along with his wife Trini and two other partners) of Tia Chucha Cafe & Centro Cultural; a bookstore, coffee house, art and workshop center in Sylmar. Luis took some time from his busy schedule to sit down and discuss his views on poetry, the art of writing, and the future of the L.A. poetry scene.



    (Note: this inteview took place in February 2005, so some of the events mentioned herein have already taken place.)



    ML: How did you get involved in the poetry scene?



    LR: In L.A., I started about 25 years ago, in high school. I didn't know it yet, but I wrote little poetic vignettes. I started going to workshops in East LA, the LA Latino Writers Workshop. That is where I really learned what poetry is about. There were a lot of great writers there: Victor Valle, who became a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Susan Mena, who was also a journalist, Louisa Nortes, and Eric Gamboa.    They had a group called the Barrio Writers Workshop. They held workshops in East L.A, Echo Park, and even in the prisons. We started doing poetry readings at Self-Help Graphics. I ended up becoming the director of the group in the early '80's. I then became the editor of the magazine, XismeArte.

    When I got to Chicago, I already had that history, and I got there at the right time. The poetry slams had just barely gotten started. Then I really got into the poetry scene. I got active, and started a poetry press (Tia Chucha), and worked with the Chicago Poetry Festival.



    ML: Why did you found Tia Chucha Press?



    LR: In Chicago, art and poetry were coming out everywhere; in the bars, the cafes, the libraries. Every night there were two or three venues where people were doing poetry, and I went to all of them, and read.

    There was no press in Chicago covering the scene. I started by publishing my book (Poems Across the Pavement) first, in '89. I got money from the University of Chicago to do that, and it got a lot of attention. People started buying the book. So over the next two years, I published mostly Chicago poets: Patricia Smith, who became the International Slam Champion several times over; Michael Warr; David Hernandez, who was the main Puerto Rican poet at the time. He had a street sound with music and poetry.



    AUP: And Marc Smith?



    We didn't publish Marc Smith. We worked with Marc, I knew him from early on.

    Tia Chucha has published over 40 books and a CD. And it's not just Chicago poets, we publish from all over.



    AUP: How much diversity is there in the authors you publish?



    We started off with a lot of diversity. The poetry scene in Chicago is very "democratic" in that sense. I have the feeling the poetry scene in L.A. is very segregated. The Chicanos had East L.A., and there were a lot of white poeple at Beyond Baroque. There was stuff coming out of South Central and other places, but it was all seperated into where people met.

    In Chicago, it was all mixed; Chicanos, Puerto Ricans, African-Americans, and the rest, and so I started publishing right away. Michael Warr, Patricia Smith and Rohan Preston are African-American. David Hernandez is Puerto-Rican. Jean Howard is Anglo. Lisa Buscani is also Anglo. We publish the gamut of the best in the poetry scene. I've been doing it since I brought the press back to L.A.



    ML: Why did you move back to Sylmar, and not East L.A.?



    LR: I moved back in December 2000, to Pacoima, because my wife Trini grew up and still had family there. We lived in the house she grew up in. My family had scattered from the East L.A. area.

    We realised the North East Valley is a neglected area. This is the Mexican side of the valley, 80% Mexican and Central American. There was nothing here culturally; no bookstores, no movie houses, no art galleries, there was nothing. 400,000 people live here, and there was nothing going on.

    We thought this would be a good venue, even though I got friends in South Central and East L.A. who said, "Why don't you start something down here?"

    In the future we might, but right here is where we are going to keep Tia Chucha going and growing."



    ML: We'll you've done a great job. I like the space, it's very warm and welcoming.

    You're a journalist and a poet. I heard you read at Los Angeles City College in 1993, at Beyond Baroque and The Midnight Special Bookstore. How does your role as a journalist affect you as a poet and novelist?



    LR: These are two different writing streams. Contradictory streams, but I think I've been able to make them work.

    In journalism, you have to have an eye for detail, and use concrete language. In poetry, you get a chance to tap into emotional resonance. You can use and play with the musicality of language. Somehow, in my writing, both happen. I have a journalistic eye, but I have a lot of musicality in my words. I have been able to put both of them together, especially in my creative writing, like non-fiction and short stories.

    Sometimes, I think it hurts people who don't know which way to go when they are doing both, but it comes together for me.



    ML: What circumstances led you to write the collection of short stories, The Republic of East L.A.? I've been online at Amazon and the book has gotten a lot of great reviews.



