You'll Love The CLI Team
Executive Director, Poetry Instructor
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).
Ciara provides administrative support to the Community Literature Initiative team. Ciara is a native Virginian who currently resides in Los Angeles and recently joined CLI’s management team this summer. She received a BA in Communication Studies and Journalism from Loyola Marymount University, and is currently pursuing her master’s degree in Global Public Health from New York University. She has always had a passion for the arts and community organization, and is thrilled to be supporting a nonprofit that prides itself on assisting writers with publishing efforts in the city. In her downtime, she can be found spending time with her mom exploring the beautiful beaches, restaurants, and events Los Angeles has to offer, or shooting content for her own blog at @ciarafreeman.com.
Andres Sanchez Montoya
Program Manager, Teaching Assistant
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.
Father, Educator, Writer, Poet, Spokenword Artist & Host. He is a graduate of UCLA with a B.A. in History.
This gentle giant has a special gift for creating haiku and short stories accented with his wit and humble personality. AKoldPiece has traveled as far as the motherland "Afraka" to share his artistry.
Inspired by the legacy of his father and the future for his sun, AKP, which he is called by many, continues to embrace the unknown, where he finds solace in knowing that the unknown and uncomfortable is where true growth resides.
Growing up, AKP stuttered tremendously and was uncomfortable communicating because of it. This caught the attention of his father who told him "to write down what he wanted to say" because when he was reading, his father noticed he did not stutter. In that moment, AKP became a writer.
AKP began studying the dictionary and reading every book he can get his hands on. Yet, it wasn’t until his dad transitioned that he wrote his first poem entitled "A 12 Page Suicide Letter" in which he dealt with the unexpected passing of his beloved father.
Since, AKP has written a wealth of poems, short stories and Haiku. He is also a published author of the recently released book called "The Weather Report." A book of haiku and what he calls myku. He has also become a well-respected host for his ability to weave his friendly demeanor and humor into his stage time.
As a poet, AKP has featured at Black Broncos Rock for Cal Poly Pomona, The Black History Celebration at L.A. Southwest College, The Poetry Festival at Cal State Monterey Bay Flight School (formerly Natural High) of Culver City CA, Xpressions Open Mic of Long Beach CA, and Wednesday Night Snaps of Long Beach CA, Melodic Mondays of Los Angeles CA, Still Waters of Los Angeles CA, PoEx of Los Angeles, Ca, The Gathering of Los Angeles, Ca, SpeakEasy of Los Angeles, Ca. The Soundtrack of Los Angeles, Ca, Funtastic Fridays Infusion Lounge Of Los Angeles, Ca, The TakeOver inside of The JSpot Comedy Club of Los Angeles, Ca, The Extravaganza of Hollywood, Ca, Guess Lecturer for Community Literature Initiative of Los Angeles, Ca, Red Stories, S.W.A.A.M. Inglewood, Ca, Los Angeles, Ca, Poets & Allies, Pasadena, Ca Pasadena Lit fest, Pasadena, Ca Off The Self (Pop up art and live music) Los Angeles City Library, Ca, A Mic and Dim Lights, Pomona, Ca 3rd Sunday Promenade Gallery Open Mic, Pomona, Ca. He is an instructor for Engage (The Art of Active Living) that teaches poetry to elders inside of senior citizens facilities through out Los Angeles County and he teaches creative writing and chess at View Park High School.
AKP hosting credits include "Le' Boule," a poetry production in Los Angeles, S.W.A.A.M. Burn This Bridge, Poets Feed The People Speak Easy Open Mic. He has co-hosted at Poets Jazz House, World Stage Anasi Writers Workshop, Flight School Open Mic, On Higher Ground, host for Thursday Night Vibes, BLOG Lyrical Origami, the host for Frozen Vibes, currently the host For Poetry, Friends and Drinks and Co-host The Spot Open Mic.
AKP has found a unique way to be a host and poet, a special skill that is similar to an athlete excelling in two sports. In this place of stretch, we acknowledge and appreciate AKoldPiece for what he’s continuing to grow into: A-Kolder-Piece of work!!!
