The Big Read Program in Los Angeles
The Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) designed to restore reading to the center of American popular culture. The NEA presents The Big Read in partnership with Arts Midwest. Generous support is also provided by Sony Pictures Entertainment. The Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) and the NEA hope to unite communities through literature and intra-cultural connections, as well as to inspire teens to become life-long readers with the 2017 Big Read Program in Los Angeles.
DCA has been awarded Big Read grants from the NEA since the inception of the program in 2007/08. 2017 will mark DCA’s ninth year of programming its Big Read Program in Los Angeles with a selection of poetry by Emily Dickinson. The Big Read will serve as an entry point for dialogue, creative programming, and cultivating new and long-standing alliances between community organizations and the arts across Los Angeles.
The Big Read Program in Los Angeles consists of community reading groups from October 2016 to May 2017, and related public activities and events from September 2016 to June 2017, and is presented by DCA in conjunction with partner community and cultural organizations that include some of DCA’s Neighborhood Arts and Cultural Centers (Canoga Park Youth Arts Center; Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, Barnsdall Park; Sun Valley Youth Arts Center; Vision Theatre; Warner Grand Theatre; Watts Towers Arts Center; and William Grant Still Arts Center), the Anne Douglas Center for Women- the Los Angeles Mission, the Culinary Historians of Southern California, El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, the Museum of the San Fernando Valley, Libros Schmibros Lending Library, the Los Angeles Public Library, the Los Angeles Unified School District, KAOS Network, Leimert Park Village Book Fair, The Music Center, Self Help Graphics & Art, Downtown’s Grand Park, the LA Harbor International Film Festival, CalArts Community Arts Partnership, the Los Angeles Poet Laureate, GR818ers, and many more. Participating artists, poets, and historians include: Ben Caldwell, Linda Civitello, Rachel Curry, traci kato-kiriyama, Beth Peterson, Nathalie Sanchez, Joseph Saenz, Mike “The PoeT” Sonksen, and more.
A civic ceremony at the historical Los Angeles City Hall is held annually at the end of March to proclaim the month of April, 2017 as Literature and Poetry Month Celebrating the Department of Cultural Affairs’ Big Read Program in Los Angeles. The public is invited to participate in the many free activities offered by the program partners, such as walking tours, lectures, panel discussions, film screenings, cooking demonstrations, music concerts, animation courses, live readings, poetry recitals, writing workshops, and museum tours.
Los Angeles Poet Laureate Luis Rodriguez 2014-2016
Luis Rodriguez was chosen to be Los Angeles’ Poet Laureate by Mayor Eric Garcetti in 2014. His poetry book, My Nature is Hunger, won the 2005 Paterson Book Award. His 1993 memoir Always Running, La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A., with close to half a million copies sold, became one of L.A.’s most checked out in libraries—and one of the most stolen. He has a dozen other books in poetry, children’s literature, fiction, and nonfiction. He is also founding editor of the small press, Tia Chucha Press, now in its 25th year, and co-founder of Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural and Bookstore in the San Fernando Valley. His latest book is
It Calls You Back: An Odyssey Through Love, Addiction, Revolutions, and Healing, a finalist for the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award.