BookSwell is producing the WeHo Reads 2022 literary season!

Great news! BookSwell has been selected by the City of West Hollywood’s Arts Division to produce the 2022 WeHo Reads season. BookSwell founder and managing editor Cody Sisco proposed a series of eight online events on the theme of creating joy in the midst of sorrow that will take the audience on a memorable journey throughout 2022.

Literary communities have continued to struggle through difficult times and yet many writers are not only confronting sources of pain and injustice but also creating paths toward healing, lightness, and joy. We aim to recognize the contribution of writers and lift up their voices.

Stay tuned for more info!


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If you missed our events in 2020 and 2021, catch up on our YouTube channel or check out the highlights below:

  • RISING UP: Poets Take A Stand

    This reading featured four poets from different backgrounds who are concerned with issues of social justice. Lisbeth Coiman, Deborah J. Hunter, Teresa Mei Chuc, and Leonora Simonovis will share their poems of resistance to stand up to racism, dictators, and the machinery of war itself. This online event, produced by Lisbeth Coiman in collaboration with Bookswell, was free to attend via Zoom and YouTube. All proceeds from pay-what-you-will ticketed donations went to Stop AAPI Hate.


  • Times of Thirst and Desire: An Erotic Lit Fundraiser for AIDS Walk 2020

    Thursday, September 10, 20208:00 PM – 9:00 PM PDT Explore the erotic landscape of desire as depicted by Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo, Tai Farnsworth, M. Kiguwa, Yesika Salgado, and Dare Williams in this AIDS Walk LA 2020 fundraiser. About this Event Following in the tradition of queer resistance and activism during the AIDS pandemic, we gather to celebrate writers exploring thirst for contact. The COVID-19 pandemic tests the boundaries of danger and desire. The benediction to “stay safe” even as we pursue intimacy feels familiar. We’ve prepared for this. We’ve lived it before. This reading will explore the erotic landscape of desire as depicted by Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo, Tai Farnsworth, M. Kiguwa, Yesika Salgado, and Dare Williams. We’ll discuss how our bodies’ intersections are reshaped by social distancing and the appeal of kink and fetish and all types of subversive and defiant sexual relations. This event is free to attend. All proceeds from pay-what-you-will ticketed donations will go to APLA Health (formerly AIDS Project Los Angeles), an L.A. not-for-profit health services organization that provides a lifeline of care to LGBTQ+ patients and other underserved communities. About the Writers Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo, author of Posada: Offerings of Witness and Refuge (Sundress Publications 2016), and is a former Read More …


  • YOU DOWN FOR THE CAUSE OR WHAT? Writers of color discuss allyship, featuring Sehba Sarwar, Tanya Ko Hong, Lisbeth Coiman, and Chris L. Terry

    The Black Lives Matter uprising has inspired people around the world to take to the streets and demand justice and transformational change. Companies and organizations are issuing statements of support. Social media is deluged with posts in support of the movement. As writers, it’s imperative that we pose penetrating questions not just to others but within ourselves and strive toward honesty and change, even when issues are hidden and obscured. At this gathering, writers will share their work and create space to discuss questions such as: Has the US has entered a new era of allyship? Has a new generation committed to an anti-racist future? Or are we seeing performative allyship that will fade away with the next news cycle? In a literary reading featuring Sehba Sarwar, Tanya Ko Hong, Lisbeth Coiman, and Chris L. Terry will raise questions and reflect on what it means to be an ally and how writers of color can generate and examine their work in the context of a larger movement. Audience members are encouraged to bring quotes from Black authors to share in the chat. The event is free to attend via Zoom, Facebook Live, and YouTube. All proceeds from pay-what-you-will Eventbrite tickets Read More …


  • The Arrival: A Juneteenth Reading with bridgette bianca, F. Douglas Brown, Camari Carter-Hawkins, Natashia Deón, and Ashaki M. Jackson

