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Sun, Apr 23


Sims Library of Poetry

1619 Speaks In-Person Launch + Reading

Join us in celebrating the launch of "1619 Speaks" -- an anthology of African-American poets. There'll be a reading featuring contributors and books for sale!

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1619 Speaks In-Person Launch + Reading
1619 Speaks In-Person Launch + Reading

Time & Location

Apr 23, 2023, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Sims Library of Poetry, 2702 W Florence Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90043

About the Event

Since August 20, 1619, African American poets have expressed the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of their people’s resilience. The incredible poets included in 1619 Speaks stand on the shoulders of giants, embodying their imagination, inspiration, and investigation.

Our readers:

Flyy High

James coats

Tyren Thompson


Tommy Domino

Jasmine Banks

Aiyana Sha'niel

Hiram Sims

Nadia Hunter Bey

hosted by Woodrow Bailey

Books will be available to purchase and sign.    

About the readers:

flyy high is a first generation, jamaican-american writer and poet, based in los angeles. her passion for writing began early in childhood and continued through her studies at prairie view a&m university and in her work as a former high school teacher. flyy’s poetic influences and inspirations include names such as audre lorde, d’bi young anintafrika, lucille clifton, and staceyann chin. similarly, her work speaks to her journey into  womanhood, encompassing themes such as childhood trauma, healing, and liberation. she hopes to provoke thought and lead others to taking inspired action, directed towards becoming the best version of themselves, via self awareness, discovery, and daily consciousness practices. she is currently working on her first collection of poetry called metamorphosis, set to release in 2023. to keep up with her, follow her on instagram @flyyhigh2wise.

James Coats is an author, poet, and educator born in Los Angeles and raised in the Inland Empire. He received his BFA from Cal Poly Pomona and his MBA from Cal State San Bernardino. As a creative change agent he believes the arts can inspire the youth and influence positive change in the world. His first poetry collection If I had Lived was published in 2018. He is the winner of the 2021 San Gabriel Poetry Slam. In 2021 he founded the organization Lift Our Voices Education which hosts an award winning workshop monthly called Be The Change: Social Justice Writing Workshop. He became the Artist in Residence at The Garcia Center for the Arts in 2022. His newest poetry collection Midnight & Mad Dreams is published by World Stage Press. You can find him attending poetry readings throughout California or follow his poetry via his Instagram @MrLovingWords.

Tyren Thompson is a Los Angeles, California based poet who studies cultures and the people who make them exciting - then write about it! His previous work has been featured in the Rise Up Review, Rigorous Magazine, and the George Floyd Poetry Anthology. When he is not writing, he is a resourceful human behind a computer screen. Some of his work is shared on Instagram @_TyWriter.

Tekira Briscoe is a blogger and poet who believes in the power of the written word. She began her journey in poetry by reading Maya Angelou books and now dreams of being a respected writer and poet. Her biggest accomplishment to date has been completing her first poetry collection which will be released in 2022. Tekira lives in Los Angeles with her devoted husband, Kim, and homeschools her two kids, Micah and Aniyah. To keep up with Tekira and her upcoming book, you can follow her @naturallkira.

Tommy Domino is a member of the Stillwater’s Writers Collective, the Watts Writers Workshop II, and poetry collective Never Speak Long Beach. In 2022, he was Community Literature Initiative's Teacher of the Year.

Jasmine Banks is a career educator, encourager, and self-proclaimed thought partner. Every day she makes a choice. A choice to make a priority of investing in herself and her community. Her purpose in life is to encourage other BIPOC to do the same for themselves through her servitude, actions, and ultimately with her shared personal journey of self-love and empowerment in her poetry. Jasmine resides and leads in South Los Angeles. In her free time, Jasmine enjoys basking in nature, writing, spending time with loved ones, and taking on rigorous physical challenges.

Aiyana Sha’niel is a 20 year old Black poet born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She has been writing for over seven years, beginning at Hamilton High School, where she wrote on the school’s poetry team, Hamlit, and competed in Get-Lit competitions from 2017-2020. She was Poetry Out Loud 2020 County representative for Los Angeles and placed second in the State competition. Sha’niel was also the Youth Poet Representative for the LA Arts Recover Fund Donors Banquet at the Getty Museum. She hosted an open mic in collaboration with Nate Davis, The BackYart Show from 2018 to the beginning of the pandemic. She now works at Street Poets Inc. as a teaching artist. She is a 2021 graduate of the Community Literature Initiative program (CLI). She culminated from the program at 18 years old, with her own full body of work. Sha’niel signed to World Stage Press and released her first collection of poems, Little Black Poetry Book, on September 25th, 2022.

Born and raised in various parts of South Los Angeles, Hiram Sims is a poet, author and Creative Writing Professor teaching at The Los Angeles Film School, USC, and with The Community Literature Initiative. He graduated from the University of Southern California and received a B.A. in English: Creative Writing and a Masters of Professional Writing in Poetry. He has published three collections of poetry, including Poems of a Young, Troubled Mind (2007), Write or Die: An Anthology of Poetry from the Urban Poet's Workshop (2008), and PHOTOETRY: Poetry and Photography from South Central (2013).

About the host:

Woodrow Bailey was born in New Orleans and raised in South Central Los Angeles and from the time he could pick up a pencil to put his ideas on paper he has explored his environment. Every aspect of his life has been a canvas to create his vision of his surroundings. His main thrust is to represent those with no voice or choice in this society. Woodrow Bailey’s philanthropy, his professional career, his writing with filmmaking has given a window to open toward the neglect that his neighborhood has experienced. As that neighborhood continues to suffer that ongoing film he sees brings his writing to an awareness few have witnessed. “I probe my environment for answers to questions long ignored or overlooked.” His education did not allow him to turn his back but build bridges going forward. These lessons fuels what he stands for: Peace and Faith.

This project was made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in 1619 Speaks do not necessarily represent those of California Humanities or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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