Author, educator and poet Mike Sonksen reflects on the solace provided by public art, books and the creative community in L.A. during a dark time in our world.
Puerto-Rico-to-the Bronx-to-L.A. poet Luivette Resto’s new poetry collection is a fierce celebration of where she has been–and who she is, from her ancestors to daughter, mother, poet, lover. An excerpt of two poems from her acclaimed and celebrated collection.
Ruthie Marlenée’s new, acclaimed novel, AGAVE BLUES, presents readers with a strong sense of place—in both Mexico and Los Angeles—and a strong-willed female protagonist. The book is a gripping family saga and lesson in transformation. An excerpt, plus a conversation with AFLW’s Lillian Ann Slugocki and the author on her inspiration–and magic in her writing process.
Natashia Deón’s latest novel, THE PERISHING, is a love letter to time, space and the transformative stories of Black women. This coming-of-age speculative fiction book delves into L.A. history, racism, sexism, fantasy and humanity. An excerpt, plus a Q&A with the author and AFLW’s Danielle Broadway on the novel’s runaway success.
A new poem by Los Angeles Poet Laureate Lynne Thompson darkly illuminates our need for a restart in our city, and in our world.
Pete Hsu’s new, experimental fiction chapbook, THERE IS A MAN, bends reality at the intersection of satire, family drama and ’80s alternative rock. An excerpt, plus a Q&A with the author and PEN America Emerging Voices Fellow Chinyere Nwodim on writing, reading and the value of unconventional choices.
‘The biggest challenge we are living now—during the worst pandemic in 100 years—is to stretch the collective imaginations to the creative means needed to overcome the current economic and political crisis,’ writes former Los Angeles Poet Laureate Luis J. Rodriquez in his Letter to L.A.
‘Better to not know what hanged me.’ A preview of Cassandra Lane’s poignant, potent and exquisitely crafted forthcoming memoir, discovering her mysterious and painful family past and reflecting on what it means to be a Black mother, with an introduction by F. Douglas Brown.
Through an imagined affair between his grandfather and Lucille Ball, bestselling author Darin Strauss shines a spotlight on the dualities of desire and love, infidelity and marriage, fiction and reality–and traces the ongoing impact of the revolutionary ‘I Love Lucy’ star and studio mogul.
Twenty years after its original publication, Deanne Stillman’s California cult classic, TWENTYNINE PALMS, is even more relevant and has just been optioned. A look back at an epic true tale of murder, Marines and the Mojave, plus a Q&A examining the book’s place in our cultural landscape.
‘Gossip Girl’ meets ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ in this dramatic debut YA novel about a group of friends at a prep school in an affluent L.A. suburb. An excerpt plus Q&A revealing how the title touches on issues of Asian-American profiling, class and privilege that we are reckoning with in the U.S. today.
In the wake of the pandemic, arts organizations have been hard hit, including L.A.’s Beyond Baroque. A conversation between Executive Director Quentin Ring and board VP Shonda Buchanan on how the literary home to inaugural poet Amanda Gorman has survived in the age of Covid-19 and continued to break barriers for creatives in Los Angeles.
‘Your name is not / an apology, the sound kowtowing / to ears accustomed to Jennifers / and Debbies. You are a namesake / for a temple rising / in the Chao Phraya River / face to the morning sun. Your name / is mantra, meant for repetition.’ A poem in tribute to Vice-President Kamala Harris and to girls and women like her with names that are hard to pronounce and mean so much by Aruni Wijesinghe.
‘Are we not deserving of nice things? / Twenty families in search for more / The neighbors kick in the door / The glass cuts through skin pores / California Highway Patrol rolls in with hogties & roars.’ Poet and activist Iris De Anda reminds us that housing rights are human rights, as movements in L.A. fight for fair and just shelter while home and rental prices increase. Her words reclaim the land we stand on.
In her new collection, Colette Sartor delves into her generations of influence, from her strong, smart and ‘difficult’ Grandma Sartor to her mother’s bookshelf of true crime and horror. An excerpt plus Q&A with the author on writing craft and pandemic survival, past and present.
