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A Night of Love: In Honor of bell hooks

February 27 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

An online reading honoring the life and work of bell hooks with poetry readings by Kim Benjamin, Pam Ward, Derrick Weston Brown, and others.

Join us for “A Night of Love,” a celebration of the life and work of poet, scholar, and cultural critic, bell hooks. Hosted by Shonda Buchanan, the tribute reading brings together a panel of contemporary poets and academics to explore the legacy of bell hooks’s thinking on topics that include Black feminism, social justice, race, womanhood, masculinity, self-love, and radical action. The panelists will also reflect on bell hooks’s writings, which encompass more than thirty published books, and will discuss the impact those writings had on their own individual work, and on the contributions hooks made to African-American literature and to the wider racial political discourse in the U.S. Join us virtually, as we honor one of the most brilliant thinkers of our time.

Zoom link will be shared 24 hours before and on the day of the event

About the authors

bell hooks: Born Gloria Jean Watkins in 1952, Hopkinsville, Kentucky, better known as bell hooks, she authored more than thirty books throughout her life, she authored more than 30 books throughout her life, including her first chapbook, And there we wept, her collection of essays on romantic love in modern society, All about love: New Visions, and her memoir Bone Black: Memories of girlhood, all of which made essential contributions to feminist and critical race theory. As an academic, she taught at institutions including the University of Southern California, Stanford University, Yale University, and The City College of New York, before joining Berea College in Berea, Kentucky, in 2004, where a decade later she founded the bell hooks Institute. The author chose to write her name in lowercase in honor of her great-grandmother and to convey that her works are the most important focus, not her personal qualities. bell hooks passed away on December, 2021, in Berea, Kentucky.

Kim Benjamin is an educator who specializes in teaching reading for Los Angeles Unified School District. Her dissertation, “The Intentional Love of a black woman for her son” explores systemic failures within educational, judicial, and healthcare systems and is informed by such works as Bell Hook’s Trilogy, All About Love: new visions; Salvation, black people and love; and Communion, the female search for love. The foundation of her work, her writing, and her activism as a teacher and mother is grounded on the notion of love as ammunition, and fortification against social hostilities.

Pam Ward recently released her poetry book, Between Good Men & No Man At All (World Stage Press 2022). Author of two novels, Want Some Get Some, and Bad Girls Burn Slow. A California Arts Council Fellow and Pushcart nominee, Pam’s poetry has appeared in Calyx, Chiron, The Santa Monica Review, Voices of Leimert Park and The Los Angeles Times. Her multi-media show I Didn’t Survive Slavery for This! was a poetic riff on life post-emancipation. Daughter of Watts Library architect, a UCLA graduate, and Art Center instructor/designer, Pam’s writing sings of her beloved city in prismatic color.

F. Douglas Brown is the author of two poetry collections, ICON (Writ Large Press, 2018), and Zero to Three (University of Georgia, 2014), winner of the 2013 Cave Canem Poetry Prize selected by US Poet Laureate, Tracy K. Smith. He also co-authored with poet Geffrey Davis, Begotten (URB Books, 2016), a chapbook of poetry as part of the Floodgate Poetry Series. Brown, an educator for over 20 years, currently teaches English and African American Poetry at Loyola High School of Los Angeles, an all-boys Jesuit school. He is both a Cave Canem and Kundiman fellow, and was selected by Poets & Writers as one of their ten notable Debut Poets of 2014. His poems have appeared in the Academy of American Poets, The PBS News Hour, The Virginia Quarterly (VQR), Bat City Review, The Chicago Quarterly Review (CQR), The Southern Humanities Review, The Sugar House Review, Cura Magazine, and Muzzle Magazine. He is co-founder and curator of un::fade::able – The Requiem for Sandra Bland, a quarterly reading series examining restorative justice through poetry as a means to address racism.

Derrick Weston Brown holds an MFA from American University. He is the founding Poet-In-Residence of Busboys and Poets and a graduate of the Cave Canem and VONA workshops. His work has been published in Colorlines and Tidal Basin Review. His first collection of poems Wisdom Teeth was released in 2011 by PM Press. His second collection, On All Fronts, was published by Upper Rubber Boot Press in March 2019. He resides in Mount Rainier MD.

Shonda Buchanan 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. President of the Board of Trustees at Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center, Shonda is the recipient of the Brody Arts Fellowship from the California Community Foundation, a Big Read grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and several Virginia Foundation for the Humanities grants. A Sundance Institute Writing Arts fellow and a PEN Center Emerging Voices fellow, Shonda is a 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. A journalist for 25+ years, Shonda has published 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. Currently a Writing Instructor for First Year Seminar and a Senior Lecturer for the Department of African American Studies at Loyola Marymount University, Shonda recently completed a collection of poetry about Nina Simone and is working on her second memoir and a novel. 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 or visit

Pat Payne aka The Velvet Hammer is an omnicreative artist who enjoys creating stunning works of beauty in any and all mediums and disciplines. She is a Caribbean-American multi-media installation/performance artist, poet, visual artist, reluctant shaman, entrepreneur and self-avowed troublemaker. Payne is also the reigning Taos Poetry Circus Heavyweight Champion. A founding member of the Neo-Spinsters poetry troupe, and a former member of the San Diego-based troupe, the Taco Shop Poets, her one-woman shows and poetry have been presented at venues including REDCAT, the LA Women’s Theater Festival, Calgary/Banff Poetry Festival, Nuyorican Poet’s Café, University of Stirling, Edinburgh, and Beyond Baroque.

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