Uptown Word homepage

What We Do

Uptown Word & Arts facilitates free public and private creative writing workshops and organizes free arts events--literary readings, art exhibits, and music performances--in Southern California.

Past Events

We've facilitated creative writing workshops for adults and youth in underserved communities and for the general public; organized readings by accomplished authors such as Isabel Quintero, Michael Datcher, and Suzanne Lummis; presented exhibits by visual artists from Long Beach and Los Angeles; and, hosted a Write Inn for Women Writers.

Our workshops and arts events have been held at a variety of venues, including a Native American counseling center, an outreach event for children of incarcerated parents, a homeless center in the Inland Empire, the North Branch Neighborhood Library in Long Beach, and small businesses such as Ricardo's Nursery.

Our literary and arts events have been attended by audience members from across Southern California and included a live DJ, open mic, and receptions with light refreshments.

See our "Past Events" page for more information.

Our Mission is to

  • Create spaces where writers, artists, musicians, and community members of all backgrounds and ages can engage and build community
  • Foster literacy development, a passion for literature and the arts, and creative and self expression
  • Feature and support authors and artists from underrepresented groups and that reflect the diverse community in Long Beach
  • Bring the arts to underserved communities

Who We Are

liz gonzález, MFA, is the founder and director of Uptown Word & Arts. She has been active in the Southern California literary, theater, art, and music scene since 1990 and has over twenty-five years experience coordinating literary events and facilitating writing workshops. She's presented her writing at a variety of venues for audiences of different ages and backgrounds. She is a member of the Macondo Writing Workshop and teaches creative writing through the UCLA Extension Writers' Program. Her poetry, fiction, and memoirs have been published widely. The Arts Council for Long Beach awarded her a 2016 Incite / Insight Award for her work through Uptown Word & Art. For more about liz: www.lizgonzalez.com

Jorge Martin, program assistant for Uptown Word & Arts, is a reseach scientist by day and a sound artist and sound engineer during his off hours. He began his journey in music as a classically trained clarinetist and pianist. Today, he interweaves semi-uncontrollable noises, his field-recordings, sine waves, and feedback to create soundscapes. His performances involve collaborations with other musicians and artists, such as Gregory Lenczycki, Anna Homler, the Southern California Soundscape Ensemble, among others.

CONTACT: beneathbone

FACEBOOK PAGE : https://www.facebook.com/UptownWordArts/?fref=ts


Arts Council for Long Beach awards liz gonzález with an Incite / Insight Award for her work through Uptown Word & Arts

Article: Valentine event shows love for at-risk youth and families

Interview: Spoken Word and Uptown Arts

Article: January Uptown Word Series Dedicated to San Bernardino

Short Video of November 2015 event: Long Beach Shorts: Uptown Word

Article: UPTOWN WORD Reading Series to Promote Literacy, Community, Art in Uptown Long Beach"

Irene Suico Soriano, poet, wrote the following about her experience when she featured at Uptown Word & Arts at Ricardo's Nursery in October 2015.

What a wonderful opportunity given to me by literary curator liz gonzález to be part of the Uptown Word [& Arts]* October in Long Beach yesterday. I'm a big fan of bringing the written | spoken word beyond the university, museums and any usual space where writers and artists are invited to "perform" and bringing art into the heart of the communities people live and move within. Such a treat to be introduced to the work and share the mic with literary gatekeepers Thomas R. Thomas, Jerry Garcia and the various participants during the open mic portion.

North Long Beach is so good about mobilizing community businesses and residents and having movers and shakers initiating projects and giving legs to community building art projects like the Uptown Word [& Arts]. It was heartwarming to see the diversity in the audience, many LB residents and small business owners coming together. I highly recommend all my LB friends to get their drought resistant plants (and fruit trees, etc.) from Ricardo's Nursery. I love that the owner Ricardo worked hard to grow this business from 8 years ago and it continues to flourish! I also appreciated his very supportive attitude towards his son, Adam's musical abilities and love for performing in front of an audience plus having a great attitude about hosting a reading in his place of business.

Event sponsors, the Uptown Business District came through providing drinking water for all attendees during a hot afternoon and recruited a local eatery in the area to donate food for the event. It truly was a community led and supported event. A wonderful experience...thanks to all who made it so!

*Updated to reflect our current name

We are grateful to the following organizations that have supported some of our past events:

Arts Council for Long Beach and the City of Long Beach

Poets & Writers through grants it has received from The James Irvine Foundation and the Hearst Foundations

The Uptown Business District, North Long Beach


Long Beach Community Action Partnership



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