We begin National Poetry Month with a searing poem written for and read by Shonda Buchanan at our Black Resistance in the Time of Trump event. Her lyrical opening, which she sang, took our breath away and made the room sacred. Her words, full of pain and rage and the truth.
In BEGIN WITH A FAILED BODY, winner of the 2016 Cave Canem Poetry Prize, poet and professor Natalie Graham considers the wounded self trapped between poverty and memory.
They met online on Skype and then in person in Chile. Their connection continued in cyberspace. A tribute to a love outside of time.
On the two-year anniversary of the death of Freddie Gray, after suffering police brutality, laments by Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman.
“The news wraps you in lists, trying to destroy the light of your name,
Waxing moon sliver of light—metaphor for black Baltimore boys?”
For the 20th anniversary of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” poems from a collection by Lisa Cheby, inspired by the cult-popular TV show, explore grief, power and love.
“Dare me to tell you how long I’ve dreamed of you
We’re a love story written in Sanskrit and Aramaic”
“On a map, California looks like she’s hugging the continent
and Nevada is leaning in for a deep kiss.
She is tentative, he is a sharp-tongued,
diamond-studded menace, kissing her
and at the same time, pushing her into the ocean.”
“we’re foolish to not recognize
what can happen when we open
our screen doors to a desperate world”
“His urge began in the mythic land of Florida,
where power surges from the steaming swamp.”
“we, in the eye of the storm,
are a love letter, a prayer
that is more assurance than ask.
‘We will be ok,’ we say, we sing, film it,
play it back over and over”
“Poetry … must be tactless, falling down stairs like a toddler,
slipping into ravines like a dancer on high alert,
forgetting the words but remembering the way. Poetry must be.”
We have been honored to feature an array of tremendous titles from incredibly talented and diverse writers of fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Here are some of our favorites published in the year we now leave behind.
A poet’s reflection on fear, written on 11/9, after the dismaying results of the election.
Prose incantations written pre- and post-election by L.A. poet and author Rich Ferguson. All selections part of his collection in progress, “Everything Is Radiant Between the Hates.”
“I grieve for Los Angeles
Left behind me.
I grieve for Obama’s America
Soon to be gone.”
In his poems, Sergio A. Ortiz explores a range of roiling emotions post-11/9: feelings of longing and regret, resentment stirring at the emerging depravity, and warnings about remaining silent. But there is also hope in resistance: “Listen to how frozen hurricanes emerge from the dew!”
Fifteen years later, we remember 9/11 with a poem written in 2001 in New York by L.A. journalist and musician Solvej Schou, reverberating with the grief, confusion and sadness she felt at the time of the tragedy.
A selection of poems by Lisa Mecham deftly explores the haze of infidelity, deflections that bring us back to ourselves and the anguish of facing a partner’s mental illness.
A searing series of narrative prose poems by Ashaki M. Jackson offer observations from her childhood and document the painful commonness of devaluing Black lives.
The art of Los Angeles isn’t just in our museums, it’s in our murals, our family’s artifacts and where we take cover, as Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo reveals.
Lauren Eggert-Crowe disarms us, brings us closer, unveiling heartbreak and beauty.
Marina Muhlfriedel invites us to shed the past, if just a moment.
The voices in Nikki San Pedro’s poems search for soothing in the chaos of L.A.
Three intense, crafted poems, on love for men and words, from C. Russell Price’s acclaimed new debut, TONIGHT, WE FUCK THE TRAILER PARK OUT OF EACH OTHER.
Karen An-hwei Lee shows us the angels that fly and float through our city. Her assured writing trusts us with the complexities of racism in the judicial system and shows us how far we’ve come and how far we’ll go.
Poetry by Richard King Perkins II evokes the hardship of poverty, the beauty of pleasure and the emptiness of a couple out of sync.
Lydia K. Valentine’s pantoum takes us to the spaces between the spaces.
Ed Ahearn on a child’s wish to fly, and a man’s knowledge of being tethered to earth, for now.
Rachel Toles’ poetry reaches beyond obligations of intimacy.
Mike Sonksen, aka Mike the Poet, tunes into the heartbeat and history of Los Angeles.
“Sometimes you don’t have the touch.
Now the best tenderness is whatever you try
when it’s not enough to say how could you have known.”
Ruth Nolan shows us the layers of our lives and our loves in a roadtrip across the ocean of the desert.
The prose poetry of Andy Lara captures the sights and sounds of the City of Angels, from the buoyant energy of schoolkids to the shuffle of homeless street scavengers.
“When some air’s displaced, other air rushes in. Does one soul’s absence make room for another?”
Brad Rose shows us to the dark of night and dark of soul in the corners and outskirts of our city. His audio recordings of his readings lend a gritty, raw intimacy to his words.
“Cells beget cells
extending into light
drinking photons with the rest
as sugars accumulate
at the ends of buds
ideas rolling into acts
“I’m a hot flash, molten gold
drawing your eye up
from poor and rocky soil
to my perky chocolate brown cones
call me gloriosa daisy
but don’t compare me to
that pale cousin of mine
prey of ambivalent lovers”
“The full moon will slip off my shoes.
The longest day of the year will give way.
You nuzzle my nape under luminescence.
You ran your finger along my forehead,
tucked my bangs behind my ear.
Gravity is a force that draws two bodies.
The axis is about to shift.”
“Los Angeles doesn’t demand your love.
If you don’t understand her, she’ll bow her
head, say ‘Namaste,’ and she’ll rise above.
Not everyone gets her, she’s not bitter.”
“Couple of mothers, aren’t we?
Just look at us,
still breathing strong,
when we swore there wasn’t a chance.”
In Rachel Sona Reed’s meditation on history and loss, a neighborhood’s wartime homes are stripped to their bones.
Every woman knows the memories and meaning that a dress can carry. Saryn Chorney’s poem gathers those ethereal, delicate threads.
Author Joel Harper pens a beautiful allegory about preparing those we love to deal with the adversities of life, and then letting go.
Songs that remind her of Los Angeles filter through a survivor’s reflection on her life and connection to the city.
Two poems on the possibilities of rebirth and motherhood.