poem index

Read ThIs Poem: 826LA

826 LA826LA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write. Our services are structured around our understanding that great leaps in learning can happen with one-on-one attention, and that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success. With this in mind, we provide after-school tutoring, evening and weekend workshops, in-school tutoring, help for English language learners, and assistance with student publications. All of our programs are challenging and enjoyable, and ultimately strengthen each student's power to express ideas effectively, creatively, confidently, and in his or her individual voice.

The work of the participating poets in Read This Poem is a reflection of their own point of view and artistic expression, and does not represent the views of 826 National or its chapters. Some of the poems may address mature themes or contain adult language, and may not be suitable for all audiences, including students at 826 chapters.

Iris De Anda Picks Mike "The Poet" Sonksen

Mike “the Poet” Sonksen takes us on a visual ride through the heartbeat and rhythms of the diverse City of Angels. "I Am Alive in Los Angeles" carries a melodic vibrant energy. This poetic song rings true with images that bring the people to the page. We are taken into the streets, visit the different blocks, and come away with the spirit of a place filled with juxtaposed lives. Thank you Mike for capturing the noise, the hues, the intense narrative of all who come together in this corner and call it home. I Am Alive in Los Angeles and so are you wherever you may find yourself when you read Mike’s words.

Iris De Anda

Iris De Anda is a writer, activist, and practitioner of the healing arts. A native of Los Angeles she believes in the power of spoken word, poetry, storytelling, and dreams. She currently hosts The Writers Underground Open Mic every Third Thursday of the month at the Eastside Cafe. She is the author of CODESWITCH: Fires From Mi Corazon.


Mike Sonksen, Mike The Poet

Mike Sonksen, aka Mike the Poet, is a third-generation L.A. native acclaimed for poetry performances, published articles, and mentoring teen writers. His book, I Am Alive in Los Angeles! has been added to the curriculum of several universities and high schools. His work celebrates literary Los Angeles.

Photo credit: Chris Felver

Mike "The Poet" Sonksen Picks Marisela Norte

Marisela Norte writes poems that navigate intersections and boundaries with an inter-lingual flavor. Many have called her "the ambassador and poet laureate of East Los Angeles." She writes about the community she grew up in. She writes most of her poems on the bus and often lets the length of her ride determine the length of the poem. In the piece, "Lost in Los (Angel) Es," she displays her brilliant poetry of witness, "Each street, each story melted on a page." Sights and sounds come flying by through the bird's-eye view of her window and onto the page in Technicolor: "Radios blast each other on the streets of Los Angeles con Salsa Picante!"


Marisela Norte

Considered one of the most important voices to come out of East Los Angeles, Marisela Norte is the author of Peeping Tom Tom Girl, a collection of poetry. Norte's work was recently featured in the MTA's Out Your Window project and named one of the best transit poems in the world by The Atlantic Monthly.​

Photo credit: M. Vincente Puga

Marisela Norte Picks Ramón García

Reading Ramón García's poem "Sidonie" is finding yourself on a Tres Estrellas bus suddenly detouring through the Central Valley of the Dolls where “sensuality can also be mute, after all, it doesn't have much to say, though it writes itself beautifully.” García leads you into la vida cotidiana far from the French linen tablecloths of Colette's backyard garden, where you find your place at a table being served dainty bowls of unsweetened memories, ashes, and freshly picked strawberries. “In these mundane towns as in the world of Colette the spirit is manifest in what remains...”


Ramon Garcia

Ramón Garcí​​a is the author of two books of poetry: Other Countries (What Books Press, 2010) and The Chronicles, forthcoming from Red Hen Press this year. He is a professor at California State University, Northridge, and lives in downtown Los Angeles.

Photo credit: David Garza

Ramon Garcia Picks Terry Wolverton

Terry Wolverton’s “Poem to the Detroit River” is specifically about Detroit, but also represents the destructive residues of post-Reaganomics American cities in general. It describes a new urban wasteland of neo-liberal industrial ruin and misogynist violence. When the poet states, at the beginning of the poem, “Not really a river at all,” she could be describing the Los Angeles River. “You are the mirror into which / we plunge…”addresses the Detroit River, but we know the river is a symbol that encompasses violence in Detroit, and emblematically, countless women disenfranchised by economics and the normalization of abuse.


Terry Wolverton. Photo credit: Yvonne M. Estrada

Terry Wolverton is the author of ten books of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, including Embers, a novel in poems, and Insurgent Muse, a memoir. She is the founder of Writers at Work, a creative writing studio in Los Angeles and a member of the affiliate faculty at the Antioch University Los Angeles MFA Writing Program.

Photo credit: Yvonne M. Estrada