Luis J. Rodriguez

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"Art is the heart's explosion on the world. Music. Dance. Poetry. Art on cars, on walls, on our skins. There is probably no more powerful force for change in this uncertain and crisis-ridden world than young people and their art. It is the consciousness of the world breaking away from the strangle grip of an archaic social order." ~ Louis J. Rodriguez

Quotes in support of Luis J. Rodriguez' work

"Luis Rodriguez dives into the human heart & conveys those small hard-to-describe glimpses of the human spirit in transition & change. He exhumes from the human experiences what we try to forget and offers it to the reader, still breathing & alive & meaningful. His voice is on the verge of the world,
a day break."
-Jimmy Santiago Baca, poet, author of Writing in the Dark

Rodriguez' 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

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

Always Runningis an absolutely unique work, richly literary and poetic, yet urgent and politically explosive at the same time... a permanent testament to human courage and transcendence.
-Jonathan Kozol, author of Amazing Grace

Luis Rodriguez is the poet laureate of the barrio.
-Luis Torres, award-winning radio journalist and broadcaster

Rodriguez never lets us forget where we need to go together.
-The National Catholic Reporter

That Rodriguez' memoir Always Running takes place... before the '92 L.A. riots only makes this beautifully written and politically astute account more compelling. -Entertainment Weekly

Always Running is extraordinarily haunting and evocative. -The Washington Post Book World

In all, Rodriguez' poems, the sense of place is palpable and becomes essentially a fully developed voice in and of itself. -World Literature Today

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

Rodriguez paints poems so reader-friendly, and then, on second and third read, the weight and depth and message of the words sinks in. -New City, Chicago

Always Running stands out as one of the most significant coming-of-age
stories of our time. -El Paso Times

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Statement by Luis J. Rodriguez for Erik Shager's
Class Graduates at University of Wisconsin, Madison

I never made it through college. In fact, the first time I wore a cap and gown on stage I was 40 years old. A Chicago community college invited me to do their commencement talk one year. Everyone, including the speakers, had caps and gowns. And it seemed odd. Yet, in some way, it was right.
I didn't go through college, but through my work, writing, talks, and commitments, I've gained an intellectual, literary, and revolutionary life. What some people call conscious life activity. Still, I honor those who have continued their education and passed the milestones.

Today, I read all the time -tons of books, magazines and papers. I'm always ready to learn new things. Yet here's something to take into account: I've met people who have graduated from college, gone to law school even, and after they're through will never again pick up a book. Something about university and college programming -especially if the goal is to only make money, to become "productive" -takes away the spirit of learning. This is not true for all higher education institutions and, of course, for most graduates. But I thought it would be something important to think about as you graduate and move on into the world, into your life.

Whatever you've obtained from your hard work and achievements in school, make sure you always maintain a curious and healthy mind, an active and thinking orientation, a learning and growing personal culture. Institutions can't really take that away from you. But it can happen. And it will take full awareness of yourself, your community, world, and its processes to stay on track with your personal and social development. Of course, we all have to make money. But remember it's better to work and create when you have passion and determination -when you really care. This means drawing on your innate gifts, stories, purposes, and dreams. I've achieved much in my life; I'm almost 50 years old. I've made many more mistakes. But this is the rhythm of growth. Many mistakes, but vital and enduring achievements. I wish you all the best in your endeavors -dream big, live deliberately, and don't worry about perfection as much as fulfillment.

Respectfully, Luis J. Rodriguez – May 21, 2002

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