Rio Hondo Spanish Instructor working with Poetry.LA

Mariano Zaro is a full time Spanish teacher at Rio Hondo with a passion for poetry and the lead interviewer for Poetry.LA’s video series focusing on in-depth interviews of relevant and prominent LA poets.

Zaro first met with Poetry.LA around seven years ago as a poet they were interested in covering.

After time, he had the idea for a project to become closer to poets in Los Angeles and learn about their works deeper than simply reading poems at the library.

“I said ‘what can I do to learn more about [American poets]?’ So instead of taking a more academic approach, you know- going to the library and reading about them, [I said] ‘what if I interviewed them?’”

An interview series within Poetry.LA is Zaro’s work. He originally intended to interview prominent Los Angeles poets and record them in a book.

He has since worked with the website to interview the same subjects to have it archived in a different format.

“What Poetry.LA does is that they produce a platform for the poetry scene in Los Angeles for it to be visible, accessible, and also archived. If you go to the website, they have like 500 poets and you can click and see their work and what they are doing…. If you’re studying a poet, you can listen to them reading their work.”

The website has hundreds of poets in the Los Angeles area ranging from smaller poets to others who are world-renowned.

When asked who Zaro has enjoyed interviewing the most from his three seasons of working to release 30 minute episodes, he states that the late Wanda Coleman really fascinated him.

Zaro stated, “She had a presence, like a theatrical presence. She was like a legend in the poetry world. She had an ‘edge’ …like a surgeon’s knife to open and explain what was going on [in her poetry].”

Poetry.LA interviews eight poets every fall and after editing the often hour long interviews, releases a more manageable thirty minute episode bi-weekly from a studio in Santa Monica.

Zaro’s hand in these episodes is to research the poets’ works and formulate journalistic, often “academic,” questions to ask.

These often boil down to self-reflective queries about where they feel they personally stand in the poetry culture of Los Angeles or what creative movements they feel their work represents.

Los Angeles is not often associated with an electric poetry scene- it’s often overshadowed by the movie industry or its immense appeal to tourism.

However as Zaro and the entirety of Poetry.LA hope to show, Los Angeles is a sprawling place for every type of poetry and it is being exposed one artist at a time.

The website has been around for over ten years and strives to expose the rich and sprawling poetry scene in and around Los Angeles.

Hilda Weiss and Wayne Lindberg created the website to be a platform to find out and follow poets mostly around Los Angeles.

Videos are released every two weeks and can be found both on the Poetry.LA website and YouTube.