Writing Now Reading Series

Structured around the work of several visiting contemporary writers, the Writing Now Reading Series and Seminar is a required course for CalArts MFA creative writing graduate students that showcases vibrant new modalities for writing that refresh today’s interconnected creative fields. Writing Now offers inspiring points of contact and critical conversation about writing process and practice between visiting writers, students and local audiences, with an eye for fostering the collaborative, the future-forward, and the unexpected in literature.

This spring, the series features readings and workshops with writers whose work is connected to the Creative Writing Program’s concentrations: Image & Text, Documentary Strategies, Writing & Performativity, and Writing & Its Publics.

How to Attend the Writing Now Readings Series

Readings will take place in Generator 201/202. Any location changes will be announced to the RSVP list.

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Spring 2022

Writing Now: Javon Johnson

Writing Now: Javon Johnson

Event DateEvent Date

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CalArts Campus

Generator Building 201/202

A salon-style reading and conversation concerning Writing and Performativity with poet, actor, and African American Studies professor Javon Johnson.

Javon Johnson’s research focuses on performance, blackness, African American literature, black pop culture, black feminist theory, black queer theory, masculinity studies, black sexualities, and ethnography. Johnson, a renowned spoken word poet, is a three-time national poetry slam champion and a four-time national finalist. He has appeared on HBO’s "Def Poetry Jam," BET’s "Lyric Café," TV One's "Verses & Flow," "The Steve Harvey Show," "The Arsenio Hall Show," "United Shades of America with Kamau Bell" on CNN. He also co-wrote a documentary titled "Crossover," which aired on Showtime in collaboration with the NBA and Nike. Johnson’s first book, Killing Poetry: Blackness and the Making of Slam and Spoken Word Communities (Rutgers University Press 2017), unpacks some of the complicated issues that comprise performance poetry spaces and argues that the truly radical potential in slam and spoken word communities lies not just in proving literary worth, speaking back to power, or even in altering power structures, but instead in imagining and working towards altogether different social relationships. His second project, The End of Chiraq: A Literary Mixtape (Northwestern University Press (2018) is a co-edited book that critically creatively explores Chiraq (a name that is an amalgamation of Chicago and Iraq as a way to call to the violence of certain parts of Chicago) as a space and as a term. Additionally, Johnson has published in Text & Performance Quarterly, Liminalities, QED: A Journal of Queer Worldmaking, The Root, Huffington Post, and others.


Fall 2021

Writing Now Reading Series: Christopher Soto

Christopher Soto is a poet based in Los Angeles. In 2016, he published the chapbook Sad Girl Poems (Sibling Rivalry Press) and co-founded the Undocupoets Campaign with Javier Zamora and Marcelo Hernandez Castillo.

Reading(s) will be streamed via the Creative Writing Program's YouTube Channel.

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Writing Now Reading Series: Sesshu Foster & Arturo Ernesto Romo

Sesshu Foster taught composition and literature in East L.A. for 35 years, and at the University of Iowa, Occidental College, Pomona College, the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, and the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Arturo Ernesto Romo was born in Los Angeles in 1980. An artist, high school arts educator and political thinker, Romo’s artmaking practice challenges and stands apart from the highly individualistic and market based structures of the traditional art world. His work is mostly done in collaboration with dear artist colleagues, family, fellow community members and students.

Reading(s) will be streamed via the Creative Writing Program's YouTube Channel.

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Writing Now Reading Series: Dodie Bellamy

Dodie Bellamy is a novelist, poet, and essayist. She specializes in genre-bending work that focuses on feminism, sexuality, cultural artifacts both high and low, and all things queer.

Reading(s) will be streamed via the Creative Writing Program's YouTube Channel.

Event Details

Writing Now Reading Series: Douglas Kearney

Douglas Kearney has published seven collections, including the National Book Award-longlisted Sho (Wave Books, 2021), Buck Studies (Fence Books, 2016), winner of the Theodore Roethke Memorial Poetry Award, the CLMP Firecracker Award for Poetry, and California Book Award silver medalist (Poetry). M. NourbeSe Philip calls Kearney’s collection of libretti, Someone Took They Tongues.

Reading(s) will be streamed via the Creative Writing Program's YouTube Channel.

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Writing Now Reading Series: Janice Lee

Janice Lee is a Korean-American writer, editor, teacher, and shamanic healer. She is the author of 7 books of fiction, creative nonfiction, & poetry, most recently: Reconsolidation (Penny-Ante Editions, 2015), The Sky Isn’t Blue (Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2016), Imagine a Death (Texas Review Press, 2021), and Separation Anxiety (CLASH Books, 2022).

Reading(s) will be streamed via the Creative Writing Program's YouTube Channel.

Event Details


For more information on the Writing Now Reading Series or for accessibility questions, please contact the Visiting Artist Coordinator at csartistcoordinator@calarts.edu