The City of West Hollywood’s WeHo Reads series and annual celebration of National Poetry Month capped off with a Lounging With Poets Poetry Spa Day event, which is the first West Hollywood poetry reading at the Respite Deck of the new West Hollywood Aquatic and Recreation Center. The event attracted roughly 50 people who enjoyed “a 5-10 minute poetry treatment for your sore feelings.”
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).
There was a poetry sunset reading where participants heard poetry spa poets share their words in a ritual closing and celebration of National Poetry Month.
Everyone gave Jen Cheng poetry slam happy birthday recital towards the end of the event because she had mentioned that she hated when people sang the Happy Birthday Song.
After the event, it was off for an informal happy-hour meetup at Beaches WeHo, located at 8928 Santa Monica Boulevard. Participants were allowed happy hour drink specials with a WeHo Arts sticker.