WeHo Reads 2022: Road to Joy

The City of West Hollywood invites community members to celebrate literature and local authors with its 2022 WeHo Reads literary series. The series will be presented live online on the City of West Hollywood’s WeHo Arts YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/wehoarts and is produced by BookSwell, LLC.

This year’s theme for WeHo Reads is Road to Joy. The Road to Joy will invite guest poets and authors to discuss how they create joy in their writing and in their lives and invite readers to participate and find their own paths to healing and contentment with moments of guided meditation, art appreciation, writing prompts, a photography contest, and other creative projects.


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

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.

Wednesday, April 6, 2022 | 6:00 p.m. 

WeHo Reads: Trans | Future | Poetics 

Our journey ascends to where poetry meets science fiction meets activism with Ava Dadvand, Ryka Aoki, Harry Josephine Giles, and Simba the Poet, curated and hosted by West Hollywood City Poet Laureate Brian Sonia-Wallace.

“Poetry is a weapon loaded with future” — Gabriel Celaya

For National Poetry Month, this event will bring together two established and two emerging trans poets in a reading and dialogue about the future and the intersections of science fiction and poetry, activism and language. Curated and hosted by West Hollywood City Poet Laureate Brian Sonia-Wallace, readers include Ryka Aoki, LA-based poet and author of the new sci-fi novel Light from Uncommon Stars, Harry Josephine Giles, Scottish poet and author of Deep Wheel Orcadia, in conversation with young poets and organizers Simba the Poet (Nashville) and Ava Dadvand (from Los Angeles, currently writing and studying at Yale).

Tuesday, May 4, 2022 | 6:00 p.m. 

WeHo Reads: Explorations Beyond Borders

The road to joy takes us across boundaries with Lisbeth Coiman, Myriam J. A. Chancy, Teresa Mei Chuc, and Sehba Sarwar.

Even before the pandemic, writers and artists worked across borders to share their lives, passions, and sorrows. This event brings together poets and authors with an international perspective on joy, justice, resilience, and healing.

Sehba Sarwar, author of Black Wings (Veliz Books 2019), is a transnational writer, workshop leader, artist, and community activist tackling gender, displacement, and border issues. Teresa Mei Chuc is a poet, editor, and teacher whose heritage, history, and writing transcend decolonization. She served as 2018-2020 Altadena Poet Laureate and is the author of Invisible Light (Many Voices Press 2018) and Keeper of the Winds (FootHills Publishing 2014). Lisbeth Coiman is a bilingual writer, educator, cultural commentator, and rezandera from Venezuela whose collection Uprising / Alzamiento was released in 2021 (Finishing Line Press). Myriam J. A. Chancy is a Haitian-Canadian/American writer born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and subsequently raised there and in Canada and whose novel What Storm, What Thunder was released in 2021 in Canada (HarperCollins Canada) and the United States (Tin House).

Tuesday, June 7, 2022 | 6:00 p.m. 

WeHo Reads: Pride & Joy in the Matrix

We look for joy in online spaces with Alex McElroy, Patrick Nathan, and Reuben “Tihi” Hayslett and guided writing with Amy Spies.

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. Reuben “Tihi” Hayslett uses short fiction, including his volume of short stories Dark Corners, to illuminate the ways we can be marginalized as well as how we can fight back and lose some virtue in the process. Alex 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.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022 | 6:00 p.m. 

WeHo Reads: Expansive Vistas and Hidden Corners

We examine our surroundings and find joy in searching the city with Lynell George and Marisela Norte.

Do we take note of our surroundings as they shape-shift around us? How do we remember places that vanish? How do we preserve memories as fragile as morning fog?

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. 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. Together, they will explore hidden corners of Los Angeles and the poetry of the city in images and text.

BookSwell will organize a photography contest based on prompts provided by the authors.

Wednesday, October 5, 2022 | 6:00 p.m. |

WeHo Reads: Poets Laureate Across America

In 2020, the Academy of American Poets awarded over $1 million to 23 poets laureate as part of a year-long Fellowship to support their creative and organizing work. One of these awards went to our West Hollywood City Poet Laureate Brian Sonia-Wallace who also serves as this event’s host. This reading brings together a group of these Fellows from across the country in the aftermath of their Fellowships to share what they did, read their writing, and reflect on the state of poetry across the United States. Readers include:

  • Semaj Brown, Poet Laureate of Flint, MI
  • Magdalena Gomez, Poet Laureate of Springfield, MA
  • Chastity Gunn, Poet Laureate of Elgin, IL
  • Luisa Igloria, Poet Laureate of Virginia
  • Georgina Marie, Poet Laureate of Lake County, CA
  • Lloyd Schwartz, Poet Laureate of Somerville, MA
  • Hosted by: West Hollywood City Poet Laureate Brian Sonia-Wallace

Tuesday, November 15, 2022 | 6:00 p.m. 

WeHo Reads: Light in Our Hearts

Our journey’s last step leads us toward light with bridgette bianca, Cassandra Lane, and traci kato-kiriyama and closing remarks from Shonda Buchanan.

