Best of Yay! LA: Literature

0 Comments 27 September 2016

Get comfy with Yay! LA’s finest author interviews and original literary content.

By Daniel Barron



A year after its debut, Yay! LA Magazine went from a publication that covers culture to a platform for culture itself. We opened the door to review any short stories, poetry, flash fiction, columns, or essays that people wanted to submit with criteria that was about as loose and limited as can be. In writing as with art, music, film, or beyond it’s simple: we know what we like.

As time wore on and the site’s range of coverage became more broad, we hoped to expose our audience to a wider spectrum of voices. Hopefully you appreciated the effort. I was often unsure if there was any sort of crossover between the site visitors who wanted to read interviews and articles about artists and those who came to dig into original literature. Either way, it’s a component of the magazine that I have always been proud of and makes up some of the finest word-fu in Yay! LA history. This post is dedicated to the dozens who helped us find our voice.

Also: Our collection of the best author interviews and storytelling features.


Photo: David Williams

Photo: David Williams

“BinderCon Founders Leigh Stein & Lux Alptraum Bring Women Together” (Published 3/31/16)

by Sarah Morisano

BinderCon, also known as Out of the Binders, Inc, is a non-profit organization that was founded in 2014 in order to help advance the careers of women and gender non-conforming writers. This past March Sarah Morisano attended and spoke to the symposium’s founders about their movement.

Quote: “In the perfect, equal, feminist world, it would literally be ‘the best person for the job’ and someone’s gender, race, physical ability level, or age would not be considered as criteria. Now it’s challenging because all of those things shape who we are and shape our abilities and experiences and vision. Our culture prioritizes the stories that are relatable to straight white men, which are often stories that feature straight white men.”

Read here.



“Natashia Deon’s Dirty Laundry Lit ” (Published 8/22/14)

by Daniel Barron

Natashia Deon (author of the critically-acclaimed novel Grace) spoke about the vision that drives her quarterly reading series Dirty Laundry Lit.

Quote: “When people come to our readings I want them to be able to see themselves onstage so that they can think ‘I belong here, too.’  I’m very conscious of that because I don’t always think the literary community is accepting in that way.”

Read here.


greater boston podcast

“The Urban Odyssey of Audio Drama Greater Boston” (Published 9/27/16)

by Daniel Barron

The old-timey form of the serialized audio drama is alive and well in Alexander Danner & Jeff Van Dreason’s sprawling magic realist Greater Boston.

Quote: “In the first half of season 1, a lot of the characters are being narrated, they’re writing letters, they’re giving monologues, they’re much more in their own heads. As the season progresses they start talking to each other more. So for me, a big part of the show is about how that works and what people get out of it, why that connection is such a necessary part of society.”

Read here.



“Raquel Gutiérrez on Breaking Up With Los Angeles” (Published 6/25/14)

by Justin Maurer

Poet Raquel Gutiérrez went deep about life growing up in LA and finding her voice through poetry.

Quote: “Hmm first poem. Yeah, I think it was a poem about a girl. It was called ‘Fire Woman.'”

Read here.



“Graphic Imagery & Mari Naomi ” (Published 8/2/16)

by Daniel Barron

Graphic novelist Mari Naomi discussed her alternative upbringing, being honest in her writing, and her latest release Turning Japanese.

Quote: “As soon as I got out of high school I just got a bunch of jobs. I held like six jobs at one point. I was very ambitious. A lot of people at that age weren’t very ambitious so it was very easy for me to rise up above. When I worked at this bank I immediately got promoted and promoted and promoted. I mean, I’m not a banker anymore, but it was a lesson in how to play ball.”

Read here.

“Wendy C. Ortiz Excavates Teen Years For New Novel” (Published 8/21/14)

by Justin Maurer

Wendy C. Ortiz revisited a teenage affair with a teacher for her memoir Excavation and talked committing old memories to the page and her reading series Rhapsadomancy.

Quote: “It was difficult re-reading journals from those years. Enough time has passed for me that it’s not as difficult discussing it, but writing about it always presents its own challenge.”

Read here.



“Balls Out: Kevin Allison’s RISK Show” (Published 4/24/14)

by Daniel Barron

Comedian Kevin Allison discussed the moment that lead him to start the revealing podcast and live series RISK and the qualities that define great storytelling.

Quote: “The whole idea was to take a risk every week, whether the subject was drugs or parents or death or sex- I’m going to be encouraging the storytellers every week, ‘Dig deeper than you would onstage. Go out on a limb and really reveal stuff that feels ballsy.'”

Read here.



“The Life and Fortunes of Author Jim Ruland ” (Published 8/16/14)

by Justin Maurer

Author Jim Ruland spoke about his novel Forest of Fortune,punk rock, life in the navy, and his reading series Vermin On The Mount.

