Homeboy Industries, the anti-gang intervention program founded by Father Gregory Boyle, now has a literary wing in the form of the Homeboy Review, a 160-page anthology of memoir, poetry and fiction by first-time authors and the likes of such professionals as Luis Rodriguez (Always Running, La Vida Loca), Kerry Madden (Harper Lee Close Up) and Fr. Boyle (Tattoos on the Heart.) According to a piece that appeared in the local Catholic paper The Tidings, a recent kickoff event featured these authors and others reading from their work at the Homegirl Cafe, located in Homeboy's new building on the edge of Chinatown.
Tidings reporter R.W. Dellinger described the evening as filled with emotional readings by young ex-gang members, but as dramatic as these may have been, they were overshadowed by a tragedy that was not fiction — the fatal shooting of 28-year-old contributor Trayvon Jeffers, who had been gunned down in a San Dimas park days before the review's celebration. The shooting occurred during a barbecue attended by Compton gang members.
Three years ago L.A. author Leslie Schwartz (Angels Crest),
who teaches writing classes at Homeboy Industries, saw the need for a
print forum for her at-risk students and got the ball rolling on what
eventually became the review, which she now edits. Literary
publications have always been small miracles in themselves, especially
if they last more than one issue. How lucky Homeboy Review is remains to be seen, but the forces behind it seem definitely determined to make it last.