    LR: All of my work is autobiographical. My poetry and even my children's books are autobiographical. I finally decided to imagine people.

    Now the Republic of East L.A. is written like real stories but I imagined them, and I couldn't do that for the longest time. My memoir (Always Running), and my poetry were based on everything I had experienced.

    On my own I started to write short stories. I had a whole number of them before I decided I was capable of doing it. The first short story was a little too stuck in reality, and I kept working at it. FInally I got to the point where the characters had a life of their own. You know, how a character develops in their own little story, and how they carry you through their lives. That began to happen with my short stories.

    Now, I have a novel coming out in April, my first fiction novel.



    AUP: What is the name of your novel?



    LR: It's called The Music of the Mill. It's about three generations of a Chicano family in a steel mill in L.A.

    I worked in a steel mill for a number of years, so it's kind of going back to that time, but re-imagining everything and characters coming alive and completing themselves...it's amazing when it happens.



    AUP: There is nothing autobiographical in Republic of East L.A.?



    LR: There is a lot. Some of the characters I know personally, as well of some of the incidents with some of the people. But, what happens - again - is I started off with something I saw, or felt, then it went completely off on its own.

    In the first story "My Ride, My Revolution," there actually was a limo drive who brought a limo into the barrio of Boyle Heights. But that was the only bit that was true. That character was completely made up, and I then imagined what the limo driver was like, and where he was working. That's the beauty of it. You get something real, and then it goes beyond that.



    ML: You're a poet, journalist, editor, publisher. You started Tia Chucha to support the art community in San Fernando Valley. When do you find the time to write?



    LR: Well, I have a lot of help. People volunteer. Tia Chucha has volunteer editors. The non-profit center next door has volunteers and volunteer resident artists. There is even a volunteer board.

    My wife Trini helps a lot to run things. It's not like I'm doing everything by myself. I have a vision, I have inititiative. I get the money, and try to get the outreach. But people embrace it and take it on, so I don't really have to make that happen. I do have to with my writing. Nobody can do that for me.

    My writing is like a job, from 9-5. I have the luxury where I work at home.

    I'm gone 80-100 days a year, traveling. When I'm at home, I work on the computer. I try to write 2-3 hours a day, enough to get something going. Right now, I'm working on some essays. I have a short story in the works, and some other book projects.



    AUP: So, writing is your main vocation?



    LR: That's what I do.



    AUP: Not like the rest of us poets who have to work a job.



    LR: No, I know. It took a me a long time, I used to work two or three jobs and write on the side. But now, it's what I do.

    Actually, the side things for me are Tia Chucha, the non-profit center, the press, and my other book that is coming out this spring. My focus is the writing.



    AUP: Congratulations.



    LR: I've got another poetry book coming out in the fall. It's called My Nature is Hunger



    ML: Is it being published by Tia Chucha?



    LR: No. It's being published by Curbstone Press. They've published three of my books.



    AUP: Who are some of your influences?



    LR: They run the gamut. Pablo Neruda is my favorite poet. I love John Steinbeck, and Theodore Dreiser. I also like the work of John Fante, T.C. Boyle, and Sherman Alexi.



    AUP: Sherman Alexi is a great writer.



    LR: Reading a lot of great writers is a very important part of writing.



    ML: How do you feel about the poetry scene as a whole?



    LR: I think as a whole, the scene has the same problem as L.A. in that it's fractured. But, I think it's a very vibrant scene. The poets I've seen here and on your website are very strong young people with a lot of wonderful ways of saying things, Ariel Robello being one of them. It's a vibrant scene, but scattered.

    The beauty about Chicago is that it's a compact city. Everybody gets to know each other. You get to see everybody at all the venues. Here, it's not that way.

    I think Beyond Baroque, especially since the early '80's, was what I felt oriented to the white community. I think it's a vital institution, and it's been the center for the poetry scene for so long. But, hopefully we are creating a vital scene here too.

    We have an open-mic here. Some nights have been amazing, some nights only a few people show up. We've had some amazing young people get up and read.
    We're a little corner of the scence, but it's fractured. Who's going to go out and get these people? It's just the nature of the city. I don't think it's bad or good, it's just the way it is.

    In the early '80's, I thought it was more segregated. I think things have come together much better now.



