Meet Visiting Writer Mike Sonksen!
Mike Sonksen aka Mike the PoeT is a 3rd-generation Los Angeles native. His prose and poetry have been published on banners on Santa Monica and Venice Boulevards and included in programs with the Mayor’s Office, the Los Angeles Public Library’s “Made in LA,” series, Grand Park, the Music Center, the Friends of the Los Angeles River and Glendale Central Library. On three separate occasions, the City of Los Angeles has awarded Sonksen “Certificates of Commendation” for his poetic contributions to the city. Sonksen teaches at Woodbury University.
A Micro-Interview with Mike Sonksen
When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
I first knew I wanted to be a writer my freshmen year of UCLA when I was
18 in the Fall of 1992.
18 in the Fall of 1992.
Who are your writer/teacher influences?
My influences are almost too many to name, but I started with Movements like the Harlem Renaissance, the Beat Generation, Black Arts Movement and Bukowski. Then I read Mike Davis, Wanda Coleman, Jack Kerouac, Langston Hughes, Joan Didion, James Baldwin, early 1990s Hip Hop like A Tribe Called Quest, Allen Ginsberg, Rebecca Solnit, Luis Rodriguez, early 1980s KROQ, Jonathan Gold, Nelson Algren, Lauri Ramey. My influences are also history and geography. I love maps, getting lost on purpose and visiting new places.
What do you think the role of the writer is or should be in today's society?
The role of the writer is to awaken, inspire, inform, entertain, interject, interrupt, energize and enliven society at large.
What are your suggestions for beginners who want to become writers?
I suggest all young writers read as much as possible. Find a few role models and mentors to inspire you. In addition to journal writing as often as you can. It's a long game, so the homework is really important if you want to keep going.
If you could meet and chill out with 1 writer, living or dead, who would that be and why?
I would have loved to hang out with late writer Nelson Algren. He wrote about the underworld of Chicago. His short stories and poetry have a true to life quality and I love his blunt descriptions. His book, Chicago: City on the Make, was banned in the Windy City, even though it was really a love letter. The city boosters thought it was too raw, but Algren was just telling the truth. I am sure hanging out with him was hilarious and genuine.