Quote: “Read. Read your favorite writer. Read your favorite writer’s favorite writer. Read everything your writing teacher has ever written (especially if you don’t like your writing teacher). Read poetry. Read plays. Read comic books. Read toothpaste ingredients. The only thing you have no business reading is the biographies of famous writers unless you are a budding biographer of someone famous.”

Read here.



Zen and the Art of Yumi Sakugawa” (Published 1/6/15)

by Daniel Barron

Yumi Sakugawa, author behind such graphic works as I Think I Am In Friend Love With You and Your Illustrated Guide To Becoming One With The Universe, sat down to discuss finding peace in exploring comics, her culture, and meditation.

Quote: “Definitely an early influence would be Haruki Marukami. I like how he has these matter-of-fact fantastic realities in his novels whether it’s time travel or a talking cat or random extraterrestrial forces that are disrupting people’s lives.”

Read here.



“A Heart to Heart with Author Kevin Sampsell” (Published 11/5/13)

by Daniel Barron

Portland author Kevin Sampsell spoke about parenthood and getting raw to promote his 2013 novel about marriage, This Is Between Us.

Quote: [On not giving the two main characters names.] “I wanted the reader to identify with them, and I think if I had made up names for them it would have made the book feel more like a piece of fiction. Sometimes when I’m reading fiction, I am thrown off by character names for some reason. I didn’t want any extra sense of remove in the reading experience here. I want all 234 pages to feel like they’re stuck to your skin.”

Read here.



“Mike Sonksen: The Bard of Los Angeles” (Published 11/18/14)

by Daniel Barron

Author/teacher/journalist Mike “The Poet” Sonksen talked at length about LA history, growing up all over the city, his beginnings in poetry, and all the best reading series in town.

Quote: “I always kind of grew up in the middle of the melting pot. I was a middle-class kid and I had friends from all sides of the tracks. But I think growing up in that time and the city was sort of a war zone- I’ve said this many times before, but it made me a peacemaker.”

Read here.



Yay! LA Original Literature

Here is a selection of Yay! LA‘s lit content contributors whose work we were proud to showcase over the course of the site’s four-year history. Many of these authors submitted more than one piece, but we’ve singled out a good place to start for each. Recognize: These writers have gone on to release books, create their own zines, and get published in respectable publications far more respectable than Yay! LA. We are the proud papa.



Ginger Buswell

Ginger Buswell is co-editor of When in Drought & Assistant Managing Editor of the Los Angeles Review of Books print magazine. Her writing has appeared infrequently in Sparkle & Blink, on living room walls, and in unsuspecting mailboxes.

“Between You and Me” (short story)

[Editor’s Note: This piece was originally published in “When In Drought.”]



Chris Camargo

Chris Camargo is a writer living in Los Angeles. He is a graduate of UCLA and was once a graduate student at CSULA studying Political Theory until leaving with one class unfinished and the comprehensive exam left wanting – the inevitable result of reading too much Nietzsche and Heidegger. He is a four-time recipient of a PEN Center USA’s Emerging Voice Fellowship rejection letter. His work has appeared in The Altar Collective, Yay! LA Magazine, and The WOMEN Group. He was a finalist for Glimmer Train’s New Writers Award in August 2014.

“Ali’s Last Fight” (short story)



Art by Kitty Boyce.

Chelsea Cohen

Chelsea Cohen escaped from the 9 to 5 world of financial management to seek out the less lucrative but more rewarding artist’s lifestyle. She spends most of her time in front of the computer screen between freelance personal assistant work and the great American blah, blah, blah. She lives in Los Angeles with her beer-brewing husband and the ghosts of a thousand dead plants and runs Artists Underground, an art activist group focused on delivering swift kick-in-the-pants motivation to artists tired of the status quo bullshit.

“Diary of An Epileptic” (poetry)- “Epilepsy has sometimes been called the last closet disorder. By illustrating the condition through my words, I hope to bring to light the acceptance of it as something we can understand and talk about.”

Links: website


Photo: Julie Daniels

Photo: Julie Daniels

Jennifer J. Chow

Jennifer J. Chow, an Asian-American writer, lives near Los Angeles. Her short fiction has appeared in several literary magazines. Her multicultural women’s fiction novel, The 228 Legacy (Martin Sisters Publishing), was a 2013 IndieFab Finalist from Foreword Reviews.

“The Delicate Lotus” (flash fiction)

Links: website, Twitter


Lisbeth Coiman

Lisbeth Coiman is a bilingual blogger and writer who has worked as college professor and translator. Lisbeth writes about mental illness, acculturation, identity, and immigration. She lives in Palos Verdes Peninsula in Los Angeles County.