The culminating event in the series will bring together poets, writers, and artists who live and create at the intersection of joy and hope and reckoning with pain.

bridgette bianca is a poet and educator from South Central Los Angeles. Her debut book of poetry, be/trouble (Writ Large Press, 2020), is a powerful love letter to oft-overlooked Los Angeles, one that offers as much danger as it does glamour and as much grit as beauty. traci kato-kiriyama is a multi-disciplinary artist, writer/author, actor, arts educator & community organizer. Her recently published book from Writ Large Press, Navigating With(out) Instruments, is a collection of poetics, micro essays, and notes to self (and other)—a journey of several years, navigating through death moments, past/present tensions of war and violence, trauma and ideation, excavation and memory. Cassandra Lane is a writer and editor based in Los Angeles. Her first book, WE ARE BRIDGES: A Memoir (Feminist Press, April 2021), weaves personal and historical geographies, lineages, upbringings, and upheavals into a complete tapestry, validating her glorious existence as a Black mother.


Tuesday, January 25, 2022 | 6:00 p.m.

WeHo Reads: Songs and Signs of Hope and Healing 

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 with a media partnership with the Los Angeles Review of Books.

RSVP: https://bit.ly/WeHoReadsJan22  

Wednesday, February 16, 2022 | 6:00 p.m.

WeHo Reads: Justice and Resilience | A Journey in Poetry

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.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022 | 6:00 p.m.



Black Indian (Made in Michigan Writers) By Shonda Buchanan Cover Image
ISBN: 9780814345801
Availability: Usually arrives at our store within 4-7 days
Published: Wayne State University Press - August 26th, 2019

Fretwork: Poems By Lynne Thompson Cover Image
Email or call for price
ISBN: 9780996991155
Published: Marsh Hawk Press - February 7th, 2019

Posada: Offerings of Witness and Refuge By Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo Cover Image
ISBN: 9781939675422
Availability: Usually arrives at our store within 4-7 days
Published: Sundress Publications - October 15th, 2016

Gathering: A Women Who Submit Anthology By Tisha Marie Reichle-Aguilera (Editor) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781733241540
Availability: Usually arrives at our store within 4-7 days
Published: Jamii Publishing - November 15th, 2021

Light From Uncommon Stars By Ryka Aoki Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250789068
Availability: Usually arrives at our store within 4-7 days
Published: Tor Books - September 28th, 2021

Deep Wheel Orcadia: A Novel By Harry Josephine Giles Cover Image
ISBN: 9781529066609
Availability: Special Order - Please Call the Store to Verify
Published: Picador UK - October 14th, 2021

What Storm, What Thunder By Myriam JA Chancy Cover Image
ISBN: 9781951142766
Availability: Usually arrives at our store within 4-7 days
Published: Tin House Books - October 5th, 2021

I Asked the Blue Heron By Lisbeth Coiman Cover Image
ISBN: 9780999081204
Availability: Usually arrives at our store within 4-7 days
Published: Lisbeth Coiman - September 17th, 2017

Uprising / Alzamiento By Lisbeth Coiman Cover Image
ISBN: 9781646625192
Availability: Usually arrives at our store within 4-7 days
Published: Finishing Line Press - August 20th, 2021

Black Wings By Sehba Sarwar Cover Image
ISBN: 9781949776003
Availability: Special Order - Please Call the Store to Verify
Published: Veliz Books - February 1st, 2019

Dark Corners By Reuben Tihi Hayslett Cover Image
ISBN: 9781947041226
Availability: Special Order - Please Call the Store to Verify
Published: Running Wild Press - February 1st, 2019

The Atmospherians: A Novel By Alex McElroy Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982158309
Availability: Special Order - Please Call the Store to Verify
Published: Atria Books - May 18th, 2021

Image Control: Art, Fascism, and the Right to Resist By Patrick Nathan Cover Image
ISBN: 9781640094536
Availability: Special Order - Please Call the Store to Verify
Published: Counterpoint - August 17th, 2021

Some Hell: A Novel By Patrick Nathan Cover Image
ISBN: 9781555977986
Availability: Special Order - Please Call the Store to Verify
Published: Graywolf Press - February 13th, 2018

After/Image: Los Angeles Outside the Frame By Lynell George Cover Image
ISBN: 9781626400535
Availability: Special Order - Please Call the Store to Verify
Published: Angel City Press - March 3rd, 2018

A Handful of Earth, a Handful of Sky: The World of Octavia Butler By Lynell George Cover Image
ISBN: 9781626400634
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Angel City Press - October 20th, 2020

be/trouble By Bridgette Bianca Cover Image
ISBN: 9781951628017
Availability: Usually arrives at our store within 4-7 days
Published: Writ Large Press - February 15th, 2020

Navigating With(out) Instruments By Traci Kato-Kiriyama Cover Image
ISBN: 9781951628000
Availability: Usually arrives at our store within 4-7 days
Published: Writ Large Press - December 1st, 2021

We Are Bridges: A Memoir By Cassandra Lane Cover Image
ISBN: 9781952177927
Availability: Usually arrives at our store within 4-7 days
Published: Feminist Press - April 20th, 2021