Prof. Mike Sonksen has dedicated his writing and teaching career to highlighting Los Angeles’ multiethnic urban fabric. Ever prolific, he recently published three articles, all of which encourage us to pay closer attention to L.A.-based writers of color. A review of Lynell George’s new book on Octavia Butler for BOOM California highlights George’s skilled ability to demystify the “legendary science fiction author by using archival material from the Huntington [Library in San Marino] to meticulously uncover how Butler constructed herself through a regimented autodidactic recipe of reading, writing and ritual.” Another article, “Poetry Lives Here: The Sims Library of Poetry,” published for KCET, draws attention to one of the most important recent contributions to L.A.’s ever-transitory poetry scene by Hiram Sims, a poet and professor from South Central Los Angeles. Sims’ antidote, as Sonksen writes, was to open the Sims Library of Poetry, located in the Crenshaw District. Sims’ collection has grown to over 4,000 volumes and is open to the public.
According to Sonksen, “There are no other libraries in Southern California devoted to only poetry and only a few similar spaces exist across the United States.” Sims was also a featured speaker at the College of Liberal Arts’ first CoLA-Verse event this January, where he was joined by Verse Come Verse Serve student co-host Joshua Jones. Jones also took the photographs used in the article.
Sonksen also recently published his ‘2020 Book Guide’ with L.A. Taco, the self-described online journal for “real ones.” Included in his reading recommendations were new texts by Bridgette Bianca, a poet and professor from South East L.A., a sweeping history of Martha Gonzales’ band, Quetzal, and its participatory community practices, and a posthumous collection of poetry by Watts-born Wanda Coleman.
Last Updated on March 26, 2021.