    ML: That's definitely true. And you've certainly done your part in making that happen. Angel told me almost a year ago that you had built this great place and were holding these readings, and I thought, "Wow, that is so cool." and I knew that it was going to be something good.

    One of my goals for poeticdiversity is to try and get to those areas, those enclaves to come together more into the mainstream.



    AUP: I call it "Uniting all the little Balkan States."



    LR: Actually, that's what it is.



    ML: What suggestions would you to further the involvement of bi-lingual poets, either in this area, or in other areas to become more a part of the L.A. poetry community?



    LR: I think we need to have a strong L.A. poetry festival. I know there has been a poetry festival, but I think one that can really reach out, maybe more central to downtown L.A., not just the Westside, but to people all over.

    There is a lot of poetry happening that people don't even know about, like in the Pico-Union area, South Central, and East L.A. There is a strong need to galvanize all the poets, put them together, and hear all the voices; Spanish, English, Korean, Armenian. You know, just really mix it up.

    I don't know if anyone has the vision, the money, or even the interest, but that's what L.A. can do. It can have a vital, wonderful festival that can encompass all the things going on. Again, I don't want to put down the festival that does exist, I've never been to it. It's probably great, but more needs to happen.



    ML: That's interesting. The L.A. Poetry Festival is a month-long event. They have a series of more established readings, but all kinds of venues get sponsered. I co-host a reading in Santa Monica, the Rapp Saloon, and when the L.A. poetry festival comes around, we get fifty readers who wouldn't typically show up. It's also the one time of year where you get to see any cross-section of L.A. poets.



    LR: Then it would need to build on that, and I wouldn't want to say it's a bad thing. The festival is obviously important, but maybe more can be built up further.



    AUP: They bring in a lot of names from out of town to get a bigger draw. My criticism is there are a lot of local writers who are established that are strong enough to make the festival happen on its own.



    LR: And that is what I think helped the Chicago poetry festival, which no longer exists, by the way. When we did it, we brought in only Chicago poets. It was a day-long event, not a month-long one.At its height we had 3,000 people show up at the Navy Pier to hear poet, after poet, after poet. We had poets like Gwendolyn Brooks. She was like the Mother-Goddess of Chicago poetry for everybody.



    ML: There's an environmental festival called Worldfest in April (2005). One part of Worldfest is an all-day poetry reading, and I'd like to ask you: Who would you reccomend to feature? I have a chance to fill four slots, and I got one left.



    LR: Ariel Robello would be the one.



    ML: I already asked her. She's on tour until June.



    LR: I think a lot of the young people around here need more development. I did some poetry workshops, but I want to continue to get them to learn more about poetry performance.

I think that is what people need. To me, the Chicago poetry scene was like school. People didn't see it that way, but you got schooled in language, performance, and the music of words.It was a very hopeful kind of thing. we don't have that here yet?



    AUP: Did you go to school in Chicago?



    LR: No, I lived there for fifteen years. I worked there. I mean "school," in the sense of learning, by watching people.

I think one good thing L.A. has is the L.A. Times Festival of Books. I've been to so many book festivals, and that is one of the best.



    AUP: They have a poetry pavillion.



    ML: There's another; the DIY (Do It Yourself) Book Festival. I went last October (2004), and it's almost as big a draw as the L.A.Times Book Festival, and it's for small presses.



    LR: Where is it?



    ML: In West Hollywood, near the Pacific Design Center. I think this year it will take place in September.



    LR: I've been there the last couple of years, on panels.



    AUP: Have you ever been to the Shouting Coyote Festival?



    LR: No.



    AUP: They have two seperate stages for poets. Some poets perform on both, it's not organized by the same people, but I like it.



    LR: No kidding, that's great. Where is it?



    AUP: In Sunland-Tujunga.



    AUP: The reason I asked if you went to school in Chicago - street poetry versus academic poetry. How do you balance it?



    LR: I'm not an academic poet. There's just no way around it. I can't say that I am.

    I think the battle of the so-called "us versus them" is totally contrived. Good poetry comes from many different places. There are great poets from the street, whereever that might be, performing and there's some great academic poets.

    Somebody else had decided that there's two different worlds here. I don't know, because I'm not an academic poet, I don't come from there, but I do read so many poets, and some of them are academic. A lot of their stuff is amazing; I like it when the words happen in a way that only "this" person could have done it, and something magical begins to happen. It doesn't matter to me where it comes from.

