Photo by AzuL
- Can you give us a brief Bio of yourself.
Mike Sonksen, also known as, Mike the Poet, is widely acclaimed for his live performances, contributions to international publications & legendary city tours. Poet, journalist, historian, tour guide, teacher, he's published in the L.A. Citybeat, O.C. Weekly, New Angeles, L.A. Weekly & many others. This 3rd generation L.A. native graduated from U.C.L.A. in 1997. His book I AM ALIVE IN LOS ANGELES! has been added to the curriculum of several universities & received rave reviews. Mike's performed his poetry coast to coast at college campuses, museums, bookstores, nightclubs & just about any venue you can imagine. His Los Angeles city tours combine poetry and history and have been written up in the New York Times, THE UK Guardian, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, L.A. Weekly, L.A. Citybeat & many others. Mike started tour guiding in 1997 working most extensively with Red Line Tours, the Museum of Neon Art & the Museum of Architecture & Design.
- At what point in life when you decided that this is ( Poetry) your calling?
At age 19 I found myself writing nonstop. It slowly took over my life. By the time I was in my early twenties I began publishing & performing.
- What is your take on the current spoken word scene ?
You can perform poetry 7 nights a week. The scene is great.. I have been in & out of it for so many years. I love the venues & all the poets. When the time is open it's a lot of fun to run around town & perform. Since my daughter has been born I am only doing specific gigs;
but overall I love the many bookstores, bars, coffeehouses, art galleries & other random spots that open up their doors for poetry.
- What do you consider your proud accomplishment as far in life?
Beyond my own accomplishments, I am most proud of the hundreds of students & young writers I have taught & mentored over the last decade. I have given many young writers their first publishing experience. Several of my students have won writing awards with the City of Los Angeles as well as featured in venues like the Museum of Contemporary Art. I teach poetry & journalism in South Los Angeles @ View Park Charter High School. These kids write like nobody's business.
- Congrat on your new born,. how is that effecting you in life, and how are you managing it ?
Thanks! I am enjoying being a papa! It does indeed change one's thinking. I am thinking more long term & more focused than ever. Time is more precious! That's part of why it took me a minute to finish these questions. Some nights I get home & have some computer ish to do & instead I play with my daughter. Last year I was up late writing. Now I have to make more time to finish all the little things. All is blessed & I am happy being a dad. I am still writing a lot but now it is more like when my wife & daughter are asleep or something like that. Otherwise I have been having a blast hanging with my wife & daughter.
- what your take on our current economy ?
My take on the economy?! Hmmm.... Well, well, well. I do know several folks that have been looking for work & having difficulties. It is hectic. The corporate structure seems to be evolving but firmly in control. Mom & Pops businesses have their work cut out for them. Its hard to compete with the big boys. Monopoly capitalism continues. Its good for a few & real tough for a whole lot of other folks. A Century ago was known as the Gilded Age. The robber barons were running things. Not too much has changed.
- Who inspire you in life ?
I am inspired by many, many people. Those that are dedicated and deliver on their word. I have many favorite authors, musicians, artists that I refer to frequently whenever I need inspiration. Many of my biggest influences are from the following movements: the Beat Generation, Black Arts Movement, golden era of Hip Hop, Harlem Renaissance, Imagists Movement. Writers like Mike Davis, Malcolm Gladwell, Nelson Algren, William Carlos Williams, Urban Planners, Architects & other progressive thinkers.
- Tell us about the Round Table ?
Poets of the Round Table began with my man Phillip Martin & me. PhiLL is now known as the poetpainter PhiLLHarmoniC. We met in 1992 as freshmen at UCLA. We were both poets and always creative. By 1998 we had a bunch of friends that were DJ's, musicians, artists & other eclectic folks. We met the poet Besskepp in in 2000 and the Poets of the Round Table began growing. We've had a lot of great poets, DJ's & singer-songwriters rock with us over the last decade. Figures like Blackbird, Mear One, Busstop Prophet, Ordell Cordova, Ratpack Slim, Stricke-9, Hollywood 7, DJ Jeremy Sole, Sarah Cruse, Megan Jacobs, AK Toney, DJ Dave, Black Spinach. Its always fun to rock with the Poets of the Round Table. We've always been about the art & having a good time.
- How did you come up with the idea for your Critical Acclaim " I am alive in Los Angeles " book ?
I have always loved Los Angeles history. I have studied it both academically & in the underground. My book was born over a decade ago. I wrote poems about every neighborhood & before I knew it I had covered a lot of the city. My life's work is dedicated to telling the real story about Los Angeles. I've been working on this project since the late Nineties.The version I published in 2006 is being updated & I am finishing my next book as well.
Mike the Poet's Book " I AM ALIVE IN LOS ANGELES!! is available for purchase @ Amazon.com
- You did a collab with praCh on his latest D3 album, now how did that come about, what is your piece about and why ?
My piece is called Corruption. praCh is my man. We met in 2003 & both grew up in Long Beach. Collabing with praCh happened organically. I listened to his album and felt the words. I appreciate the way he tells the uncut truth. I wrote some of his lines down and felt his themes. He asked me to write about Corruption. The beat he gave me has ominous drums that run in line with Corruption. Thinking about world politics & the economy made it easy to write about Corruption. I had a great time recording the poem. Blackbird & Mear One love the part where I say," The casting couch, something in your mouth!" praCh's words triggered the response.
The world is full of corruption wherever you go. Its a universal theme. A sad part of the human condition. By talking about it though we can make it better. Thats why the poem says, To tell the truth can't erase the past but it can stop it from happening again.
- Where do you see yourself or want to see your self at 10 years from now?
I will be writing, teaching, speaking & hanging tight with my wife & daughter. Travelling the world on book tours. Releasing more recordings of my poems. Publishing, performing, planting seeds in the local community. A more developed version of what I am already doing but on a larger scale.
- What is your movement and why should we support you?
My movement is to inspire, uplift & educate. Also to inform the people about the hidden history that is often forgotten. Much like praCh & how he tells the story of his ancestors. There are powerful stories that need to be told & they often get forgotten or never told. My work in telling the forgotten history of Los Angeles is meant to show the true history of the city. Generations of poets, generations of musicians. Outsiders get the story wrong painting a phony picture. I'm here to set the record straight. Here to celebrate my city & still call out the fake. Not here to hate, here to celebrate the soul of Los Angeles. The new beautiful. We are the movement. If we don't tell our story no one will. My movement is about making the city a better a place. Micro to macro activity. If we all start by making our own community a better place than we will slowly start to make the world a better place. It starts in our own backyard so that's why I believe in improving my local community first. Then inch by inch if we make our local area better it will start to spread around the world. I hope to raise people's consciousness about the city and from this point they can contribute to making things better with their own efforts. We are in this together. I am just one man. Still I believe that if we all fulfill our responsiblity the energy spreads. You should support my movement because it's our movement. We are in this together. Only if we work together will things get better. I am committed to doing my part and helping to spread consciousness.
- 7 words to best describe yourself?
Earnest, compassionate, geographic, poetic, expressive, patient, peaceful
- 7 thing you would put in your time capsule?
Journals, maps, records, Books, photos, paintings, poems.
- Any last words ?
Back to the people!
We are the face of the New BeautifuL!
Speak to the souL,
Also here is my YOUTUBE page...
LA Times article on me...
( www.mujestic.com/mikethepoet ) copyrighted 02/26/10
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