PROFILE OF A MODERN-DAY POET IN L.A.: MIKE THE POET

by ASTRID
From: L.A. Taco

IMG_9023“Los Angeles is not Baywatch or the Beach Boys, it is getting carne asada tacos from a taco truck and bacon wrapped hot dogs at two in the morning.”

These are the words of Mike Sonksen, a poet, historian, activist, teacher, husband, and father better known as Mike the Poet. The nickname was given to Mike at the age of 23, by a friend who noticed he always carried a notebook. “You know Mike, you’re not Mike Sonksen, you’re Mike the Poet.”

He was born in Long Beach and raised in Cerritos by his mother, Pamela Hays. She wrote in journals since she was nine years old and encouraged him to follow in the same footsteps.

It was not until the Los Angeles Riots in 1992 when Mike was inspired to write poems on a consistent basis. “The 80s were about Dynasty, status, hair metal, and cocaine. My scene was about celebrating community.”

In 1997, Mike earned his Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Sociology from UCLA. During his college experience, Mike and his friends would explore the city of Los Angeles. Mike’s adventures guided him towards performing poems at open mic events until he couldn’t stop. These venues were located in Echo Park, Venice Beach, Highland Park, Downtown Los Angeles, Koreatown, and South Central.

Aside from driving with friends, Mike also recollects many memories of driving with his grandfather, Frank Sibley. Mike’s grandfather shared a variety of stories with him about Los Angeles during the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. These stories are described by Mike as his biggest inspiration to properly represent the city’s history through poetry and journalism since it has been greatly misrepresented by the media.

In addition, Mike’s grandfather influenced him to become friends with everybody. He taught Mike that he should always be a cool and positive person wherever he goes. This helped Mike develop the ability to connect and empathize with people, which later contributed to his regular participation in protests and activism. Read Rest of Article Here

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