Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Luis J. Rodriguez  

Pen Name: None


Audience: Adult; Young Adult; Children;

Born: July 9, 1954 in El Paso, Texas

-- Website --
-- Luis J. Rodriguez on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Rodriguez moved to Chicago in 1985 and lived there until 2000.

Biographical and Professional Information

Luis Rodriguez is a poet, lecturer, and journalist. He has published articles, reviews and poetry in numerous journals and newspapers. His work has won several awards, and he is recognized as a major figure of contemporary Chicano literature. His best-known work, ''Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A.'', is the recipient of the Carl Sandburg Literary Award, among others, and has been the subject of controversy when included on reading lists in California, Illinois, Michigan, and Texas schools due to its frank depictions of gang life. Rodriguez has also founded or co-founded numerous organizations, including the Tía Chucha Press, which publishes the work of unknown writers, Tía Chucha's Centro Cultural, a San Fernando Valley cultural center, and the Chicago-based Youth Struggling for Survival, an organization for at-risk youth.

Published Works

  • Poems Across the Pavement, Tia Chucha Press, 1989
  • The Concrete River, Curbstone Press, 1991
  • Always Running, La Vida Loca--Gang Days in L.A., Curbstone Press, 1998
  • America Is Her Name (for Children), Curbstone Press, 1998
  • Trochemoche, New Poems, Curbstone Press, 1998
  • It Doesn`t Have to Be This Way, A Barrio Story (for Children), Children`s Press, 1999
  • The Republic of East L.A., Stories, Rayo/Harper Collins, 2002
  • Hearts and Hands: Creating Community in Violent Times, Seven Stories Press, 2003
  • Music of the Mill: A Novel, Rayo/Harper Collins, 2004
  • My Nature is Hunger: New & Selected Poems, Curbstone Press/ Rattle Edition, 2005

Selected Titles At Your Library

Poems across the pavement /
ISBN: 0962428701. OCLC Number:

Tía Chucha Press,. Chicago :. ©1989.

The concrete river /
ISBN: 0915306425. OCLC Number:

Curbstone Press ;. Willimantic, CT :. 1991.

Presents a collection of poems with such themes as homelessness, unemployment, and the struggle of the working class.

Always running :
ISBN: 0743276914. OCLC Number:

. .

A former L.A. gang member describes his experiences in that world, recounting the sense of security and power found in a gang and the grim reality of violence and poverty. By age twelve, the author was a veteran of East L.A. gang warfare. Lured by a seemingly invincible gang culture, he witnessed countless shootings, beatings, and arrests, then watched with increasing fear as drugs, murder, suicide, and senseless acts of street crime claimed friends and family members. Before long he saw a way out of the barrio through education and the power of words, and successfully broke free from years of violence and desperation. 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. He fought for his child by telling his own story in this memoir that explores the motivations of gang life and cautions against the death and destruction that inevitably claim its participants. At times heartbreakingly sad and brutal, it is ultimately an uplifting true story, filled with hope, insight, and a hard-earned lesson for the next generation.

América is her name /
ISBN: 1880684403. OCLC Number:

Curbstone Press,. Willimantic, CT :. ©1998.

A Mixteca Indian from Oaxaca, América Soliz, suffers from the poverty and hopelessness of her Chicago ghetto, made more endurable by a desire and determination to be a poet.

It doesn't have to be this way :
ISBN: 0892392037. OCLC Number:

Children's Book Press,. San Francisco, Calif. :. ©1999.

Reluctantly a young boy becomes more and more involved in the activities of a local gang, until a tragic event involving his cousin forces him to make a choice about the course of his life.

Music of the mill :
ISBN: 0060560770. OCLC Number:

Rayo,. New York, NY :. 2006, ©2005.

"As the World War II cultural and industrial boom birthed a new California, a mighty steel industry rose with the potential to make modest dreams real for the workers willing to risk their lives in the mill's ferocious heat. For the Salcidos, the Nazareth mill became an engine for survival"--Page 4 of cover.

My nature is hunger :
ISBN: 1931896240. OCLC Number:

Curbstone Press/Rattle Edition,. Willimantic, CT :. 2005.

"My Nature Is Hunger is the first poetry collection in five years by the major award-winning Latino author, Luis Rodriguez. It includes selections from his previous books, Poems Across the Pavement, The Concrete River, and Trochemoche, and 26 new poems that reflect his increasingly global view, his hard-won spirituality, and his movement toward reconciliation with his family and his past."--Jacket.


Always Running, La Vida Loca, The Gang Days in L.A.

  • Carl Sandburg Literary Award, 1993
  • Chicago Sun Times Book Award, 1993

    Other Awards

    Speaking Engagements

    Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)

    , contact Susan Bergholz Literary Services 17 West 10th Street #5 New York, New York 10011