Legends (Luis J. Rodriguez)

This week I highlight the career of Luis J. Rodriguez, in a nutshell Always Running should be in the class of every middle school and the home of every male teen, read on

Running Things

Luis J. Rodriguez has emerged as one of the leading Chicano writers in the country with ten nationally published books in memoir, fiction, nonfiction, children’s literature, and poetry. Luis’ poetry has won a Poetry Center Book Award, a PEN Josephine Miles Literary Award, and “Foreword” magazine’s Silver Book Award, among others. His two children’s books have won a Patterson Young Adult Book Award, two “Skipping Stones” Honor Award, and a Parent’s Choice Book Award, among others. A novel, Music of the Mill, was published in the spring of 2005 by Rayo/HarperCollins; a poetry collection, My Nature is Hunger: New & Selected Poems, 1989-2004, came out in the fall of 2005 from Curbstone Press/Rattle Edition.

Luis is best known for the 1993 memoir of gang life, Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A. An international best seller—with more than 20 printings, around 250,000 copies sold—the memoir also garnered a Carl Sandburg Literary Award, a Chicago Sun-Times Book Award, and was designated a New York Times Notable Book. Written as a cautionary tale for Luis’ then 15-year-old son Ramiro—who had joined a Chicago gang—the memoir is popular among youth and teachers. Despite this, the American Library Association in 1999 called Always Running one of the 100 most censored books in the United States. Efforts to remove his books from public school libraries and reading lists have occurred in Illinois, Michigan, Texas, and more recently in California, where the battles were quite heated. Yet for all the controversy, Luis has gained the respect of the literary community. check out his interview below

Books/Recordings Published

Poems Across the Pavement (1989 Tia Chucha Press, Chicago); The Concrete River (1991 Curbstone Press, Willimantic, CT); Trochemoche (1998 Curbstone Press); My Name’s Not Rodriguez, a CD of original music and poems (2002 Dos Manos/Rock A Mole Music); numbered hand-made art books Seven and Two Women/Dos Mujeres (2005 C&C Press); My Nature is Hunger: New & Selected Poems 1989-2004 (2005 Curbstone Press/Rattle Edition).

Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A. (1993 Curbstone Press; 1994 paperback Touchstone Books/Simon & Schuster; new 10-year edition, 2005 Touchstone Books); Hearts and Hands: Creating Community in Violent Times (2001 Seven Stories Press)

Children’s Books
Children’s Books: America is Her Name (1998 Curbstone Press); It Doesn’t Have to be This Way: A Barrio Story (1999 Children’s Book Press); Si, Se Puede! Yes, We Can! (Essay and Poem) (2002 Cinco Puntos Press)

Fiction: The Republic of East LA: Stories (2002 Rayo/HarperCollins); Music of the Mill (Novel, 2005 Rayo/HarperCollins)


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