Uptown Word homepage

Our Mission is to

  • Create inclusive 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 who reflect the diverse community in the area of the event
  • Bring the arts to underserved communities

What We Do

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

We've facilitated creative writing and creative journaling 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 private Write Inns for Womxn Writers.

Our workshops and arts events have been held at a variety of settings, including a Native American counseling center, an outreach event for children of incarcerated parents, a homeless center in the Inland Empire, the Michelle Obama Neighborhood Library in North 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 have included a live DJ, open mic, and receptions with light refreshments. See our "Past Events" page for more information.

We are available to lead community writing workshops, one-day or longer, to people of all ages and stages of writing on a variety of topics, including basics of creative writing— poetry, fiction, and memoir—generative workshops, keeping family stories and your own, submitting to journals, and applying to MFA programs and for scholarships.

Recent workshops we've conducted include:

Creative Journaling: Learn techniques to creatively express yourself on the page with words, collage, images you create or collect, colored writing utensils, and more.

Cuento Poems: Turn an experience, memory, or a description of a person or place, real or imagined, into poetry that resonates.

Stories and Craft Workshop: Learn how to celebrate a person, place, or thing in a poem, story, or paragraph from liz gonzález. Then create a one-of-a-kind cover for your composition book from craft and sewing expert Cynthia Duran.

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 facilitated creative writing workshops at a variety of settings for participants of different ages, abilities, literacy levels, and backgrounds. She is a member of the Macondo Writing Workshop and teaches creative writing through the UCLA Extension Writers' Program. She is the author of Dancing in the Santa Ana Winds: Poems y Cuentos New and Selected. 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 in the North Long Beach community through Uptown Word & Arts. For more about liz: www.lizgonzalez.com

Jorge Martin, program assistant for Uptown Word & Arts, is a research scientist on week days 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 sometimes 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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