WeHo to celebrate National Poetry Month in April

Independent Staff Report

WEST HOLLYWOOD — The city will observe National Poetry Month in April with a variety of events and exhibitions honoring poets and art of poetry.

Throughout the month of April, the city will honor living poets by featuring selections of their poetry on street pole banners along Santa Monica Boulevard. There are currently 43 poets honored, and each year the city poet laureate selects two additional poets to honor. This year’s honorees are Ryka Aoki and Tommy Pico, with an additional banner honoring Poet Laureate Brian Sonia-Wallace this year.

Aoki is author of “Seasonal Velocities,” “He Mele a Hilo (A Hilo Song),” “Why Dust Shall Never Settle Upon This Soul,” “The Great Space Adventure,” and the forthcoming “Light from Uncommon Stars.” She is a two-time Lambda Award finalist and winner of the Eli Coppola Chapbook Contest, the Corson-Bishop Poetry Prize and a University Award from the Academy of American Poets.

Aoki also is the founder of the International Transgender Martial Arts Alliance and executive director of Dissonance Press and the after-school programs at Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center in Venice.

Tommy “Teebs” Pico is author of the books “IRL,” “Nature Poem,” “Junk” and “Feed.” Originally from the Viejas Indian reservation of the Kumeyaay nation, he now splits his time between Los Angeles and Brooklyn.

He co-curates the reading series “Poets with Attitude,” is poetry editor at Catapult Magazine, writes on the FX show “Reservation Dogs,” and is a contributing editor at Literary Hub.

The City Council issued a commemorative National Poetry Month proclamation April 5.

At 6 p.m. April 14 Sonia-Wallace will bring together poets near and far for an exploration of thresholds in language, gender, generation and geography. Featured poets include Terry Wolverton, Alyesha Wise-Hernandez, féi hernandez, Alan Pelaez Lopez and Harry Giles.

On Fridays and Saturdays throughout the month, wGreenway Arts Alliance will present the annual L.A. Get Down Festival, a celebration of hip hop and spoken word, presented in association with Da Poetry Lounge. Most events are $10.  For tickets and information, visit http://greenwaycourttheatre.org/lagetdown2021.

The city began its poet laureate program in 2014, with each poet serving for a two-year term. The poet laureate serves as an ambassador of the city’s literary culture and leads the promotion of poetry in the city, including assisting with its annual celebration of National Poetry Month.

Brian Sonia-Wallace began his appointment in October . He has been writing poems for strangers and neighbors on the streets of West Hollywood since the WeHo Reads 2014 season. 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.

He teaches creative writing through the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program.