In 1954, Luis J. Rodríguez was born in El Paso, Texas, and grew up in Watts and the East Los Angeles area. Involved with gangs at the age of 11, he had lost 25 of his friends by the time he turned 18. His autobiographical account, Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A. (Curbstone Books, 1993), received the Carl Sandburg Award of the Friends of the Chicago Public Library.
His books of poetry include My Nature is Hunger: New & Selected Poems, 1989-2004 (Curbstone Books, 2005); Trochemoche (Curbstone Books, 1998); The Concrete River (Curbstone Books, 1991), which won a PEN West/Josephine Miles Award for Literary Excellence; and Poems Across the Pavement (Tía Chucha, 1989), which received San Francisco State University's Poetry Center Book Award.
He is also a journalist and critic and the founder of Tía Chucha Press, which publishes emerging, socially conscious poets. In May 1998, Curbstone Press published his first children's book, entitled América Is Her Name. In 2014, he was appointed poet laureate of Los Angeles. He currently resides in California and manages the Tia Chucha Cultural Center in San Fernando.