About Luis J. Rodriguez



Welcome to the website of Luis J. Rodriguez. From 2014-2016, Luis served as the official Poet Laureate of Los Angeles. For Luis poetry is soul talk, a prophetic act, a powerful means to enlarge one's presence in the world.

Luis is also a novelist/memoirist/short story writer/children's book writer/essayist as well as a community & urban peace activist, mentor, healer, youth & arts advocate, husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. 

He has 16 books in all genres (poetry, children's books, fiction, and nonfiction), including the best-selling memoir, "Always Running, La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A." His latest memoir is the sequel, "It Calls You Back: An Odyssey Through Love, Addiction, Revolutions, and Healing." His last poetry book is 2016's "Borrowed Bones" from Curbstone Books/Northwestern University Press. In 2020, Seven Stories Press released his first book of essays, "From Our Land to Our Land: Essays, Journeys & Imaginings from a Native Xicanx Writer."

Among his many awards and fellowships, in 2022 Luis was given a California Arts Council Legacy Fellowship and a Los Angeles Times' Robert Kirsch Lifetime Achievement Award.

Luis is founding editor of Tia Chucha Press, now for over 30 years, and more than 20 years ago he co-founded with his wife Trini Tia Chucha's Centro Cultural & Bookstore in the San Fernando Valley. He has traveled across the United States, Canada, Mexico, Central America, South America, Europe, and Japan to speak, do poetry readings, indigenous ceremonies, or reportage over the past 40 years. This includes prisons, jails, and juvenile lockups in around 20 U.S. states, as well as Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Argentina, Italy, and England. Dedicated to his indigenous roots and Native American spirituality, Luis has a Mexika name: Mixcoatl Itztlacuiloh. With his wife Trini (Tlazohteotl) he has a podcast called "The Hummingbird Cricket Hour"--http://hchpodcast.libsyn.com/

Luis is dedicated to a clean, balanced, abundant, cooperative, healing world. No more capitalist private property relations, exploitation, war, or inequities. "In essential things, unity; in nonessential things, liberty. In all things compassion."

From August 31 to November 24, 2019, Casa 0101 Theater in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles, co-sponsored by Tia Chucha's Centro Cultural, staged the play "Always Running" based on Luis' best-selling memoir of the same name. Seats were sold out every weekend. Co-adapted by Luis J. Rodriguez and Hector Rodriguez, directed by Hector Rodriguez, the play explored the dramatic tension between a youth worker trying to mentor a highly troubled gang member from violence, drugs, and jails to become an artist, writer, and social justice activist. Set in the late 60s and 70s during the height of the Chicano Movement in the East Los Angeles area. The play is now available for licensing.

Luis is also founding director of Barking Rooster Entertainment, producing content for the Internet, TV, film, and books. His partners include his oldest son Ramiro and Trini.

In late 2021, Luis embarked on a campaign for California governor as "Imagine a New California for Shared Well-Being... Then Let's Build it." He was initially endorsed by the Green, Peace & Freedom, and Justice parties. In the primary election that ended June 7, 2022, Luis garnered 124,672 votes, coming in 7th out of 26 candidates. Luis ran for public office when he was 22 as a Los Angeles school board candidate, then in 2012 as US vice president with Rocky Anderson for president for the US Justice Party. In 2014, he ran for California governor endorsed by the Green Party, Justice Party, Mexican American Political Association, El Hormiguero, Corazon Del Pueblo, and other organizations.

"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, November 15, 2007


"I have long admired this poet, healer, teacher, justice worker."

--Joy Harjo, U.S. Poet Laureate


"Luis Rodriguez is a poet prophet for our times."

--Sandra Cisneros, author "House on Mango Street" and "A House of My Own: Stories from My Life"