WeHo Reads: How We Gather | A Celebration of Women Who Submit’s New Anthology Gathering

WeHo Reads: How We Gather | A Celebration of Women Who Submit

Time: March 16 @ 6:00 pm – March 16 @ 7:30 pm


We celebrate Women Who Submit’s new anthology GATHERING with editors and contributors.In response to Safer at Home in March 2020, Women Who Submit (WWS) began weekly, virtual Saturday check-ins where members shared space for creativity and self-care. Over the months members wrote together, cried together, and danced together. While WWS exists to empower its members’ efforts to share their writing with the world, this time brought in new needs beyond staying accountable and productive. And from this shared space came the theme for their 2nd anthology, Gathering, recently published by Jamii Press, which captures the essence of this collaborative online space from the creation of the editorial team to the stories, poems, essays, and plays published in its pages. This event will feature a performance of “Ahoy, Women Who Submit,” a collaborative poem created during Saturday check-ins and published in Gathering; a collaborative writing prompt facilitated by Hazel Kight Witham; as well as a panel talk with the Gathering editorial team and contributors to the anthology. Joining the event will be Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo, Tisha Marie Reichle-Aguilera, Noriko Nakada, Flint, and more. A moment of healing at the start of the event will be led by Thea Pueschel.WeHo Reads is a Read More ...


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Continue the Road to Joy with WeHo Reads: Justice and Resilience: A Journey in Poetry

WeHo Reads: Justice and Resilience | A Journey in Poetry

Time: February 16 @ 6:00 pm – February 16 @ 7:30 pm


We look to the past with poets Lynne Thompson, Natalie J. Graham, and Lester Graves Lennon and writing prompts from Camari Carter Hawkins. Our journey toward justice and resilience continues during African American History Month. Los Angeles Poet Laureate Lynne Thompson will lead a conversation with Orange County’s first Poet Laureate, Natalie J. Graham, alongside poet Lester Graves Lennon. This discussion and literary reading will focus on incorporating history into poetry and the struggle for justice and peace. Camari Carter Hawkins will also lead the audience through guided journaling prompts. WeHo Reads is a literary series presented by the City of West Hollywood. More information and events at www.weho.org/wehoreads. BookSwell, a literary events and media company dedicated to lifting up writers from historically excluded communities, is producing the WeHo Reads 2022 season. Additional support is provided by UCLA Extension Writers’ Program and Poets & Writers as well as media partnerships with Bookshop.org, Book Soup, and Los Angeles Review of Books.


The Road to Joy starts with WeHo Reads: Songs and Signs of Hope and Healing

WeHo Reads: Songs and Signs of Hope and Healing
Time: January 25 @ 6:00 pm – January 25 @ 7:30 pm

Online Event Our journey to joy begins with songs, poems, stories, and images from Shonda Buchanan, Peter J. Harris, and Imani Tolliver. During our WeHo Reads 2022 series opener, poets and writers will share songs, poems, and reflections on healing and hope. Shonda Buchanan will open the event with a song and discuss her memoir Black Indian, which explores her family’s legacy of being African Americans with American Indian roots and how they dealt with not just society’s ostracization but the consequences of this dual inheritance. Peter J. Harris will discuss the Black Man of Happiness Project’s See You Campaign, which excavates historical photos of Black men “emanating a sense of joy.” Imani Tolliver will recount her intersectional and sacred journey as a Black queer woman and share excerpts from her memoir-in-verse Runaway. WeHo Reads is a literary series presented by the City of West Hollywood. More information and events at www.weho.org/wehoreads. BookSwell, a literary events and media company dedicated to lifting up writers from historically excluded communities, is producing the WeHo Reads 2022 season. Additional support is provided by UCLA Extension Writers' Program, Beyond Baroque, Poets & Writers and media partnerships with the Los Angeles Review of Books, Bookshop.org, Read More ...


Shonda Buchanan

A Pushcart Prize nominee, a USC Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities Fellow and a Department of Cultural Affairs City of Los Angeles (COLA) Master Artist Fellow, Shonda Buchanan is the author of five books, including the award-winning memoir, Black Indian.

