For the longest time, when folx asked me the compulsory question, “Where are you from?” my response would be, “I live in L.A. but I am from N.Y.C.” Eighteen years later, I can proudly no longer say that. I moved to Los Angeles in 2003, but it wasn’t my first time here. I had visited it a few times since 1999 to see future in-laws and in 2001 I worked an entire summer at LMU. Each time I did the typical tourist stuff and ate my way through the “Top 10 Foods” I read about. Even with all of these visits and my eventual cross-country move, I still didn’t call Los Angeles home. New York City. The Bronx. Puerto Rico. Those places were crowned HOME. Although I was reluctant to call Los Angeles home out of fear of sounding like a fraudulent transplant, she was there when I needed her the most. It was here in L.A. that I found my literary community who continue to nourish my soul in ways I can’t ever repay. It was here where my poetry found a home. It was here where I gave birth and raised my three revolutionaries. Most importantly, it was here where I discovered my resilience. Los Angeles embraced me before I embraced her, and my poem “Here in L.A.” is my overdue love-thank you letter to her.
Luivette Resto, a mother, teacher, poet and Wonder Woman fanatic, was born in Aguas Buenas, Puerto Rico and proudly raised in The Bronx in New York City. Her two books of poetry Unfinished Portrait and Ascension have been published by Tía Chucha Press. Some of her latest work can be found on the University of Arizona’s Poetry Center website, Bozalta, and in the anthology titled What Saves Us: Poems of Empathy and Outrage in the Age of Trump edited by Martín Espada. Her third collection is forthcoming from FlowerSong Press. She lives in the San Gabriel Valley with her three children, aka her revolutionaries.
Artist Q & A
What does "For the Love of L.A." mean to you?
Love is an action. It is a choice we make on a daily basis and Los Angeles has loved me for 18 years. It chooses to love me and it continues to illustrate that love. It means reciprocating the love Los Angeles and its people have given me these 18 years. I was homesick for quite some time, but slowly this city showed me how loving and welcoming it is. It opened its arms to me. It taught me histories that were omitted from my East Coast curriculums.
How do you think the work you've created reflects the time we're in?
L.A. has not only become my second home, it has become the place of my rebirth. It was here that I faced one of the most challenging events in my life. I was challenged to find my path and I did. It was here where my literary community thrives and uplifts me, daily. It was here where I created my family. L.A. is my children's home. Therefore, it is mine. I claim L.A. just as I claim N.Y.C. and Puerto Rico. This work is very personal to my journey as a once transplant, mother, writer, friend.
What do you think the future looks like? And how do you see the arts contributing to it?
Historically, the arts have consistently played an important role in dissidence and resistance, and our futures like our present will need the arts to sustain us. Nourish our souls. Fuel our resistance.
What places in Los Angeles most inspire you?
Avenue 50 Studio, Tia Chucha's, all of their libraries, mercados, taquerias, bars, essentially anywhere my community reads, writes and thrives.
Do you have any future projects that you'd like to share with us?
My third poetry collection, Living on Islands Not Found on Maps, is forthcoming from FlowerSong Press. It should be out by 2022.
What other projects do you have in the works right now?
Currently, I am working on a collection of Wu-Tang Clan poems based upon their Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) album.