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Born and raised in various parts of South Los Angeles, Hiram Sims is a poet, author and Creative Writing Professor teaching at The Los Angeles Film School, USC, and here with The Community Literature Initiative.  He graduated from University of Southern California and received a B.A. in English: Creative Writing and a Masters of Professional Writing in Poetry. He has published three collections of poetry, including Poems of a Young, Troubled Mind (2007), Write or Die: An Anthology of Poetry from the Urban Poet's Workshop (2008), and PHOTOETRY: Poetry and Photography from South Central (2013).​

Creative Director-Poetry Instructor

Hiram Sims


JAHA ZAINABU is a literary poet, spoken word artist, storyteller, visual artist, and motivational speaker from Long Beach, California. She has been featured in venues throughout the country such as: The Getty Museum, The World Stage, The Nuyorcian Cafe, and many others. She has also appeared on BET’s Lyric Cafe and Robert Townsend’s “Spoken”. She has two CD's: JOURNEY and UNMASKED. She is also the author of THE SCIENCE OF CHOCOLATE MILK MAKING (poems, stories, musings); THE CORNERS OF MY SHAPING (personal essays, stories, poems, musings); THE NIKEL (a novella); WOMEN IN THE VILLAGE GO ‘ROUND AND ‘ROUND (short stories).  JOURNEY is the one-woman show she produced which began in 1999. She is a funny, gifted poet and wonderful entertainer.

Poetry Instructor

Jaha Zainabu


Andrés Sanchez was born in Nezahualcoyotl, a neighborhood of Mexico City, Mexico. They migrated with their family to the United States at the age of five. They grew up in parts of Southern California and finally settled with their family in Las Vegas, NV. Growing up in a somewhat religious household and in a very conservative city, it was difficult for them to come out. By definition, Andrés was a late bloomer, but eventually came out as queer at the age of 21. As time passed, it was difficult to come to terms with their comfortability in their own skin and a year ago at the age of 36, Andrés began their journey to transition.

Healing Inbeween Crushes, Lovers, and Heartbreak is my personal coming out journey as a transgender person while simultaniously revisiting my relationships with love. This compilation of poems tell a story about coming to terms with my own gender and sexual identity while processing my experiences with romantic relationships, familial connections, religious beliefs, and how the social constructs of femininity and masculinity affected these relationships.

Program Manager

Andres Sanchez Montoya

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