An award-winning poet, fiction, nonfiction writer and educator, Shonda has been a journalist for 25+ years, publishing in the Los Angeles Times, the LA Weekly, AWP’s The Writer’s Chronicle, Los Angeles Times Magazine, Indian Country Today, and The International Review of African American Art. VP of Beyond Baroque Literary Art Center’s Board of Trustees, Shonda is also a Sundance Institute Writing Arts fellow, a PEN Center Emerging Voices fellow and a Jentel Artist Residency fellow. Finalist for the 2021 Mississippi Review poetry contest, Shonda’s memoir, Black Indian, won the 2020 Indie New Generation Book Award and was chosen by PBS NewsHour as a “top 20 books to read” to learn about institutional racism.

Her memoir begins the saga of her family’s migration stories of Free People of Color communities exploring identity, ethnicity, landscape and loss. Her first collection of poetry, Who’s Afraid of Black Indians? was nominated for the Black Caucus of the American Library Association and the Library of Virginia Book Awards. An international lecturer and workshop leader, Shonda received an MFA from Antioch University, a MA and BA in English from Loyola Marymount University where she is a Senior Lecturer. Daughter of Mixed bloods, Shonda lives and writes in her adopted home on Tongva and Chumash land in Los Angeles, California. For more information, follow @shondabuchanan or contact her at Shondabuchanan@gmail.com or visit www.ShondaBuchanan.com.

Peter J. Harris

Peter J. Harris, 2018 Los Angeles COLA Fellow in literary arts, Fellow of the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities at USC, is the author of Bless the Ashes, poetry (Tia Chucha Press), winner of the 2015 PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award, and The Black Man of Happiness: In Pursuit of My ‘Unalienable Right,’ a book of personal essays, winner of a 2015 American Book Award. In 2022, FlowerSong Press will publish Harris’ Safe Arms: 20 Love & Erotic Poems (w/an Ooh Baby Baby moan), Spanish translation by Francisco Letelier, and Beyond Baroque Books will publish Harris’ SongAgain as part of its Pacific Coast Poetry Series. Harris is founding director of The Black Man of Happiness Project, a creative, intellectual and artistic exploration of Black men and joy. Harris writes the blog WREAKING HAPPINESS: A Joyful Living Journal: www.inspirationcrib.com

Imani Tolliver

Imani Tolliver is an award-winning poet, artist, educator, and author of Runaway: A Memoir in Verse. She is a graduate of Howard University where she received the John J. Wright Literary Award, served as Poet Laureate for the Watts Towers Arts Center, and was awarded literary fellowships from the Cave Canem Foundation, the Lannan Foundation, and George Washington University. Imani received a Certificate of Congressional Recognition by the U.S. House of Representatives and a Certificate of Recognition by the City of Los Angeles for her work in support of the literary arts in Southern California. https://www.imanitolliver.com/

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.

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

Thursday, September 10, 2020
8:00 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 Steinbeck Fellow and Poets & Writers California Writers Exchange winner. Her work is published in Acentos Review, CALYX, and crazyhorse. She is a member of Miresa Collective and cofounder of Women Who Submit.

Tai Farnsworth is a mixed-race, queer writer based in LA. Since earning her MFA, she’s been toiling away in education while working on revisions for her agent. When she’s not writing or poisoning young minds with her liberal agenda, she is reading, practicing yoga, cooking, and tending to her plants. Her work, which focuses heavily on self-acceptance and queerness, can be found in The Evansville Review, Sinister Wisdom, Homology Lit, Drunk Monkeys, and Anastamos. Find her @taionthefly.

M. Kiguwa graduated from the London School of Economics and Political Science with her master’s in media, communication, and development and has worked in the entertainment industry in the United States, Europe, and Africa for over 10 years. She is currently writing an adventure memoir as a 2020 PEN America Emerging Voices Fellow.

Yesika Salgado is a Los Angeles based Salvadoran poet who writes about her family, her culture, her city, and her fat brown body. She has shared her work in venues and campuses throughout the country. Salgado is a 2017 and 2018 National Poetry Slam finalist. Her work has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, Teen Vogue, Univision, CNN, Huffington Post, NPR, TEDx, and many other digital platforms. She is an internationally recognized body-positive activist and the writer of the column Suelta for Remezcla. Yesika is the author of best-sellers Corazón, Tesoro, and Hermosa, published with Not a Cult.

A 2019 PEN America Emerging Voices Fellow, Dare Williams is a Queer HIV-positive poet, artist, rooted in Southern California. He has received fellowships from John Ashbury Home School and The Frost Place. Dare’s poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a two-time finalist for Blood Orange Review’s contest. His work has been featured in Cultural Weekly, Bending Genres, THRUSH and Exposition Review. He is currently working on his first poetry collection.