UPTOWN WORD Reading Series to Promote Literacy, Community, Art in Uptown Long Beach • Long Beach Post


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UPTOWN WORD Reading Series announced today that four published writers and poets will speak at the first-ever UPTOWN WORD event to take place on Sunday, August 30 from 2:00PM to 4:00PM at the Uptown Business District offices. 

In an effort to promote literacy, enliven the arts scene and engage the local community in Uptown Long Beach, UPTOWN WORD was created as a free event to showcase prolific and published creative writers and poets, and to let the community participate, too.

Long Beach local liz gonzález’ original idea was to facilitate creative and essay-writing workshops for young adults and teens, yet found there was little interest from the community members she reached out to, so she placed that idea on the backburner. However, she was still looking for a way to give back and create an active arts scene in the Uptown area, just north of Bixby Knolls.

“We have fine writers, musicians, visual artists and other types of artists living here, but we don’t have a place to gather,” she said.

Then, according to the writer, during the August 6 panel meeting for the Arts Council for Long Beach’s Professional Artist Fellowship, she realized that having public readings featuring published writers, with an open mic, could promote literacy and engage more residents in the arts.

“The next day, I went to Councilmember Austin’s office, but it was closed,” she said. “So, I tried the Uptown Business District next door. I didn’t know if they could help me, but I proposed my idea to Sean Duren, the Executive Director, and he said he wanted to do it. Serendipity!”

The featured writers at UPTOWN WORD on August 30 are from Long Beach or have ties to Long Beach, she says. Ángel García, who grew up primarily in Long Beach, has had poems published in The American Poetry Review, McSweeney’s, Miramar, San Pedro River Review, Verdad Magazine, and Connotation Press, among others. Olga García Echeverría is the author of Falling Angels: Cuentos y Poemas, while her work appears in Lavandería: A Mixed Load of Women, Wash, and Words, Telling Tongues: A Latin Anthology on Language.

Keayva Mitchell is a 22-year-old Long Beach resident whose poetry appears in Cadence Collective and is a monthly guest blogger for The Poetry Lab. Mike Sonksen, also known as Mike the Poet, has published over 500 essays and poems since his graduation from UCLA in 1997.

There will also be a sign up sheet for those interested in performing during the open mic portion of the event. Readers are asked to please rehearse and time their stage presence to four minutes or less.

gonzález told the Post that she hopes UPTOWN WORD “will inspire folks of all ages and backgrounds in the community and beyond to get active in the arts, learn about the arts, and give expressing themselves through art, in whatever medium, a try.”

She added that she hopes the event, the next to take place on September 20, will encourage different types of artists in the community to learn about each other.

Although the event is free, donations will be accepted to assist in the funding of gonzález’ initial desire, to lead writing workshops for young people as well as those heading to college in their near futures.

The Uptown Business District office is located at 5643 Atlantic Avenue. For more information, visit the Facebook event page here. For more information about Uptown Business District, click here or liz gonzález’ writing background, click here.

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Asia Morris is a Long Beach native covering arts and culture for the Long Beach Post. You can reach her @hugelandmass on Twitter and Instagram and at [email protected].

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