Better Ancestors

Valentina De Roca Fuerte courtesy of the author

Valentina De Roca Fuerte is a performing poet, awakening visual artist, workshop facilitator, and creative wellness educator. Born in Bogotá Colombia, raised in the DMV & Washington state, to now living in Harlem; she carries all these places with her. Her words are motivated by the urgency to write through brown immigrant women’s pain & power. She recently graduated with a Masters in Art Politics from NYU Tisch & is now teaching brilliant middle-schoolers in Brooklyn. 

Kelechi Ubozoh, courtesy of the author

Kelechi Ubozoh is a Nigerian-American writer and mental health advocate who blends the reality of trauma, race, and mental health into her writing. Kelechi co-hosts the Bay Area submission-based reading series MoonDrop Productions with Cassandra Dallett. She has performed at the Berkeley Poetry Festival (2019), Oakland’s Beast Crawl (2016-2017) and San Francisco’s Litquake (2018-2019). For the past three years she has performed at Litcrawl with Cocoa Fly, an all-Black women troupe. Her work is published in Endangered Species, Enduring Values edited by Shizue Seigel. In 2019, she published her anthology with L.D. Green, We’ve Been Too Patient: Voices from Radical Mental Health. She is currently working on a collection of poetry through memoir.  

ASHA, by Lux Campbell

ASHA is an Artist, Educator, and Revolutionary. Originally from LA, ASHA has been a public school teacher for the last 10 years in the bay area. She is an international poet, striving to use art to create radical change. ASHA has been featured on the cover of Content Magazine, KQED Arts, and many of the prominent poetry events in the Bay Area, as well as been an active speaker, emcee, and performer at numerous rallies and marches for civil and human rights. Her Tedx tells her diasporic journey of identity through poetry, and her latest book release, Not Your Masi’s Generation tackles mental health and healing from generational trauma. Her dream is to establish her own K-12 school rooted in restorative practices, art and social justice based standards. ASHA consistently uses her platform to voice out against injustice and to speak up for those who have been marginalized and silenced for centuries.

Teju Adisa-Farrar, courtesy of the author

Teju Adisa-Farrar is a Jamaican-American writer, poet and geographer from Oakland. Her writing explores experiences of exclusion, coloniality, geographies of Blackness, urban culture, environmental equity, and systemic change. Teju has performed poetry and conducted workshops all over the world including in Austria, Denmark, Portugal, Botswana and the United States. She has been published on several digital sites and magazines, as well as has an e-book of poetry entitled searching to find home (2014) and a poetry chapbook entitled to belong. (2017) based on her travels throughout Israel and Palestine. Teju is interested in documenting and mapping Black (read: alternative) futures. 

Lourdes Figueroa, by Peggy Peralta

Lourdes Figueroa was born in Yuba City, California, during a trip her parents made from Mexico to the USA when they worked in the campo tilling the soil. Her work is rooted in migration, what her family lived when they moved to this country. In 2009 and 2011 she attended VONA. In 2012 she completed an MFA with a focus in poetry at USF. Her work has been published in Jack Hirschman’s Poets 11 2008 & 2010Generations, Eleven Eleven, Something Worth Revising and BACKWORDS Press. She currently works and lives in San Francisco with her wife. yolotl was her first chapbook, published by Spooky Actions. Her chapbook Ruidos=To Learn Speak, written during her Alley Cat Residency, is forthcoming.

About the series

One of Quiet Lightning’s efforts to diversify and move toward racial equityBetter Ancestors is a new quarterly showcase of writers of color. Developed in partnership with Michael Warr, the series features 5 authors reading or performing whatever they choose. Each author selects one performer for the following show, so the series – and community – is self-generating. All authors are paid and published in an end of the year anthology.

Why Better Ancestors? As one of our initiatives to diversify from a board that has historically been mostly white, this showcase aims to provide a long-term, forward-thinking goal. As a society, we are suffering the consequences of pervasive systemic injustice against people of color, queer and trans people, the poor, disabled, and otherwise disadvantaged. But we are all ancestors of the future. If the planet is to remain inhabitable; if the function of humanity is not to sort and oppress our descendants based on their skin color, accent, or material property, we must be better ancestors. This begins by listening to one another, and by giving each other space to be heard.

Kai Sugioka-Stone
Amanda Muñiz
Isabelle Khoo-Miller
Arlene Biala
Melissa Merin
Nia McAllister
Josiah Luis Alderete by Michelle Kilfeather (cropped)
Josiah Luis Alderete
Brontez Purnell
Greer Nakadegawa-Lee
Aja Couchois Duncan
Aja Couchois Duncan

The artists Above each invited one person to perform in THE NEXT SHOW, to be held VIRTUALLY ON 4/5, 2021.

About Michael Warr

Michael Warr’s books include Of Poetry and Protest: From Emmet Till to Trayvon Martin, edited by Michael Warr (W.W. Norton), and from Tia Chucha Press The Armageddon of FunkWe Are All The Black Boy, and Power Lines: A Decade of Poetry From Chicago’s Guild Complex. In 2017 he was named a San Francisco Library Laureate. Other poetry honors include a Creative Work Fund award for his multimedia project Tracing Poetic Memory in Bayview Hunters Point, PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award for Excellence in Literature, Black Caucus of the American Library Association Award, Gwendolyn Brooks Significant Illinois Poets Award, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship for Poetry. Michael is the former Deputy Director of the Museum of the African Diaspora and has extensive experience in community-based arts. He became a board member of the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library in 2018. In 2020, he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Berkeley Poetry Festival. Follow his creative work at https://michaelwarr-creativework.tumblr.com/.

About Quiet Lightning

Now in its 12th year, Quiet Lightning is a literary movement to create and foster community around the written and spoken word. QL aims to democratize public space by offering performances, curation opportunities, and programming with no barriers to entry, providing a launchpad for new and emerging artists, a reliable platform for professional writers, and an inclusive, accessible gathering place for the public. QL is committed to care-taking and progressing the rich threads of literary culture that exist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Recognized by the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts as one of the 100 “people, organizations, and movements who are shaping the future of culture”, Quiet Lightning’s flagship is the literary mixtape, a submission-based series with a blind selection process and different curators for each show. The shows, which are free to attend, are published as books, handed out free to the first 100 people, and all participating artists are paid. QL has now produced 136 shows featuring 1,662 readings by 867 local authors in 91 venues, ranging from dive bars and art galleries to state parks and national landmarks, and has published 115 books and produced two films, all selected by 72 different curators. In 2019, Quiet Lightning pioneered an application process for limited-term board-membership, called Disruptors, to regularly bring new ideas and energy into the organization. QL maintains Litseen.com, a daily calendar of literary events.

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Every tax deductible donation helps Quiet Lightning invest in a sustainable, ethical arts ecosystem, with the goal of building that culture into the fabric of our lives. You can donate by Venmo or PayPal or pledge a recurring donation by becoming one of our supporters on Patreon, which comes with a few additional perks and helps us expand on the work that we do.

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