poem index

poet

Luis J. Rodríguez

El Paso , TX , United States
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Luis J. Rodríguez

In 1954, Luis J. Rodríguez was born in El Paso, Texas. He grew up in Watts and the East Los Angeles area, where his family faced poverty and discrimination. A gang member and drug user at the age of twelve, by the time he turned eighteen, Rodríguez had lost twenty-five of his friends to gang violence, drug overdoses, shootings, and suicide. He wrote two autobiographical accounts of his experiences with gang violence and addiction, It Calls You Back: An Odyssey Through Love, Addiction, Revolutions, and Healing (Touchstone, 2012), winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography, and Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A. (Curbstone Books, 1993), winner of 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), winner of a 2006 Paterson Poetry Book Prize; 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, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti appointed Rodríguez as the poet laureate of Los Angeles. Rodríguez currently resides in California and manages the Tía Chucha Cultural Center in San Fernando.


Selected Bibliography

Poetry

My Nature is Hunger: New & Selected Poems, 1989-2004 (Curbstone Books, 2005)
Trochemoche (Curbstone Books, 1998)
The Concrete River (Curbstone Books, 1991)
Poems Across the Pavement (Tía Chucha, 1989)

Nonfiction

It Calls You Back: An Odyssey Through Love, Addiction, Revolutions, and Healing (Touchstone, 2012)
Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A. (Curbstone Books, 1993)

by this poet

poem
We sink into the dust,
Baba and me,
Beneath brush of prickly leaves;
Ivy strangling trees--singing
Our last rites of locura.
Homeboys. Worshipping God-fumes
Out of spray cans.

Our backs press up against
A corrugated steel fence
Along the dried banks
Of a concrete river.
Spray-painted outpourings
On walls