On Wednesday, April 26, 2023 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., as part of the City of West Hollywood’s WeHo Reads series and annual celebration of National Poetry Month, there will be Lounging With Poets, the first West Hollywood poetry ‘spa day’ and reading. Members of the public are invited to ‘lounge with a poet’ at the Respite Deck of the new West Hollywood Aquatic and Recreation Center, located at 8750 El Tovar Place, West Hollywood, CA. From 6 p.m. to 7:25 p.m., guests will receive a menu of ‘poetry spa services’ to have individual and small group experiences with poets, ranging from fengshui balancing, to cucumber poetry facials, to chakra alignment. At 7:30 p.m., join the City for a sunset reading where we will hear poetry spa poets share their words in a ritual closing and celebration of National Poetry Month. The event is free to attend and light refreshments will be served. RSVPs are requested at www.weho.org/wehoreads.
After the event, from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., there will be an informal happy-hour meet-up at Beaches WeHo, located at 8928 Santa Monica Boulevard, where community members can reflect on their poetry spa day experiences and converse with the poets involved.
Poets participating at the WeHo Reads: Lounging With Poets event and their poetry spa day activity include:
Brian Sonia-Wallace presents Poetry Facials – Sonia-Wallace is the current West Hollywood City Poet Laureate and event emcee and organizer. He is the author of the memoir The Poetry of Strangers (Harper Collins, 2020). His other publications include the chapbook, I sold these poems, now I want them back (Yak Press, 2016), a chapter on poetry-as-placemaking for Art & The City (Routledge, 2018), and writing in The Guardian, LitHub, and Rolling Stone. In 2019, he received a City of West Hollywood “One City One Pride” Arts Grant to create Pride Poets, a project that brought poets on typewriters to the streets of West Hollywood to create more than 700 original works based on one-on-one interactions. In 2021, in his role as West Hollywood City Poet Laureate, he was selected as one of the Poets Laureate Fellowship recipients by the Academy of American Poets which provided $50,000 to support literary work and a civic project, for which Brian partnered with APLA Health, the HIV service organization.
Steven Reigns presents Feel Yourself – Reigns was the first West Hollywood City Poet Laureate; he is a poet and educator whose newest book A Quilt for David (City Lights, 2021) is the product of ten years of research regarding dentist David Acer’s life. When he was West Hollywood City Poet Laureate he inaugurated the annual Poetry Month Street Pole Banner program.
Kim Dower presents Comfort & Terrify – Dower was the second West Hollywood City Poet Laureate, and has published four acclaimed collections of poetry, including the Gold Ippy Award winning collection Sunbathing on Tyrone Power’s Grave. She has been nominated for four Pushcarts, is widely anthologized, and teaches writing workshops for Antioch University, the West Hollywood Library, and UCLA Extension Writers’ Program. When she was West Hollywood City Poet Laureate she created the collaborative Citywide Poem I Sing the Body West Hollywood.
Charles Flowers presents Full Body Surrender – Flowers was the third West Hollywood City Poet Laureate; he graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Vanderbilt University and received his MFA in Poetry from the University of Oregon. His poems have appeared in Puerto Del Sol, Barrow Street, Gulf Coast, Indiana Review, and Assaracus.
Jen Cheng presents Fengshui Balance – Cheng is a founding member of the Pride Poets team which was created as a City of West Hollywood “One City One Pride” Arts Grant funded project. Since falling in love with the art of typewriter poetry, Jen has a collection of dog humor poems and enjoys writing for birthday parties, corporate events, and other LGBTQ events.
Linda Ravenswood presents Relax, Man – Ravenswood is the 2022 Edwin Markham Prize in Poetry recipient and the founding Editor in Chief of The Los Angeles Press. A 2022 Oxford Poetry Prize winner, Linda is published by Eyewear London / The Black Spring Press Group (January 2023) and FlowerSong Press (forthcoming 2023).
One week after the poetry spa day, there will be another WeHo Reads event on Wednesday, May 3, 2023, at 7 p.m. which takes place online, titled WeHo Reads: Shaping Motherhood. In this event, we’ll consider motherhood – its joys, hardships, challenges, graces – and the role they play in shaping ourselves and future generations. Amber Flame is an interdisciplinary creative, activist and educator whose work has garnered residencies with Hedgebrook, Vermont Studio Center, and more. Gerda Govine Ituarte, Ed.D., poet, art curator, columnist, and CEO of G. Govine Consulting, was born in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, and emigrated to New York City in the mid 50s and California in the early 80s. Luivette Resto is a mother, teacher, poet, and Wonder Woman fan who was born in Puerto Rico but proudly raised in the Bronx. Carla Sameth, 2022-2024 Altadena co-poet laureate, is the author of the memoir One Day on the Gold Line and the poetry chapbook, What Is Left, and teaches creative writing to a variety of ages. Colette Sartor’s linked short story collection, Once Removed, won the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, the NYC Big Book Award for Short Story Collections, and the Juror’s Choice Award, and the Short Stories Award from the National Indie Excellence Awards. This online event will take place on the City of West Hollywood’s WeHo Arts YouTube Channel at www.youtube.com/wehoarts. Members of the public can RSVP and be sent a direct link to view the event by visiting the WeHo Reads webpage on the City’s website at www.weho.org/wehoreads.
WeHo Reads is the City of West Hollywood’s literary series presenting authors of interest to the West Hollywood community since 2013. For additional information about these and past events and to RSVP, visit www.weho.org/wehoreads. WeHo Reads is presented by the City of West Hollywood’s Arts Division and produced by BookSwell, LLC, a literary events and media company dedicated to lifting up writers from historically excluded communities. Additional support for WeHo Reads is provided by UCLA Extension Writers’ Program and Poets & Writers as well as media partnerships with Bookshop.org, Book Soup, and Los Angeles Review of Books.