Mr. Luis Rodriguez is convinced that a writer can change the world. Through education and the power of words, Mr. Rodriguez saw his own way out of poverty and despair in the barrio of East Los Angeles and successfully broke free from the years 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. 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.
Mr. 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 Productions, which produces music and art festivals, CDs, and film; and Youth Struggling for Survival, a Chicago-based nonprofit community group working with gang and nongang youth. In addition, he is one of the founders of the small poetry publishing house Tia Chucha Press, as well as Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural & Bookstore—a bookstore, coffee shop, art gallery, performance space, and workshop center in Los Angeles.