Magnanimous, calamitous Los Angeles—finding the city’s lyrical rhythm in honor of National Poetry Month …
We might all think we’re poets after three IPAs and a tequila chaser, but when people ask Mike Sonksen about his occupation, he actually gets to say he’s a poet. Before you question the legitimacy of a profession in poetry, might we remind you that poetry may actually predate literacy on this planet?
Mike stumbled into the Los Angeles poetry community as a teen, and by his mid-20s, he was dishing out lyrical discourse several nights per week. Over a decade later Mike the PoeT performs over a hundred readings each year, all the while leading his own ballad-driven tours of the city. The most recent incarnation of said tours is Urban Hike, for which he partnered with the A+D Architecture and Design Museum, Craft & Folk Art Museum and Red Line Tours to highlight LA’s local culture, history and architecture through verse. He also writes a column for KCET, L.A. Love Letters and teaches creative writing at St. Bernard High School in Playa Del Rey.
However, he’s not a lone odist. Even in LA—a town fixated on being seen (from movies to appearance)—if you close your eyes and listen, there’s a vast underworld of spoken word that pulsates and prospers in our bookstores, museums, theaters and schools.
Not only is the city’s poetry-scape rich, but also multicultural too. “The scene may be the most diverse artistic milieu in Southern California. From spoken word, to traditional, to academic, to avant-garde, to LGBT, and then there’s the Black Arts scene, the Chicano, the Asian American,” Mike explains.
With April’s National Poetry Month upon us, where to tune into that rhapsodic rhyme scene? We asked our local bard to take us down the rabbit hole of the best spoken word spots in Los Angeles…
Mike the PoeT’s LA Poets Picks
MS: There are so many great poets in LA. Some of my favorites, in no particular order:
Luis J. Rodriguez