Uptown Word homepage


Based in Long Beach, we are a grassroots organization that organizes and hosts arts events—literary readings, film screenings, art exhibits, and musical performances— and that conducts creative writing workshops in Southern California.


The mission of Uptown Word & Arts is to create inclusive spaces where community members and artists in different disciplines can interact; to foster literacy development, a passion for literature and the arts, and creative and self expression; to feature and support artists from underrepresented groups and who reflect the diverse community; and, to bring the arts to underserved communities.


Since 2015, we’ve held literary readings featuring accomplished poets and writers such as Isabel Quintero, Adolfo Guzman-Lopez, Michael Datcher, and Suzanne Lummis. In addition to traditional venues, we’ve held events at a plant nursery, railroad museum, and nature preserve. Some of our events have included art exhibits, musical performances, and a DJ. We also screened a short film by a local filmmaker.

In 2016 and 2018, we hosted private Womxn’s Write Inns where womxn writers gathered to write, break bread together, share their writing and projects, and receive and give support. Uptown Word & Arts has hosted a group of womxn from the original gatherings that continued to meet on a monthly basis.

We’ve partnered with organizations to conduct creative writing and creative journaling workshops for adults and youth in underserved communities and for the general public at a variety of settings, including a Native American counseling center, an outreach event for children of incarcerated parents, a homeless center, and public libraries.


  • Leave the Audience Wanting More! Develop your public reading skills and gain confidence to share your work in front of an audience. Learn techniques to prepare for public readings, work with a mic, and give captivating readings.
  • 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 or memory into poetry that resonates.
  • Keeping Your Family Stories, Keeping Your Own: Learn techniques to research and record your family’s stories and turn their stories and your own into captivating stories on the page.
  • Basics of creative writing— poetry, fiction, and memoir
  • Applying for scholarships and grants and to residencies and MFA programs


We have over 25 years experience organizing and hosting arts events, conducting creative writing workshops, and collaborating with writers, musicians, and visual artists to organize and host arts events.

liz gonzález, MFA, writer and poet, 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 conducting writing workshops. She's conducted writing workshops at a variety of settings for participants of different ages, abilities, literacy levels, and backgrounds. She holds an MFA in English and Creative Writing from Mills College and a BA in Theatre Arts: Acting and Directing from CSU Los Angeles. She is a member of the Macondo Writing Workshop, served on the Macondo Writing Workshop 2018 ad hoc board, and teaches creative writing through the UCLA Extension Writers' Program. Her book, Dancing in the Santa Ana Winds: Poems y Cuentos New and Selected, was released in July 2018 by Los Nietos Press. Her poetry, fiction, and memoirs have been published widely. The Arts Council for Long Beach awarded liz 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. In the 90's, with friends, he ran a cafe in DTLA where he was the coordinator for music performances, literary readings, art openings, and other events there. 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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