Los Angeles is a city filled with wordsmiths. But only one of them holds the title of poet laureate: Luis J. Rodriguez.
"I felt humbled, I also felt very responsible," says Rodriguez, upon getting the news of his appointment from Mayor Eric Garcetti in September. "I knew now my voice would have to be connected to the communities that I'm from."
Rodriguez is the author of numerous books, including the memoir "Always Running, La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A." His most recent book is "It Calls You Back: An Odyssey Through Love, Addiction, Revolutions, and Healing."
Rodriguez will lead a series of public workshops and events on poetry in the city in his new role. He'll also have an office at L.A.'s downtown central library, a site that was crucial to his own transformation as a young man when he discovered his love of books, he says.
Today, he describes his mission as "helping poetry come alive in the city, connecting it with people who may not know about poetry, who may not know about its importance, especially in uncertain and crisis-filled times."
In honor of his appointment, he crafted a new piece, called "Love Poem to Los Angeles." He read the entire poem in Take Two's studios and you can click on the left to hear it. Here's an excerpt:
To truly love L.A. you have to see it
with different eyes,
beyond the fantasy-induced Hollywood spectacles.
"El Lay" is also known
for the most violent street gangs,
the largest Skid Row,
the greatest number of poor.
Yet I loved L.A...