By Brian Dunlap
Mike Sonsken has been a fixture in the Los Angeles Literary community for two decades. He burst on the scene spitting spoken word verse late into the night, at many venues, events, and open mics, some that no longer exist. During the course of these two decades he’s traveled to Echo Park and Sylmar, Venice and the Eastside, Downtown and Torrance, and everywhere in-between, performing poems laced with the city’s stories and history, hosting open mics and readings, being a tour guide to its streets, teaching students poetry and encouraging them to explore who and what Los Ángeles is.
In the interim, Sonsken self-published his first poetry collection I’m Alive In Los Angeles! in 2006. Then in 2013 he published Slices of Los Angeles, seven poems about L.A. This collection includes one of his most famous poems “L.A. Authors” that begins:
Is it the sunshine or catastrophes,
flash floods or the traffic,
something about Los Angeles
makes music, makes magic…
The Muse of Los Angeles
Makes artists get active.
And in 2016 Sonsken published his grad thesis, Poetics of Location, from L.A. based Writ Large Press, as a chapbook. The collection’s 25 poems and an extended essay and addresses poetry of place, urban history, architecture, social justice and community arts in L.A. and beyond.
In addition, Sonksen has written journalism about Los Ángeles and its literary community for publications such as “L.A. Parent,” KCET, Los Angeles Review of Books and Cultural Weekly.
However, on January 2nd, Big Other published its lists of most anticipated small press books of 2019. As they say in the introduction, “The good news in 2019 will…find amazing books written by amazing writers published by amazing presses, small and indie presses as always working against the odds to transform the literary world.” And one of those amazing books is Letters to My City (Writ Large Press) by Mike Sonsken. As Big Other says about Sonsken’s eagerly anticipated book; “These poems and essays…combine two decades of field experience, research, personal observations, and stories told to the author…by his grandfather and other family members, to interrogate all sides of Los Angeles…as a means to examine the postmodern metropolis.”
Los Angeles Literature only has to wait until February to read Letters to My City. Another L.A. writer finding publishing success.