PEN America Emerging Voices alumna Parnaz Foroutan’s new memoir explores identity, belonging and desire. An excerpt plus Q&A with the author on writing memoir, underrepresented voices, finding home and more.
In her latest book, bestselling author Angella Nazarian chronicles and celebrates 15 iconic couples who’ve made an impact in our world. An excerpt and Q&A with the author give a glimpse into potent pairs and insights into how lessons from their partnerships can guide us during this time of uncertainty.
The poets in this issue remind us that we are still writing, painting, critiquing, thinking, singing and creating. Miriam Schweiger chronicles the new apart-but-together way of life, and Solvej Schou draws from personal and historical events, which parallel today’s.
In an excerpt from his new collection, Brian Sonia-Wallace writes about the weekend before Mother’s Day at Macy’s from a hired poet’s perspective, capturing complexities of the mother-child relationship as credit cards are swiped.
In two poems from his new collection, David A. Romero pays homage to uncles who paint cars and grandfathers who just want more time.
Participants from around the country and the globe in our ‘Journaling Through Catastrophe’ workshop share their interpretations of the “new normal” and their perspectives of a world that is paradoxically familiar but also very strange.
With a nod to magical realism, Tess Sullivan beckons us to join her on a provocative, imaginative journey. From her crowded street in Hollywood she walks to a steep set of stairs, where she looks up at a world of hillside mansions, wondering what those above think of the dwellers below facing Covid-19 hardships.
THE PRETTY ONE, the celebrated, new essay collection by first-time author and #DisabledAndCute founder Keah Brown, is powerful guide for change. An excerpt, plus Q&A with the author on writing, Roxane Gay, pop culture, coming out, goal-setting and more.
In this emotive short story by Luis Garcia Romero, we dive headlong into a world of impenetrable secrets and deep memories trapped in the recesses of the heavy hearts of a wife and husband.
Mei Mei Sun’s lyrical essay explodes in a torrent of feelings about the beauty, fragility and brutality of love. New to L.A., she’s uncertain about her love for this city until she realizes the Pacific Ocean connects her upbringing in Shenyang, China, to this place she is still getting to know. And yet. Love may be very close to home.
New works by YA poets on depression, sea cucumbers, millennials and standing up to authority are feisty and unapologetically vulnerable.
Jonathan Blum’s anticipated collection, THE USUAL UNCERTAINTIES, is a glorious offering of stories in a range of settings from L.A.’s Koreatown to a South Florida country club. An excerpt, plus Q&A with translator Breanna Chia.
Adam Popescu’s debut novel, NIMA, tells the story of a young Sherpa woman’s journey through the many challenges of her world: an exploitive Western tourism industry, strict gender restrictions & the implacable presence of the Himalayas. An excerpt, followed by Q&A between the author & writer D.B. Zweier.
As he honors the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., L.A.-native Mark Eckhardt details how he has been a target of racist incidents in his own neighborhood since the election of President Trump, and encourages all of us to find the courage to confront the resurgence of bigotry, to live according to the dreams of Dr. King.
In YOUR HOUSE WILL PAY, Steph Cha brings her formidable crime-writing prowess to the aftermath of racially charged 90s’ Los Angeles. The result is a page-turning thriller driven by honesty, tension and an unyielding willingness to speak the emotional experience of its characters.
Gorgeous and richly layered, Shonda Buchanan’s memoir, BLACK INDIAN, examines what it means to be African American and American Indian, as the author rewinds time to uncover the origins of her dual heritage–almost lost forever–hidden among family secrets, grievances and long-ago deaths.
THE LAGER QUEEN OF MINNESOTA is J. Ryan Stradal’s anticipated follow-up to his bestselling debut novel, KITCHENS OF THE GREAT MIDWEST. With his signature warmth, detail and exquisitely fine storytelling, Stradal once again delivers a novel worth falling in love with.
The moon is a muse for many poets. In this new collective, a collaboration by GetLit players reminds us how the moon is colonized and objectified, a poet pleads to the moon to make him super for a night and a lover bemoans the finality of loss of his woman under a full moon.
