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

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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 or visit

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:

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.