Luis J. Rodriguez
Updated on July 10, 2012

Order the works of
Luis J. Rodriguez

Visit the author's web log for his latest opinions, poems, news, information on book tours, speaking engangements, and much more!

My Name's Not Rodriguez, LJR's spoken word/music CD is in its second printing - and it's now available at Bestbuy, Tower Records, and
Details here.

Rodriguez's account of his coming of age is vivid, raw, fierce, and fearless. Here's truth no television set burning night and day, could ever begin to offer.
-Gary Soto, New York
Times Book Review

Rodriguez's proven commitment to healing and justice for his community gives his writing authenticity and thus authority.
-Sojourners Magazine

Bravo, Luis Rodriguez, for the beauty of a strong singular voice.
-Piri Thomas, author of Down These Mean Streets

Luis J. Rodriguez's new memoir, the sequel to "Always Running," will be released in October of 2011 by Touchstone Books/Simon & Schuster. The book is entitled "It Calls You Back: An Odyssey Through Love, Addiction, Revolutions, and Healing" (ISBN 978-1-4165-8416-2; hardcover; $24.99). Please go to Luis's Events page on this website to get information on future readings, talks, and book signings, including for the new book. For ordering information from Touchstone Books, please call 1-800-223-2336. Audio books of "It Calls You Back" as well as "Always Running" are now available at

You can order books and tapes at,, or any other book outlet in the Internet or in your neighborhood. Please support independent booksellers whenever you can. If you want to order these through Tia Chucha's Centro Cultural & Bookstore, the cultural space and bookstore my wife and I helped create in the San Fernando Valley section of Los Angeles, go to

"In this brilliantly jagged sequel to the gang-life classic, Always Running (1994), acclaimed journalist, poet and fiction writer Rodriguez (Music of the Mill, 2005, etc.) chronicles his struggle to leave behind a drug- and crime-ridden world that always threatened to 'call him back.' An acute political consciousness and powerful love of the written word ultimately saved the author from the lurking dangers of the street and the 'nothing life' to which most Latinos in East Los Angeles were automatically condemned.

After leading a thankless working-class existence that amounted to little more than 'despair on the fast track,' Rodriguez landed in a training program for minority journalists at UC-Berkeley. '[A]s a reporter,' he writes, 'I could help right the wrongs, accomplish something long lasting with what I was being given. Now truth and the full picture could bleed from the pen or a camera, not from a gun.' But the way forward was as difficult as it was anguished. At every turn, Rodriguez had to face not only a troubled past that still beckoned to him, but also his own personal demons: alcoholism, heroine addiction and a violent temper that indiscriminately 'roll[ed] over people, family, friends, kids, [and] enemies.'

He overcame his darker urgings, but not without revisiting them through his eldest son, who became tragically entangled in the 'web' Rodriguez had escaped. Yet it was this very crisis that brought him into more authentic alignment with himself as it drew him closer to a family and community that, for all its 'diversity and antagonisms,' he could not help but love. Raw, searing reading from start to finish."--Kirkus Review

Here you can see Luis J. Rodriguez speak on "Always Running" and his new memoir, "It Calls You Back," from Studio 4/Simon & Schuster:


Steve Bertrand of NewsLook conducts an interview with Rodriguez on the topic of the author's latest book, It Calls You Back.
Watch the 9 minute streaming video interview here.


"I met a fella named Luis Rodriguez, a writer and a poet, who had a cultural center in Los Angeles. These are people I've known and worked with for a long time. These are the people trying to fill the holes that should long ago have been filled by government. Those are the people who give me optimism. They're relentlessly hopeful, and they face it all on the front lines on a daily basis."
- Bruce Springsteen from Rolling Stone magazine, Nov. 15, 2007.

My wife Trini Rodriguez, our friend Bruce Springsteen, and Luis Rodriguez backstage at the Los Angeles Sports Arena, April 2009.

For a reading by Luis J. Rodriguez of an excerpt from "Always Running, La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A.", visit That website also has a page of Luis J. Rodriguez "In His Own Words".

Luis J. Rodriguez was mentioned in this article of July 7, 2011 in the Orange County Weekly about lowrider culture in Japan.

Elvira Carrizal-Dukes interviewed me in late June 2011 for Reader's Services of the Evanston Public Library, Evanston, Illinois


Recently Luis was part of an Amici Curiae brief to arguments for ending juvenile life without parole sentencing in front of the US Supreme on November 9, 2009. Along with other notable youth offenders who have changed their lives after being given second changes (in some cases fourth or fifth chances) such as actor Charles S. Dutton, former US Senator Alan Simpson, and others, Luis' story will be included in support of petitioners Terrance Jamar Graham and Joe Harris Sullivan, both of Florida. Our hope is to overturn these laws that throw away our youth, rather than providing all the necessary resources to help turn their lives around. Visit for more information.

Stevie Wonder and Luis Rodriguez on the air at KJLH radio
Stevie Wonder and Luis Rodriguez during Stevie's show on Thursday, July 31, 2008 on KJLH-FM, 102.3, Los Angeles. Luis talked about current issues and even sang Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On" with Stevie on keyboards.

ABC's Vista L.A.covered Tia Chucha's Cultural Center in their Sept. 13, 2009 broadcast.

On Friday, Jan. 1, 2010, NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams broadcast a short segment on the life and work of Luis J. Rodriguez.

Luis J. Rodriguez is known for visiting prisons, juvenile facilities, universities, college, public & private schools, homeless shelters, Native American reservations, conferences, and more throughout the U.S., Latin America, Japan, and Europe. He often addresses issues of violence, gangs, community building, the arts, and poetry, among others, in his travels. Here are two pieces by Erica Marrero on Luis's recent visit to Chihuahua City and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico:

"Former Gang Member Says Art Is an Antidote to Violence"
"An Interview with Author and Activist Luis J. Rodríguez"


Tia Chucha Press is one of this country's best loved small presses. Now the publishing wing of Tia Chucha's Centro Cultural & Bookstore (, the press was founded almost twenty-five years ago by Luis J. Rodriguez in Chicago with the publication of his award-winning first book of poetry, "Poems Across the Pavement." He has since published the works of Chicanos, Puerto Ricans, Cuban Americans, African Americans, Jamaican Americans, Native Americans, Japanese Americans, Filipino Americans, Korean Americans, Irish Americans, Italian Americans... a truly cross cultural literary experience.

TCP authors include those who later became Pulitzer Prize nominees as well as winners of a National Book Award, Poetry Slams, a Whiting Writers Award, Lannan Fellowships, National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, a Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Writers Award, a USA Arts fellowship, and more. These poets include President Obama's inaugural poet Elizabeth Alexander as well as Patricia Smith, Diane Glancy, Terrance Hayes, A. Van Jordan, Ricardo Sanchez, Kyoko Mori, Nick Carbo, Lisa Buscani, Tony Fitzpatrick, Luivette Resto, Patricia Spears Jones, Chiwan Choi, and many others. The most recent books are "The Shallow End of Sleep" by Jose Antonio Rodriguez and "The Armageddon of Funk" by Michael Warr.

In the spring of 2012, Tia Chucha Press will produce its first non-poetry book called "Rushing Waters, Rising Dreams: How the Arts Are Transforming a Community," edited by Denise M. Sandoval and Luis J. Rodriguez, on twenty years of arts development and growth in the Northeast San Fernando Valley section of Los Angeles--the second largest Mexican community in the U.S (funded in part by the L.A. County Arts Commission). You can order Tia Chucha Press books at www.tiachucha,com or through our national distributor Northwestern University Press at or call 1-800-621-2736.

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