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Announcing “Under One Sky” Keynote, Luis J. Rodriguez

Luis J. Rodriguez, Award-winning Poet, Activist and Los Angeles Poet Laureate

Luis Rodriguez is convinced that a writer can change the world. Indeed it is through education and the power of words that Rodriguez saw his own way out of poverty and despair in the barrio of East LA and successfully broke free from the years of violence and desperation he spent as an active gang member. Achieving success as an award-winning Chicano poet, he was sure the streets would haunt him no more — until his young son joined a gang himself. Rodriguez fought for his child by telling his own story in the bestseller Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A., a vivid memoir that explores the motivation of gang life and cautions against the death and destruction that inevitably claim its participants. Always Running earned a Carl Sandburg Literary Award and was designated a New York Times Notable Book; it has also been named by the American Library Associa­tion as one of the nation’s 100 most censored books.

Rodriguez’s most recent book is the sequel to Always Running, entitled It Calls You Back: An Odyssey of Love, Addiction, Revolutions, and Healing.

Rodriguez is also known for helping start a number of prominent organizations — such as Chicago’s Guild Complex, one of the largest literary arts organizations in the Midwest; Rock a Mole (rhymes with guacamole) Productions which produces music and art festivals, CDs and film; and Youth Strug­gling for Survival, a Chicago-based non-profit community group working with gang and non-gang youth.

In addition, he is one of the founders of the small poetry publishing house Tia Chucha Press, as well as Tia Chucha’s Café & Centro Cultural—a bookstore, coffee shop, art gallery, performance space, and workshop center in the San Fernando Valley section of Los Angeles.

Luis J. Rodriguez’s honors include a Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Writers’ Award, a Lannan     Fellowship for Poetry, an Hispanic Heritage Award for Literature, a California Arts Council fellowship and several Illinois Arts Coun­cil fellowships. He was one of 50 leaders worldwide selected as “Unsung Heroes of Compassion,” presented by the Dalai Lama. In 2014 Rodriguez was appointed Los Angeles Poet Laureate.

Luis J. Rodriguez conducts workshops, readings, and talks in prisons, juvenile detention facilities, universities, migrant camps, Native American reservations, conferences, public and private schools, and homeless shelters. He addresses the complex but vital issues of race, class, gender, and personal rage through dialogue, story, poetry, and art.

This year’s theme is Hearts and Hands: Creating Community in Violent Times. To register for and get more information about the 2017 Annual Interfaith Intercultural Breakfast click here.

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