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:

  • WeHo Reads: Light in Our Hearts

  • WeHo Reads: Expansive Vistas and Hidden Corners

  • WeHo Reads Returns for an Inspiring Fall 2022 Season

    We’re back! After a summer hiatus, BookSwell returns with three events on the ROAD TO JOY! 9/20 WeHo Reads: Expansive Vistas and Hidden Corners The next WeHo Reads event is Expansive Vistas and Hidden Corners on Tuesday, September 20, 2022, at 6 p.m. Artists and writers explore concepts of places, how they’re made, and how we understand, remember, and memorialize them. Lynell George is a journalist and essayist based in Los Angeles, who tells the city’s story one sentence at a time. Her book, After/Image: Los Angeles Outside the Frame (Angel City Press 2018), is an exploration of the city in text and photography, and she explores the extraordinary creative life of Octavia E. Butler in A Handful of Earth, A Handful of Sky, published by Angel City Press in 2020. She will be in discussion with Marisela Norte, an American writer, poet, and artist living in Los Angeles and known for poetry that explores the unseen city, including her poetry collection Peeping Tom Tom Girl (Sunbelt Publications 2008). Together, they will explore hidden corners of Los Angeles and the poetry of the city in images and text. 10/5 WeHo Reads: Poets Laureate Across America There will also be a Read More …

  • Watch the replay of WeHo Reads: Pride & Joy in the Matrix

    We looked for joy in online spaces with Isle McElroy, Patrick Nathan, and Reuben “Tihi” Hayslett and guided writing with Amy Spies. About WeHo Reads: Pride & Joy in the Matrix LGBTQ+ authors are taking a hard look at society IRL and virtually, pinpointing the ways we come up short in connecting with and loving each other. Patrick Nathan examines the culture of fascistic images that pervade the online media landscape in his book Image Control (Counterpoint Press 2021). Reuben “Tihi” Hayslett uses short fiction, including his volume of short stories Dark Corners (Running Wild Press 2019), to illuminate the ways we can be marginalized as well as how we can fight back and lose some virtue in the process. Isle McElroy writes about diet culture, masculinity, nonbinary identity, basketball, scammers, books, and body dysmorphia. Their debut novel, The Atmospherians, was published in 2021 (Atria Books). Together, they’ll discuss online spaces, the challenges of creating joy online—is it even possible?—and the role of critique and creativity in shifting culture. A moment of guided meditation and mindful writing will be led by Amy Spies, a writer and teacher in the film, television, and new media industries. WeHo Reads is a literary series presented by the City of West Hollywood. More information Read More …

  • WeHo Reads: Pride & Joy in the Matrix

  • WeHo Reads: Explorations Beyond Borders

  • WeHo Reads: Trans | Future | Poetics

  • Meet Prominent Members of Women Who Submit

    Cody Sisco first heard about Women Who Submit from Sakae Manning, a brilliant writer and friend who he met through the Los Angeles Writers Critique Group. When he started BookSwell, he asked Sakae to join the advisory group to guide our efforts to lift up the voices of marginalized writers. That led to organizing our first event at Lambda Literary LitFest 2019 “Intentional Intersectionality: Amplifying Queer Voices of Color,” which included a discussion about advocacy and community featuring Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo, a co-founder of Women Who Submit. When Cody was developing the proposal for the Road to Joy for the City of West Hollywood Arts Department, he met Xochitl over drinks at Frogtown Brewery to brainstorm the event–the first time they had met in person since the AWP Conference in March 2020 before the full brunt of the coronavirus pandemic hit and when WWS launched their first anthology, ACCOLADES. Now it’s time to celebrate their second anthology, GATHERING. Women Who Submit seeks to empower women and nonbinary writers by creating physical and virtual spaces for sharing information, supporting and encouraging submissions to literary journals, and clarifying the submission and publication process. Meet some of the influential members who will be participating in 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:

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:


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.