As the official Poet Laureate of Los Angeles, Luis Rodriguez’s verses tell the story of a Los Angeles made of ideas and daydreams, the hood and Hollywood without any rolling cameras. With over fifteen works of published poetry, fiction and non-fiction, Rodriguez overturns every stone and breaks down every bit of concrete to tell the story of who and what makes up Los Angeles as both a city of dreams and fallen angels. He is known for his extensive work with the San Fernando Valley community through his founding of the bookstore and cultural arts center – Tia Chucha’s. His poetry pays homage to his people and to Los Angeles, which he characterizes through vivid imagery, describing and uncovering both the glamorous and primal behaviors of our beloved city. Check out his poem, ‘The Concrete River‘ to get a taste of what Luis Rodriguez’s Los Angeles is all about.
California native Kim Young is a poet of experiences. As a professor of Creative Writing at California State University, Northridge, Kim Young shares her talent and literary know-how with younger generations of creators. To go a step further, she is in fact a woman of many talents and wisdoms as the founder and editor of Chaparral, an online journal that features poetry from around Southern California. Her work explores instances of human life in detail, shifting time and perspective to deconstruct memories and build them up all over again. ‘Abduction‘ from her book of poetry ‘Night Radio’ is an example of how she knits together slow motion reflections to explore and recreate pieces of time and space. If and when you hear Kim read, you’ll no doubt get lost in the soft cadences of her lines. Even more fascinating is when she shares scattered bits of her thoughts – moving her hands this way and that, and it’s almost as if you can see the nooks and crannies of her mind.
For a touch of someone born in the 1990’s, Alina Nguyen is a poet of few and careful words. Her poetry is carefully worded and minimalistic, as her alias so boldly declares: her blog, The Minimalist Poet, shares her current and published works. When asked to describe herself in a nutshell, Alina humbly writes, ‘I am a poetry, tattoo, and comic book enthusiast who writes about nostalgia, mundanity, death, identity, and the experiences of being mixed race.’ As a younger poet, Alina’s skill lies not only in her ability to craft beautifully simple yet complex lines, but also in that she makes these words on the page (or screen) so memorable. In fewer words, her poetry definitely gives you the feels; her words entangle themselves in the minds of her readers like a cassette on repeat, and in her small lines this poet makes the biggest statements. Check out her piece ‘Attainable Madness‘ to see it for yourself.
‘Lankershim Lights‘ takes you by the hand and runs you through Los Angeles. Radomir Luza is a poet, actor, and host who is also considered the Poet Laureate of North Hollywood. His identification and love for this part of Los Angeles is dually noted in the poetry he creates. Much like Luis Rodriguez, Luza also takes a personal interest in the community’s identity as a hub for artists and creators. NoHo is where he chooses to share his mind and stake his claim, specifically hosting UNBUCKLED: NoHo Poetry every first Saturday of the month from 4:00pm to 6:00pm at TU Studios. Step out of your little box and into a world of words and perspective. While you might not think you understand poetry, just listen and see where it takes you; UNBUCKLED might be the perfect place to do just that.
Yazmin Monet Watkins
Yazmin Monet Watkins is what a feminist looks like. As a spoken word poet, she is a powerhouse for gay rights and social advocacy. Her work, such as the poem ‘A Lesson in This Queer African American Woman’s History‘ is current, cutting, and altogether memorable. If you want to feel like you got punched in the gut with personal politics, this is the poet for you. Watkins authored the collection of poems, ‘Love Without Limits: The Bylaws of Love,’ which combines poetry and photography (self-coined poetography), for those readers searching for poetry that is more visual. She is edgy, outspoken, and an artist through and through.
While most might think prose and end-stopped lines are all about hearts, red roses and blue violets, I dare you to take a moment and delve into the world of exploration through lines on a page. These poets prove that there is so much more to discover beyond memorizing The Red Wheelbarrow.