WeHo Arts is looking for the next West Hollywood Poet Laureate. Qualified poets with strong connections to West Hollywood are encouraged to apply by April 4, 2023. For more info and to apply visit https://bit.ly/wehopoetlaureate23 .
West Hollywood’s City Poet Laureate highlights the City of West Hollywood through the literary arts and, over a period of time, creates a new body of literary work that commemorates the diversity and vibrancy of the City. He serves as an official ambassador of West Hollywood’s vibrant literary culture, promoting poetry in West Hollywood, stimulating the transformative impact of poetry in the local community, and creating excitement about the written word.
Current Poet Laureate, Brian Sonia-Wallace is the fourth West Hollywood City Poet Laureate from October 2020-2023.
Since WeHo Reads 2014, Brian Sonia-Wallace has been writing poems for strangers and neighbors on the streets of West Hollywood and at City of West Hollywood events. A social practice poet straddling the lines between literature and community engagement, his 2020 debut from Harper Collins, The Poetry of Strangers: What I Learned Traveling America With a Typewriter, was lauded as “full of optimism and wide-eyed wonder” by The New York Times. Brian’s writing has been published in The Guardian and Rolling Stone, and he teaches creative writing through the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program and Get Lit – Words Ignite. In 2019, Brian received a grant from the City of West Hollywood’s One City One Pride LGBTQ Arts Festival (now called the WeHo Pride LGBTQ Arts Festival) to create Pride Poets, a project which brought poets on typewriters to the streets of West Hollywood to create over 700 original works based on one-on-one interactions, and in 2020 brought together over 100 LGBTQ+ poets for virtual shows during the COVID-19 quarantine. Pride Poets has been featured in The Pride and The Advocate, and Brian’s work has additionally been profiled by The New York Times, The Guardian, The Poetry Foundation, NPR, ABC7, and Telemundo. The motto of his company, RENT Poet (as featured on NPR’s How I Built This), is “everyone needs a poem.” Brian also has an intriguing resume of past projects with public interactions, including being Artist-in-Residence or Writer-in-Residence for the Mall of America, Amtrak, Dollar Shave Club, the City of Los Angeles, and Boston Harbor Islands National Park.
In 2021, Brian Sonia-Wallace was selected as one of the recipients of the Poets Laureate Fellowship by the Academy of American Poets in conjunction with his role as West Hollywood City Poet Laureate. The Academy provided each of the 23 Fellows $50,000 each, and more than $100,000 in total to 14 local 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations that have agreed to support the Fellows’ proposed projects, including the local organization Being Alive, which supported Sonia-Wallace’s project.
To learn more about the West Hollywood Poet Laureate program, visit: https://www.weho.org/community/arts-and-culture/literary-arts/city-poet/city-poet-laureate-brian-sonia-wallace.