Better Ancestors

Next event is Monday, April 3, 2023 @ a location TBA soon

Photo by David Morales

Rebecca Samuelson is a Bay Area poet from Hayward, California who writes from the intersection of caretaking and grief. She received her MFA in creative writing, with a concentration in poetry, from Saint Mary’s College of California. She received a BA in English, with a concentration in creative writing, from San Francisco State University. Her work can be found at rebecca-samuelson.com.

Photo by Sara Hoffpauir

griffin jing martin is a san francisco based interdisciplinary artist. griffin’s work finds form through connection with community, reverence for the collective, and the belief that every trans person is precious and completely necessary. griffin’s work shares their transfeminine asian american perspective on togetherness and singular identity in all of their whimsical, prismatic complications. griffin’s poetry can be found in the ana, mixed rice zines, dekopon! magazine, sine theta mag, and is upcoming in foglifter journal vol. 8.1.

Photo courtesy the author

Charles Orgbon III (he/him) is an environmental sustainability consultant by day, and freelance writer by night. When it comes to writing, Charles has done a variety of creative projects, from personal essays to news journalism to even comics and songwriting. He has two music projects out now, “A Survivor’s Reward” and “Blackberry,” both available anywhere you listen to music. He loves writing about identity, culture, and sexuality.

Photo by Beth LaBerge/KQED

Ayodele Nzinga is a multi-hyphenated artist; a brilliant actress, producing director, playwright, poet, dramaturg, performance consultant, educator, and community advocate. She is the director of the Lower Bottom Playaz, Inc., Oakland’s oldest North American African Theater Company and founder of Lower Bottom Playaz Summer Theater Day Camp. She is co-founder of Janga’s House, a Black Women Arts collective, and a founding member of BlacSpace Collective. She is the Executive Director of the Black Arts Movement Business District Community Development Corporation, of Oakland, (BAMBD CDC); and founder and producer of BAMBDFEST International Biennial a month-long arts and cultural festival animating the Black Arts Movement Business District in Oakland CA. Nzinga holds an MFA in Writing and Consciousness; a Ph.D. in Transformative Education & Change; is a Cal-Shakes Artist Investigator Alumni; a San Francisco Foundation Arts Leadership Fellow; a member of the Alameda County Women’s Hall of Fame; recognized by Theater Bay Area as one of the 40 faces in the Bay  that changed the face of theater in the Bay Area; is recognized by the August Wilson House as the only director in the world to direct the complete August Wilson American Century Cycle in chronological order; a YBCA 10 Fellow, a BIPOC Circle Fellow and a VOICES Community Journalism Fellow. Nzinga is the inaugural Poet Laureate of Oakland CA. Nzinga’s work for the stage has been reviewed internationally. Her blog is read in 81 countries. She is the author of Preforming Literacy a Narrative Inquiry into Performance Pedagogy, The Horse Eaters, SorrowLand Oracle, and Incandescent and her work can be found in numerous journals and anthologies. Nzinga, a cultural anchor, is part theoretician and part partitioner. She describes herself as a cultural architect invested in creating structures for culture making.

+ more authors, host TBA soon!

last event hosted by

Alie Jones is a self-care advocate, writer, artist, and Creole mermaid. She is Co-founder and Director of Black Freighter Press, a revolutionary press committed to the exploration of liberation, using art to transform consciousness. She is a founder of Bodacious Bombshells, a wellness collective in Oakland. Alie is a yoga instructor passionate about centering our breathwork as sacred and hopes to build a legacy of awareness and expression. Alie graduated with her MFA in Creative Writing and Literature from Mills College. She received her MPA from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies and BA in Cinematic Arts & Technology from CSU Monterey Bay and a minor in Creative Writing and Social Action. Alie is the host of the podcast Chit Chat with Aliecat, where she explores self-care practices and journeys of self-love in community.

performances by

SevanKelee Boult
Alie Jones
Briana Swain
Sarai Bordeaux
Nazelah Jamison

photo by Connie Zheng

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.

Better Ancestors was made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Visit www.calhum.org.

Artist Profiles & Previous Events

CLICK ON THE DATE FOR VIDEO + MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE SHOW
Tongo Eisen-Martin
Briana Grogan
Dazié Grego-Syke
Duane Horton
Alie Jones
Briana Swain courtesy the author
Briana Swain
Sarai Bordeaux
Nazelah Jamison
TJ Sykes
SevanKelee Boult
Hilary Cruz Mejía
Meilani Clay
Lorenz Mazon Dumuk
Donté Clark
Kevin Madrigal Galindo
Landon Smith
Dr. Allison E. Francis
adrienne danyelle oliver
Christine No
Danny Thien Le
Tez de la Tierra
Jeneé Darden
Karla Brundage
Cinthia Marisol Lozano
Quynh-Mai Nguyen
Youssef Alaoui-Fdili
Valentina De Roca Fuerte
Kelechi Ubozoh
ASHA
Lourdes Figueroa
Teju Adisa-Farrar
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

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 13th 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 147 shows featuring 1,796 readings by 964 local authors in 91 venues, ranging from dive bars and art galleries to state parks and national landmarks, and has published 119 books and produced two films, all selected by 77 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.

Make a one-time donation or support us on patreon

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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