When you think of the most “literary” places in Los Angeles and/or Orange County, what streets or neighborhoods come to mind? We put that question to several Southern California writers, along with these follow-up questions: What places in the city have most inspired you? Where do you encounter other writers, to share ideas or just socialize? Where do you like to hang out with your writer friends or just get work done? Here are their answers about how the place they live shapes their work.
Despite having a population of approximately 500,000, the Northeast San Fernando Valley used to not have any bookstores or art galleries. That is until 2001, when L.A. Poet Laureate Luis J. Rodriguez opened the doors of this café/bookshop combo in Sylmar. Tia Chucha's filled the void in this majority Hispanic community with titles by, about, and for Latinos and Chicanos, including bilingual children’s books and Indigenous histories. The store has spawned a social justice book club and is behind the annual outdoor literacy festival, Celebrating Words. They pair with the offshoot cultural center next door to offer low-cost/free bilingual arts and literacy programming like mural painting and Mexica (Aztec) dance classes, writing workshops, screenings, and open mic nights.
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