Since my move to L.A. last winter, I’ve felt an insistent pulse of community in writing and poetry through the PEN USA EV Fellowship, local workshops and spaces.
The World Stage in Leimert Park is one such space that encompasses community, where writers are able to take risks and receive feedback on new work, listen to a featured reader’s work, and participate in an open mic. Unlike most open mics I’ve attended, The World Stage sets a time limit and features a “No Bullshit” sign hanging in front of the podium — a picture of a bull shitting with an X through it.
Last night, I was a featured reader, clocking in at 30 minutes and around 12 poems — definitely my longest reading yet. The crowd was small, but intimate; lots of regulars who’ve been writing, workshopping and performing at The World Stage for years. I read the Aswang poems, of course, poems from Suzanne Lummis’ class, a few from the old chapbook. It was cool to read a variety of work, since I’ve been focused on reading and performing the Aswang stuff for a while now.
Community spaces are important, and to echo something Barbara Jane Reyes wrote in her blog, regarding these spaces, it’s not about being safe, but the ability to take risks in that space with other writers. I found that at The World Stage, and I’m excited to continue looking for more of these literary venues in LA., in addition to creating my own with the EV Fellows post-EV.