When newlywed David Feinberg’s Tarzana townhouse burned down, he and his wife moved in with her parents. Life with his in-laws forced him to rethink his definition of adulthood while adjusting to awkwardness of sex in his wife’s childhood room, and a rigid set of house rules.
“As we all continue to collectively mourn Toni Morrison, we also collectively pay tribute to the gifts she gave us. Rest in power and poetry,” writes AFLW Associate Poetry Editor Luivette Resto as she shares poems by Angelina Sáenz, Donny Jackson and Jessica Gallion that celebrate Morrison’s memory, beauty and wisdom.
After the loves and betrayals of THE REVOLUTION OF MARINA M., young poet Marina Makarova finds herself pregnant and adrift amid the devastation of the Russian Civil War, forced to survive on her own resourcefulness. A riveting excerpt from Janet Fitch’s latest, acclaimed novel, CHIMES OF A LOST CATHEDRAL, followed by a deeply thoughtful Q&A on her process with writing group partner and friend, author Rita Williams.
Chris L. Terry’s new, acclaimed novel, BLACK CARD, presents a stirring examination of racial identity in America as its unnamed narrator is a young, mixed-race man who longs to earn his “black card,” but soon finds it comes with an acute and systemic vulnerability to racism. An excerpt, followed by a Q&A between the author and AFLW Fiction Editor Pete Hsu.
Through meditations on race, culture and family, Carla Rachel Sameth’s debut, ONE DAY ON THE GOLD LINE: A MEMOIR IN ESSAYS, tells the story of a lesbian Jewish single mother raising a black son in Los Angeles. Through her moving essays, she examines life’s surprising changes that come through choice or circumstance, often seemingly out of nowhere, and sometimes darkly humorous. An excerpt from her celebrated, new book release.
David Lynch’s premiere of Twin Peaks at the Ace Hotel provides the setting for a wry, observant glimpse into the superficial, glitzy aspects of Los Angeles. That is until a chance encounter downtown at Clifton’s flings frivolity to the wind as life’s fragility zooms into sharp focus.
In her new memoir, writer and criminal defense attorney Karen Stefano, shares the gripping story of how a young woman persevered after a violent sexual assault, ultimately regaining her strength and sense of freedom she had lost.
Acclaimed YA novelist Lilliam Rivera creates an intricate dystopian world in her new novel, where fierce Latina girl gangs rule in order to survive.
Maria Hummel delves into L.A.’s art world, a sordid place of vice, provocation, violence and, yes, mystery in her novel, now in paperback.
East-Coast transplant and writer Marnie Goodfriend has an “it’s complicated” relationship with L.A.’s elusive passage of time, and considers the notion of idleness as a luxury item.
In his new book of poems and essays, Mike Sonksen explores and examines Los Angeles as well as its people, neighborhoods, culture and history over generations. It’s both an up-close view and one from 35,000 feet floating above the geography and the psychology of the city.
Of African American, Eastern European Jewish and Muscogee Creek Native American descent, Gina Loring alchemizes sociopolitical issues into art. For the final day of National Poetry Month, we are proud to publish her recent works, celebrating multi-ethnic heritage, female empowerment and poetry changing the world.
THIS IS (NOT) L.A. by Jen Bilik is a love letter to Los Angeles, and an essential reality check and debunker of false myths about the city. An excerpt of the most L.A. and un-L.A. guide, including a foreword by the late Jonathan Gold.
Arminé Iknadossian’s latest collection of poetry potently explores the many facets of being a woman, including ambiguity, lover and warrior.
In his recently released novel, PORTRAIT OF SEBASTIAN KHAN, writer Aatif Rashid creates a uniquely compelling modern Muslim-American coming-of-age story and a new POC narrative.
What do you do when everything in your life is touched by waves of anxiety, when the simplest thing in your routine provokes debilitating panic attacks? Writer Andrea Tate shares how she’s overcoming her phobias to find a way out of fear.
Author Riley Perez went to prison for the robbery and attempted extortion of Joe Francis, the creator of Girls Gone Wild. It was a job he was hired to do by the mob. In WHAT IS REAL, Perez brings the reader into his world, one in which the rules of engagement make sense only to those whose lives depend on it.