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WeHo Reads: “What Is Left” Book Launch & Poetry Reading

December 12, 2021 @ 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

WeHo Reads presents Carla Rachel Sameth’s chapbook launch for “What Is Left,” with a Q&A and readings by special guest poets.

WeHo Reads: “What Is Left” Book Launch & Poetry Reading

The City of West Hollywood’s WeHo Reads program and City Poet Laureate Brian Sonia-Wallace present a poetry reading and book launch for Carla Rachel Sameth’s new chapbook, What Is Left, published by dancing girl press. This event will feature readings from the book, a Q&A, and readings by special guest poets Chen Chen, Jireh Deng, Seema Reza, and Victor Yates.


Carla Sameth’s poetry captures the sudden calamity of the pandemic and the way it has made us redraft the future, hold the helplessness of loss from the quiet of our homes, and continue to love despite the distance. The lens of the mother is at the heart of her poems–a mother who knows loss profoundly, a queer mother, and mother to a Black son–and offers potent and urgent currents of protection in a shaky world. She also delivers surprising notes of levity, and we find ourselves in those moments too, and we ride the waves of both demise and recovery. More at


Carla Sameth’s is the author of What is Left (dancing girl press, 2021) and memoir One Day on the Gold Line (published 2019, reissue forthcoming by Golden Foothills Press, 2022). Her writing on blended/unblended, queer, multi-racial and single parent families appears in a variety of literary journals and anthologies. Carla’s work has been twice named as Notable Essays of the Year in Best American Essays. A Pasadena Rose Poet, a West Hollywood Pride Poet, and a former PEN Teaching Artist, Carla teaches creative writing to high school and university students, and has taught incarcerated youth. More at more at


… a record of family life, outrage and grief during the COVID-19 pandemic and this new yet old era of racist violence in the US. Carla Rachel Sameth’s lyrical record is at once searingly personal and politically astute.

—Chen Chen, author of When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities

… a beautifully absurd witness to the early days of the pandemic… honest, tender and poignantly humorous.

—Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo, author of Posada: Offerings of Witness and Refuge 

…These poems are not like pills to be taken in doses but more like rich and aromatic cups of coffee to savor and relish, wishing there were more.

—Shuly Xóchitl Cawood, author of Trouble Can Be So Beautiful at the Beginning

The feel, focus and flavor of What Is Left bears fruit familiar and fresh…

—Gerda Govine Ituarte, author of Future Awakes in Mouth of NOW


Chen Chen’s second book of poetry, Your Emergency Contact Has Experienced an Emergency, is forthcoming from BOA Editions in September 2022. His first book, When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities (BOA Editions, 2017), was long-listed for the National Book Award and won the Thom Gunn Award, among other honors. His work appears in many publications, including three editions of The Best American Poetry. He teaches at Brandeis University and also serves on the poetry faculty for the low residency MFA programs at New England College and Stonecoast.

Seema Reza is the author of A Constellation of Half-Lives & When the World Breaks Open. Based in Maryland, she has led writing workshops within correctional facilities, military and civilian hospitals, elementary and secondary schools, and universities. She is the CEO of Community Building Art Works, a unique arts organization that encourages the use of the arts as a tool for narration, self-care and socialization among a military population struggling with emotional and physical injuries. Reza’s work with veterans is featured in the 2018 HBO documentary We Are Not Done Yet. An alumnus of Goddard College and VONA, she has had writing online and in print in McSweeney’s, The LA Review, The Feminist Wire, The Offing, and Entropy among others.

Jireh Deng (she/they) is a queer Asian American poet and journalist born and raised in the San Gabriel Valley. Their work appears in the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, the podcast VS, L.A. Taco, the Human Rights Campaign, and more. They are a student at CSU Long Beach and the student advisory board representative for the Asian American Journalist Association’s Los Angeles Chapter. In summer 2021 they interned at the L.A. Times and is currently interning at NPR. When they aren’t writing, you can probably find them cooking noodles or fried rice for loved ones.

Victor Yates is a writer, storyteller, and performance artist. His digital Black Lives Matter spoken word performance, Death Sentence, received grants from the city of West Hollywood (2020) and Glendale (2021). He was also awarded a grant from West Hollywood to shoot a documentary recording narratives of older gay men. He was selected for the Fire Island Artist Residency and is the winner of the 2020 George Floyd Honorarium for Poetry from the Los Angeles Press. He won the 2017 Judith A. Markowitz Award for Emerging LGBTQ Writers and the 2016 Lambda Literary Award for LGBT Debut Fiction for his book, A Love Like Blood.

Brian Sonia-Wallace is the 4th Poet Laureate of the City of West Hollywood and a national 2021 Laureate Fellow for the Academy of American Poets. He has been published in, Rattle, Rolling Stone, and The Guardian. Brian has spent the last decade writing poems for over 10,000 strangers based on their stories in a string of unlikely residencies ranging from Amtrak to the Mall of America. These adventures and poems appear in Brian’s memoir, The Poetry of Strangers (Harper Collins, 2020) which the New York Times called, “full of optimism and wide-eyed wonder…he charms us.” More at & @rentpoet.

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