News

Poetry as truth: Luis J. Rodriguez on campus for the Contemporary Writers Series

unnamed-2Story by Valentina Garcia, News Editor
Photo courtesy of Valentina Garcia

Poet, memoirist, fiction writer and literary activist Luis J. Rodriguez participated in the Contemporary Writers Series, for a second time, on Feb. 22. The first time he participated occurred in Oct. 2011. Rodriguez served as Poet Laureate of Los Angeles from 2014 to 2016.

Rodriguez’s public reading at Wege Ballroom focused on poetry and dialogue. He not only read from his poetry, but conversed about it. Rodriguez read poems that illustrated a variety of key moments in his life. The poems were all connected by Rodriguez’s belief that poetry is truth.

“Poets have a special obligation to tell truth,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez explained that poets’ who write about the current times and their lives are following this obligation. His writing remains true to this belief; it all stems from his life.

His book “Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A.” was inspired by his eldest son, Ramiro, who was with him that day. The poems read that Wednesday were from “Borrowed Bones,” which was published recently in April 2016. The poems were about his roots, his mom, his sons, becoming acquainted with poetry, his wife, his calling to be a writer and refusing to accept labels. Rodriguez writes about his life, and this makes his poetry truth. The audience was captivated by the truth Rodriguez shared.

In the discussion that was held after the reading of poetry, Rodriguez spent time talking about labels. His advice for writers is to remember that “nobody is born with good writing.” This is something he had to remember after a teacher told him his writing was not good. Rodriguez stressed the importance of setting aside labels and remembering, “I’m a whole human being.”

Naomi Shihab Nye will be the final writer on campus for the 2016-2017 season of the Contemporary Writers Series. Her reading will take place on April 19.

About the Writer:

IMG_4545Valentina Garcia is a second-year student who loves sunny days, Jane Austen, and preferred tea to coffee until she started college. 

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