Better Ancestors

photo by Simone Anne

adrienne danyelle oliver is a poet-educator, hip-hop scholar from Little Rock, AR currently living in the SF Bay Area. Her previous work has appeared in Storytelling, Self & Society (Wayne State University Press, 2018), Patrice Lumumba: An Anthology of Writers on Black Liberation (Nomadic Press, 2021) and Write Now! SF Bay’s Anthology Essential Truths: The Bay Area in Color (Pease Press, 2021). She has two chapbooks, collective madness (Finishing Line Press) and the body has memories (Nomadic Press) forthcoming in 2022. Some of adrienne’s favorite authors include Maya Angelou and Toni Morrison. When she is not writing, adrienne is reading or watching documentaries. She also leads a monthly healing writing circle for Black women.

photo courtesy of the author

Dr. Allison E. Francis, a Professor of English, and Coordinator of the English Department at Chaminade University of Honolulu in Hawaii, teaches and publishes scholarship on a range of topics, which include Victorian Literature, Scottish Literature, Theatre and Poetry,19th Century African American and Caribbean Women’s Literature, Vodou in Haiti, and Women’s Literature, with a focus on science fiction and fantasy. Her poetry has been anthologized in African American Wisdom, and most recently, in Bamboo Ridge Press’s Kīpuka: Finding Refuge in Times of Change, released in October 2021. Allison is also an actor, director, playwright, and a performance poet. She archived a short play on The Breath Project 2020, and Youtube.com, that commemorates the death of George Floyd: Chocolate Cake  (8:46). Recently, Allison published a volume of collaborative, renshi poetry, Mulatta—Not So Tragic (2021), with Oakland-based, poet-activist Karla Brundage.  

photo courtesy of the author

Christine No is a Korean American poet, filmmaker, and daughter of immigrants. She is a Sundance Alum, VONA Fellow, two-time Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net Nominee. She has served as Assistant Features Editor for the Rumpus, as Fellow, then as a Program Coordinator for VONA. Currently, Christine is board member with Quiet Lightning, a Bay Area literary nonprofit and works as the Advocacy Program Manager at ARTogether, an organization committed to using art and storytelling to build and empower newcomer immigrant and refugee communities; and to promote healing, cultural humility, and intercommunity connection. She lives and works in Oakland, California with her dog, Ruthie Wagmore.

photo courtesy of the author

Danny Thien Le is a Vietnamese American poet, community organizer, and public librarian from San Jose, California. For the last 20 years his work has centered around AAPI causes, nonprofits, fashion, design, event organizing, and the creative arts. He has worked with numerous organizations in the Bay Area and beyond – most notably with Cukui, Universal Grammar, POW! WOW! San Jose, the Diasporic Vietnamese Artists Network (DVAN), and the APIA Spoken Word & Poetry Summit. He is an alumni of the Multicultural Arts Leadership Institution (MALI) and an active member of San Jose’s Japantown. Danny has used poetry and writing as a vehicle to build upon his own redefining Southeast Asian identity and to help others reclaim their own personal narratives through the art of storytelling. When he is not busy producing events, starting new collaborations, or working the reference desk at the Santa Clara City Library, he enjoys dancing, traveling, good food, eclectic music, and collecting rare books and recordings.

About the HOST

Kevin Dublin, courtesy of the author

The host for this 5th event is TBD. Kevin Dublin hosted our most recent Better Ancestors event. Kevin is a writer of poetry, prose, scripts, and code originally from the small town of Smithfield, NC. His words have recently appeared in The Racket, Cincinnati Review, North Carolina Literary Review, Sparkle + Blink, and he is author of the chapbook How to Fall in Love in San Diego (Finishing Line Press, 2017). Kevin holds an MFA from San Diego State, leads workshops all over the bay area, including Litquake’s Elder Writing Project, and enjoys making video adaptations of poetry and developing web apps for writers.

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.

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 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 143 shows featuring 1,744 readings by 928 local authors in 91 venues, ranging from dive bars and art galleries to state parks and national landmarks, and has published 116 books and produced two films, all selected by 76 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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