World Stage Press Manager
Jerry serves as the Book Production Coordinator for World Stage Press. He helps to locate and oversee both cover and layout designers responsible for creating print-ready books for each student going through the CLI book publishing class. He also organizes the design files to ensure both the manuscript and cover design are located at all times. Additionally, he offers critiques and new perspectives on book covers for CLI students, as well as assisting with the rewrite process during the book production stage of the CLI Book Publishing Class.
Anjana Saravanan is a sophomore at UC Berkeley studying Mechanical Engineering. She has always been an avid reader and writer, and likes to explore new authors and write poetry, prose and short stories. She works as the Librarian Manager for the Sims Library of Poetry, a new community space for the creation and enjoyment of poetry, where she has created an online circulation system, helped collect book donations, and been a part of the effort to create the physical space.
Camari Carter Hawkins
Social Media Marketing Manager
Camari Carter-Hawkins is the author of Death by Comb, a body of poetry that celebrates natural hair and Write Back to You, a guided journal for writing yourself back into your life. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a master’s degree in Organizational Management. Hawkins leads journaling workshops all across Los Angeles, where participants have affectionately dubbed her "Book Doula," thanks to her helping them write and publish their books. Hawkins is a proud advisor of the Community Literature Initiative and emeritus managing editor of World Stage Press. Hawkins is the winner of the 2018 Spoken Word, Voices Heard Women’s Amateur Slam. Her works have appeared in Rise: An Anthology of Power and Unity by Vagabond Press and The Best of The Poetry Salon 2013-2018 Anthology.
World Stage Press Co-Founder
Conney D. Williams is a poet, actor, community activist, and performance artist with two collections of poetry “Leaves of Spilled Spirit from an Untamed Poet (2002)” and “Blues Red Soul Falsetto (2012).” In 2015, he released two critically acclaimed cds of his poetry accompanied by music titled: “River&Moan and Unsettled Water. His poems have also been published in various anthologies & journals including Dryland Review, Voices from Leimert, Cultural Weekly, Drumming Between Us, Askew Poetry Journal, Wide Awake Anthology, and Poets & Allies Anthology. He has performed his poetry on television, radio, universities & colleges, and various venues across the U.S. He is the former Artistic Director at the World Stage and Coordinator for the Anansi Writers Workshop; He’s the co-founder of The World Stage Press where he consults on publication and author development.
My name is Daniel Andrews and I am the accounting volunteer of Community Literature Initiative. As CLI continues to grow its author base, I am focused on strengthening CLI’s financial & social performance. I am not sure if I have great relationship with poetry. Being an accountant, we do not get a lot of opportunities for self-expression since our work is so structured. I think that is why I understand and appreciate artistic expression and the work of CLI.
My name is Mariah Garcia. I am currently an undergraduate at Cal Poly Pomona working towards a Business Marketing Management degree.
I spend my free time watching Netflix, traveling around California and trying new restaurants. I love trying new things to do and seeing new places!
Here at CLI, I'm a marketing specialist, I help Camari create content and schedule our content. I create graphic designs for our social media pages such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. While I am involved in our social media, I also design the T-shirts for CLI and Sims Library of Poetry.
Hello! My name is Mimi Lam, and I am the Volunteer Librarian and Book Acquisitions of the Sims Library of Poetry. My relationship with poetry started during my senior year of high school. In my AP Literature class, we did slam poetry, and I began doing poetry recitations and writing my own spoken word poems. I enjoyed being able to express my thoughts and emotions into a performance. I shared a couple more spoken word pieces throughout college, and people sympathized with my words. I believe poetry conveys feelings that can’t be expressed in conversations. In addition to slam poetry, I also express my art in filmmaking, acting, and writing.
In my work with CLI, I collected hundreds of poetry books for the library from bookstores, libraries, and individual donations. I also catalogue and alphabetize the books. I’m excited for our growing library to reach the goal of 10,000 books!
Volunteer Grant Writer
Natalie serves as volunteer grant writer for the Community Literature Initiative. Prior to volunteering with CLI, she served as a health volunteer in Zambia with the Peace Corps. When she’s not volunteering, she enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with her family.
Kuahmel Allah (Vance Lee Thomas)
Kuahmel is a poet, musician, humorist and the admissions manager & talent scout for Community Literature Initiative. An alum of CLI, Project Blowed, Still Waters, and Spoken Literature Art Movement, he is published in three books like Peace in the Pocket, produced in CLI and on sale now.