    June 18 @ 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm Other Ways to Watch the Replay Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BookSwellClub/live/ YouTube: https://youtu.be/D4n920Q4Wig According to the National Museum of African American History & Culture: “Juneteenth marks our country’s second independence day. Though it has long been celebrated among the African American community, it is a history that has been marginalized and still remains largely unknown to the wider public. The legacy of Juneteenth shows the value of deep hope and urgent organizing in uncertain times.” People across America and around the world are rising up to demand justice because Black lives matter. We are celebrating Juneteenth, its history and its lessons, with poets who’ll share their words with us. At an online gathering featuring bridgette bianca, F. Douglas Brown, Camari Carter-Hawkins, Natashia Deón, and Ashaki M. Jackson, we’ll be raising money for Black Lives Matter LA and other social justice organizations. About the BookSwell Read and Relate series To keep connections alive between readers and writers during troubled times, BookSwell is organizing Read & Relate, a virtual video chat salon celebrating books, writers, and the literary life. We’ll be using Zoom to conduct the salon and the feed will also be shared via Facebook Live and YouTube. Audio and Read More …


  • Writing Better Futures in Times of Crisis

    Description Is dystopia a model for living or a warning to prevent? Could certain narratives, (such as the zombie apocalypse/every man for himself scenario) be dangerous to societal thinking? How can science fiction and speculative narratives promote community mindedness in an uncertain future? Is it the responsibility of the author to create stories with all these ideas in mind? To debate these questions, we’re gathering science fiction and speculative fiction authors who’ve written utopian and dystopian stories. BookSwell Read & Relate vidchat salon host Cody Sisco will welcome guest host Kate Maruyama along with guest authors Cecil Castellucci, Matthew Kressel, PJ Manney, Nisi Shawl, and Sherri L. Smith. Watch Now About BookSwell’s Read & Relate vidchat salon To keep connections alive between readers and writers during troubled times, BookSwell is organizing Read & Relate, a virtual video chat salon celebrating books, writers, and the literary life. We’ll be using Zoom to conduct the salon and the feed will also be shared via Facebook Live. Audio and video may be recorded and re-shared via BookSwell’s social media channels. The Exposition Park – Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Regional Library of the Los Angeles Public Library system is a collaborating partner on the Read More …


  • BookSwell Read & Relate: a salon w/ guest host Mariano Zaro from Poetry LA

    Save the date: April 24 at 6 pm What is said and what is left unsaid in poetry? How do we communicate across gulfs of understanding and secrets unspoken? How do we interpret what we hear others say? Our journeys to the present moment have all taken different twists and turns and making connections can be remarkably tenuous in our chosen homelands. Author and poet Mariano Zaro brings a potent nostalgia and intimate observations to the task of tracing a journey from his boyhood Spanish village to his coming of age and arrival in California. Join Mariano and his featured guests, including Kim Dower, Alicia Elkort, and Steven Reigns, in a discussion of our journeys, making a literary life in LA, and poetic examinations of memory and destiny. About BookSwell’s Read & Relate vidchat salon To keep connections alive between readers and writers during troubled times, BookSwell is organizing Read & Relate, a biweekly virtual video chat salon celebrating books, writers, and the literary life. We’ll be using Zoom to conduct the salon. Audio and video may be recorded and re-shared via BookSwell’s social media channels. Join Zoom Meetinghttps://zoom.us/j/824771903 Watch via Facebook Livehttps://www.facebook.com/BookSwellClub/live/ Mariano Zaro Mariano Zaro is the author of Read More …


Queer Slam Fundraiser for AIDS Walk LA 2021


Monday, August 23 at 7 pm via Zoom

Queer Slam is a monthly podcast featuring stories, spoken word, and poetry from LA’s queer community.

Join us to hear headlining and open mic poets and storytellers in celebration of queerness.

Before COVID-19, there was “the other pandemic” of HIV/AIDS, which took an immeasurable toll on the LGBTQ+ community and many other marginalized communities. AIDS Project Los Angeles, and later APLA Heath & Wellness, responded early and swiftly to provide care and resources to those who were affected. Today, they provide comprehensive healthcare, dental, and behavioral health services to people with and without private insurance, on Medicaid—anyone who needs care can access it there. The quest to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic continues with treatment and prevention services and advocacy.

