Poet laureate to speak on campus Tuesday for Hispanic/Latino Heritage Month


Daily Egyptian file photo

By Francois Gatimu

Former street gang member and community peace activist Luis J. Rodriguez will speak on campus Tuesday about his experiences creating community in troubled times and healing through art.

The lecture, which is co-sponsored by the Hispanic/Latino Resource Center and the University Honors Program, will take place at 7 p.m. in Student Center Ballroom D.

It commemorates Hispanic/Latino Heritage Month and is free and open to the public.


Rodriguez, a former poet laureate of Los Angeles and author of 15 books, has earned various awards for his frank depictions of his gang life, including the Carl Sandburg Literary Award.

Some of his works include his best-selling memoir “Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A.” and its sequel, “It Calls You Back: An Odyssey Through Love, Addiction, Revolutions and Healing.” His most recent poetry book is “Borrowed Bones,” which was published in 2016.

“Luis Rodriguez is hands-down one of the foremost Latino poets and Latino public intellectuals of the last 40 years,” said Rene Poitevin, coordinator for the Hispanic/Latino Resource Center. “It is hard for me to overstate what an amazing opportunity this is to have someone of Rodriguez’s caliber visit SIU.”

Poitevin said his visit will enable Latinos and non-Latinos alike to come together and build community through dialogue.

Rodriguez will also lead a poetry workshop at 11 a.m. on Wednesday in the Guyon Auditorium of Morris Library.

“The timing of Rodriguez’s visit to SIU is perfect,” Poitevin said. “Rodriguez’s visit is a fresh reminder that Latinos have always been part of the American dream and of the social fabric of this country.”

For more information about campus events during Hispanic/Latino Heritage Month,  visit http://smrc.siu.edu/hrc/.


Staff writer Francois Gatimu can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @frankDE28.

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