Episode #6 Los Angeles History in Verse with Mike the PoeT

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I'm stoked because today I got to interview my old friend Mike Sonksen - well known to the world as Mike the PoeT. Mike is a third-generation Angeleno (a rarity in Los Angeles) and is dedicated - through his work as a historian, teacher, writer, and performer - to connecting the many dots that are LA. Mike has published two collections featuring his poetry and extended essays on geography and urban culture: I Am Alive in Los Angeles and most recently, Poetics of Location.  Being an Angeleno myself (sort of...I've been here since 1976) it was great to parse through some of these themes with an expert on the city. We discuss

  • How the disciplines of English and History overlap with the arts

  • The inspiration behind one of Mike's most well-known poems, I am Alive in Los Angeles

  • Significant changes in the urban landscape sine the 1920s

  • Racial, ethnic, and economic displacements and migrations within the city

  • The gulf between extreme wealth and abject poverty and the unique features of economic disparity in Los Angeles

  • Downtown LA and Hollywood "revitalization" movements

Mike has great advice for aspiring young writers and we talk about one of our favorite movies, Blade Runner. Of course, he had plenty of excellent books on his must read list, including: City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles by Mike Davis, anything by Carey McWilliams (Southern California: An Island on the Land is a good place to start here), and Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in LA by Luis J. Rodriguez. If you want to learn more about Mike the PoeT, tour the city, or attend a reading, you can find him HERE.

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Music by Advent Chamber Orchestra is licensed under Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/us/