This online event, produced by Cody Sisco and Colby Cameron Holt and hosted by Tony Soto, is free to attend via Zoom. All proceeds from pay-what-you-will ticketed donations will go to APLA Health and Wellness for AIDS Walk LA 2021.

This event raised $120 for AIDS Walk LA 2021.

About the Headlining Poets

Gordon Blitz

After spending forty years as an accountant, Gordon retired in 2017 and became a writing machine. During 2020, Gordon had published work in Wingless Dreamer, Two Hawks Quarterly, The Doctor T.J.Eckleburg Review, Issue #22 of Really Systems, Gay Wicked Ways and Emeritus Chronicles. On January 1st 2021, his novella Shipped Off was published as part of the Running Wild Press Novella Anthology Volume four, book one. He’s a standup comic who has performed at Canter’s and The Blackbox Theater at the GLBT Village in Hollywood. He was also a contestant on “Hear My Story” that was featured on

IMRU. You can listen to his very own special episode of Queer Slam called “Just Gordon”. We love him very much here at Queer Slam!

His blog URL is: https://culturecritique.blog/

C.R.U.S.H. (Creating.Realities.Using.Spiritual.Hands)

C.R.U.S.H. is a literary and spoken word artist who has performed internationally and is a nationally ranked slam poet. They are the15th ranked female poet in the nation (Women of the World Poetry Slam 2020) and the 30th ranked poet in the world (iWPS). They are a member of the Dallas Poetry Slam Team where they took 1st place at Southwest Shootout 2019 Team Competition and 2nd Place at SoFried 2019 and IPS 2021 Regional Poetry Team Competition Their purpose is merging poetry, art, and positive energy to help others find healing and inner power to create their desired realities.

Their website is: https://crush-crave.square.site/

RISING UP: Poets Take A Stand

Rising Up: Poets Take A Stand

This reading featured four poets from different backgrounds who are concerned with issues of social justice. Lisbeth Coiman, Deborah J. Hunter, Teresa Mei Chuc, and Leonora Simonovis will share their poems of resistance to stand up to racism, dictators, and the machinery of war itself.

This online event, produced by Lisbeth Coiman in collaboration with Bookswell, was free to attend via Zoom and YouTube. All proceeds from pay-what-you-will ticketed donations went to Stop AAPI Hate.

Book Giveaway: Taking Charge of Change by Paul Shoemaker

The social, economic and health challenges facing us in the 2020s are radically different than those we faced even one generation ago. Meet the new leaders, Rebuilders, who are moving us forward and learn how to apply their same effectiveness, qualities, and attributes to your own leadership.

The leadership it has always taken to build our communities and companies is still relevant, but not sufficient to rebuild an America that has become too uneven and siloed over the last 20 years. 

Using the metaphor of America’s deteriorating bridges, social impact leader and author Shoemaker shows us in Taking Charge of Change that the foundations of American communities and companies are in deep need of rethinking and rebuilding. Writing for socially conscious and civically active leaders who seek greater impact—in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors—Shoemaker profiles thirty-eight rock star change agents who he dubs Rebuilders. Readers will: 

  • Learn the 5 vital traits change leaders use to solve big problems.
  • Gain perspective from relevant research, data, leadership lessons, and 3 case studies that illuminate the path ahead.
  • Meet the leaders setting the standard for social change impact … all shared in Shoemaker’s signature storytelling style.

Taking Charge of Change speaks to a powerful truth: Each of us does not have to passively let change happen to us. We can each be a leader, a Rebuilder, that shapes the kind of change we want to see in the world. We can be an active positive force in leading our communities, companies, and citizens in the decade ahead.

Ultimately, Shoemaker shows how change is happening and profiles the Rebuilders leading it and their unique qualities of 24-7 Authenticity, Complexity Capacity, and much more to inform and inspire you as a leader.

To enter the book giveaway, head to our Instagram, hit us up with a follow, and tag a friend in the comments to win. See you on our insta!

Do you like fine print? You can read the official rules here.