    Academic poets is have more time to analyze, deconstruct, and workshop their poetry. If you are a street poet, sometimes it happens when you make it happen, but I think it shows that anybody, academic or not, has poetry in them. That's the main thing, that there is poetry in everyone, and there are ways to tap into that poetry. I do it in juvenile facilities, homeless shelters, migrant camps, prisons, public schools, whereever.
    And you know, all these people say,"These kids aren't poetic," and I have them doing things they wouldn't have thought they could do, and I have them writing amazing things.

    So, there is kind of a false dichotomy in a certain sense.On the other hand, I always thought people who have money could go to school and learn. To me there is a class relationship to that. There's nothing wrong with them if they can do it, but there's no reason to look down on anyone else who doesn't have it. You know what I mean. Poetry should be for everybody.



    AUP: That leads me to my next question.I've noticed Latino, Hispanic poetry in particular, gets more attention when it's socially conscious. What's wrong with just quality Hispanic poetry without including the aspect I just mentioned?



    LR: It runs both ways. Like for example, my poetry does. When I came into the Chicano Movement, there was a lot of interest to speak to your reality, which prompted us, in many ways to become poets. We wanted to find a language to address the issues that we were facing. But the more you develop as a poet, pretty soon you are writing love songs or writing to your kid. So if you look at my poetry and at Chicano poetry, you'll see it runs the gamut. It's true a lot of the initial impulse of Chicano poetry was that movement, but I think it's also how people developed. I wouldn't be against anybody writing about the rain versus a cop beating up a kid in the street. They're both areas for poetry to come out of, but the movement created what we call Chicano poetry.

    It's different for other Latinos. It all depends. Puerto Ricans ar very much like that, they came out of the same movement. I found a lot of Cuban-American writers didn't seem to have the same impetus, necessarily. So many of them developed quality poems about other subjects, you know, about their lives, except in relation to Castro.

    Your environment gives you the pallate to write with.



***to be continued in poeticdiversity Issue #8, August 1, 2005.



    Luis Rodriguez is convinced that a writer can change the world. Indeed it is through education and the power of words that Rodriguez saw his own way out of the barrio of East L.A. and successfully broke free from the years of violence and desperation he spent as an active gang member. Achieving success as an award-winning Chicano poet, he was sure the streets would haunt him no more — until his young son joined a gang himself. Rodriguez fought for his child by telling his own story in the bestseller Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A., a vivid memoir that explores the motivation of gang life and cautions against the death and destruction that inevitably claim its participants.


    Rodriguez is also known for helping start a number of prominent organizations — such as Chicago’s Guild Complex, one of the largest literary arts organizations in the Midwest, and the small poetry publishing house, Tia Chucha Press. He is also one of the founders of Youth Struggling for Survival, a Chicago-based not-for- profit community group working with gang and non-gang youth. Along with his wife, Trini, and brother-in-law Enrique Sanchez, Luis is co-founder of Tia Chucha's Café & Centro Cultural—a bookstore, coffee shop, art gallery, performance space, and workshop center in Los Angeles. Rodriguez conducts workshops, readings, and talks in juvenile detention facilities, migrant camps, universities, and public and private schools. Rodriguez addresses the complex but vital issues of race, class, gender, and personal rage through dialogue, story, poetry, and art.


    An accomplished poet, Luis Rodriguez is the author of several collections of poetry, including Poems Across the Pavement, The Concrete River, and Trochemoche. His poetry has won a Poetry Center Book Award, a PEN/Josephine Miles Literary Award, and ForeWord magazine’s Silver Book Award, among others. His books for children,America Is Her Name and It Doesn't Have To Be This Way: A Barrio Story, are published in both English and Spanish. Considered by the American Libraries Association as one of the nation’s 100 most censored books, his work Always Running earned a Carl Sandburg Literary Award and was designated a New York Times Notable Book. Luis Rodriguez is also author of Hearts and Hands: Creating Community in Violent Times and a short story collection, The Republic of East LA : Stories. His first novel, Music of the Mill (Rayo Books/HarperCollins), was published in May 2005. His fourth poetry collection is My Nature is Hunger (Curbstone Press, fall 2005). Luis Rodriguez was one of 50 leaders worldwide selected as “Unsung Heroes of Compassion,” presented by the Dalai Lama.

copyright 2005 Marie Lecrivain & Angel Uriel Perales