As you may or may not know – the Literary Pixie is back in LA. I tried when I first graduated in 2016 to make Los Angeles my literary home, but alas, London called to me. Last time I tried to get involved, I found it really challenging.
The film and entertainment industry dominates Los Angeles. People move to LA to become a famous actress, director, or screenwriter. They don’t move to LA to be a poet or working in publishing. That’s why you go to New York. Yet, there is a small, yet loving literary community in Los Angeles and thankfully Poets & Writers has an office here working to help it blossom.
I attended the Poets & Writers roundtable hoping to connect with organizers and find out about what was going on in LA. The roundtable did just that! The meeting took place at The World Stage Centre. When I saw how far it was and the time – 5pm in East LA, that’s gonna take hours! – I nearly didn’t go. I’m so glad I did. The World Stage is a truly inspiring creative space doing very important work. They run workshops, events, and even have a press! I felt a bit nervous there, as there was a street sign that said, “NO Cruising” and a woman with a glass of wine at 4:45pm shouted at me from my balcony to move my car, but once inside the Centre I felt warm and welcome. The World Stage is truly a beating heart in Leimert Park neighborhood.
Upon arriving, we nibbled and networked until we began the roundtable. The event was incredibly inclusive. We went round in a circle sharing our names, what we wrote, and what organizations we represented. Then Jamie (West Coast Director) introduced the work that Poets & Writers does including some fantastic grants to help pay poets & writers! Definitely jotted that done.
For each roundtable, there is a spotlight on someone who is doing great work for the literary community. Hiram Sims was the speaker, and boy was he inspiring! I felt like my literary fangirl tingle as he shared all the work he has done: launching the Community Literature Initiative that supports poets and writers in a year long course with a guaranteed book deal at the end, running the press at the World Stage Center, and starting the Sims Poetry Library on Western & 46th. I know! There is a poetry library in Los Angeles! Finallyyyyyyyy. I’m totes getting involved.
After that, we shared events we were working on and services we could offer before finishing up in time for the Thursday night Anansi Writers workshop with V. Kali.
I was a bit sad to be the only person under 26 in attendance, as well as the only book blogger and event reviewer. I was glad I was there, as someone was suggesting the benefits of unpaid publishing internships and publishing masters, and I had to speak up! Masters and internships are the reason that publishing is so exclusive and predominantly led by white middle/upper-class people. Yes – I am aware that I am the problem, but I am also the solution! At least I’m trying to be.
I wish there were more resources to support people my age to get involved, as well as other emerging writers of all ages. I have met so many fantastic writers and know that I am not the only person my age who calls themselves a poet or writer in Los Angeles! How can we help get them here in this room and organizing.
Overall it was a really informative evening that really helped me connect with the Los Angeles literary community. I can’t wait to meet up with the great people I met and discuss ways to get involved, as well as books/events to review! Thanks, P&W for organizing a supportive and provoking event!