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.
Category Archive: ISSUES
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.
Nearly two years since lockdown, we have had to readjust again to staying inside, isolation, remote learning and social distancing. However, as this issue illustrates, we remain open to reopening by loving ourselves, our communities, families, friends—and by embracing the absolute necessity for poetry and literature in our everyday lives.
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.
‘We must continue to show up, speak up, be heard and thrive in our joys,’ writes Executive Editor Luivette Resto. ‘This is truly a movement not a moment.’ Read on!
‘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.
For Danielle Broadway, the current moment feels like a suspension of time between victory and destruction, much like in ‘Avengers: Infinity War,’ when Scarlet Witch seemingly stops Thanos and saves the universe. Yet, as she shares in her essay, to be marginalized in America is to know that there’s a chance that Thanos will snap his fingers or, off-screen, that Trump may return with his minions.
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.
As families wrestle with unforeseen stresses and responsibilities during the Covid-19 pandemic, a writer revisits her son’s early years—and the uncertainties of parenting through trauma.
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.
With worry and pride in her heart, Rhonda Mitchell watches her daughter—the little girl she once told to ‘be a leader’—head out to a Black Lives Matter protest. Exploring generational differences and attitudes toward racism, she finds hope through the eyes of her Gen-Zer.
Writing with fury and grace, Stephanie Zhong both reports on and protects herself from the rise of anti-Asian racism during the Covid-19 pandemic. She finds refuge at the 99 Ranch grocery store, a safe haven from what she describes as ‘the other pandemic.’
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.
A selection of contributions from participants in our ‘Homebound Heroes’ workshop, with a focus on self-acceptance, self-care and imagination, reveals the power and magic of coming together as a virtual writing community and supporting others during this time of imposed isolation.
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.
In this tour-de-force debut essay, a daughter and mother circle each other, their grief unspoken. As pain creates wildly varying interpretations of reality, even the imaginary sound of a crying animal is cause for blame.
A sleepless searcher discovers what she’s really looking for while late-night cyberstalking her past loves.
Losing her job during the pandemic opens new doors for one writer on a revived, post-divorce career path.
On their honeymoon, Grace Marvin’s grandparents came to Los Angeles and never left. In her essay, she examines her family’s California origin story, how history is passed on from generation to generation and the deep roots planted in the place where we grow up.
A recent move to an industrial park upholstery shop in Ventura County from an affluent neighborhood nearby makes one writer feel a bit out of place, like when she moved abroad years ago. But there’s also familiarity as her map expands.
Matchmaking mishaps and a pandemic challenge a single’s resolution to make 2020 the year of yes.
Authors and publishers, writers and readers: We want to hear from you about your new books, reading lists, and writing reflections on how you’re coping (or struggling). Now more than ever, the world needs words that matter. Be kind, stay safe, read and write on.
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.
Outrage turned to action when authors, including Roxane Gay, Myriam Gurba and Wendy C. Ortiz, gathered at #Dignidadliteraria to demand increased Latinx representation in the publishing industry.
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.
Writer D.B. Zweier brings us to a dark setting lit only by The Temptations’ “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone.” In his short story, a call in the pre-dawn hours unites two friends, one suffering through years of addiction and trauma and the other who has watched his sad charade again and again.
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.
Through the lens of a cell-phone dating app, Wayne Tan’s experimental short story, “Ontology,” investigates the intersection of longing and regret, technology and humanity, philosophy and the age-old question: Have you ever been in love?