“Latina, Morena Loca, American” (essay)

Essays, Short Stories/Poetry



Alyssa Crow

A. Crow is a Los Angeles-based poet and writer. She regularly writes and reads for The WOMEN Group, a Los Angeles-based literary collective and reading series which meets monthly at Stories Books & Cafe in Echo Park. She also started the bath works line Lunar Habit.

“The Girls I Grew Up With” (poetry)

Links: website, Twitter, Lunar Habit store



Art Currim

Art Currim has lived in Los Angeles for a decade, by way of India, the UK, Canada, and Orange County. Following a decade as a successful video game director and then mobile gadget designer and producer – he walked away from all the machinery, and into a life of writing and composing. He hoped therein to find release, meaning, and friendships, and to lose the Oxford comma. Regrettably, his decision has triggered more harm than reward, as he understands even less now than he did before.

Art spends his “stuck in traffic” moments thinking about social issues, race and gender rights, representation and stereotyping, the nature of tenuous connections between individuals, and the transcendent moments of creation and destruction. He recently released his first chapbook, and is working on its follow-up.

“This Is Art Currim” (poetry)

Links: blog, Twitter



Mitch Grabois

Over six hundred of Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois’ poems and fictions have appeared in literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad, including Yay! LA. He has been nominated several times for the Pushcart Prize. His novel, Two-Headed Dog, based on his work as a clinical psychologist in a state hospital, is available for Kindle and Nook, or as a print edition. Formerly from LA, he now lives in Denver, where the smog is crisp and dry.

“No Fink” & Others (flash fiction)

Links: Order his book Two-Headed Dog.



Douglas Light

Douglas Light is a New York-based novelist, screenwriter, and short story wrtier. His debut novel, East Fifth Bliss, was turned into the film The Trouble With Bliss, which stars Michael C. Hall, Lucy Liu, and Brie Larson (he also co-wrote the screenplay). His short story collection Girls in Trouble won the 2010 Grace Paley Prize and was published in the fall of 2011. His latest novel, The Wobble, was published in the fall of 2015.

“After the Prize” (flash fiction)

Links: website, Twitter



Photo: Stephen Paul

Rachel Fannan

Rachel Fannan, born Rachel Williams, is an accomplished singer, songwriter and voice actor. From the stage to the studio, Fannan’s voice and musical prowess have earned her a special place in the hearts of audiences around the world. Her music projects have included Sleep Sun, Only You, and The Bomb.

“A Love Like Leather” & Others (poems)

website, Twitter



Emily Hunt

Emily Hunt Kivel was born in San Francisco; raised in Petaluma; driven mad in Santa Barbara; and educated in Paris. She is the author of the poetry chapbook John Travolta Considers His Odds, and is currently at work on her first novel. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Harlequin Creature, The Nervous Breakdown, Artillery Magazine, Yay! LA Magazine, The Nervous Breakdown, Molossus, Los Angeles Magazine, and Midnight Breakfast.

She works, writes, and lives in Echo Park (Los Angeles) with her husband. She met him in college when she was in a constant state of panic and obsessively reading and writing on Raymond Carver…perversely, they love to talk about love.  

“The Women in Unflattering Dresses” (poetry)




Ali Kellogg

Born in Los Angeles to a Buddhist musician and an Italian flight attendant, Ali is an archaeologist-in-training, musician, writer, illustrator, photographer, occasional DJ and cat mom. She holds a B.S. in Anthropology and Geochemistry and an M.A. in Mayan Archaeology from UCLA. Her research brought her to the jungles of Central America where she excavated and studied the effects of maize monoculture on the collapse of the Maya. She is a founding member of annual music festival LA Psych Fest, as well as a seasoned musician. She has also done extensive work with organizations including Playing For Change, ChangeFire orphanages in Mexico, and Voice of Roma.

Her research and poetry has been published in journals and magazines in the US, Spain, Netherland, Mexico, and England. She enjoys angry music, Arvo Pärt, Rush Hour 2 and black coffee.

“Accounts of Divination” (essay)




Rick Lupert

Rick Lupert has been involved with LA poetry since 1990. His is the recipient of the 2014 Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center Distinguished Service Award and was a co-director of the Valley Contemporary Poets for two years. He created the web resource Poetry Super Highway and hosted the now-defunct Cobalt Café weekly readings for nearly twenty-one years. He has authored sixteen collections of poetry, including The Gettysburg Undress and Nothing in New England is New. He also writes and draws (with Brendan Constantine) the daily web comic Cat and Banana.

Currently Rick works as the music teacher and graphic and web designer for anyone who would like to help pay his mortgage.

“Earthquake Poem” (poetry)

Links: website, Twitter



Justin Maurer

Justin Maurer was born in Los Angeles but came of age in the Pacific Northwest. American Sign Language was his first language. He has written two chapbooks and three novels. He plays in punk bands like Clorox Girls, LA Drugz and Maniac. He sells digital X-ray devices to dentists.

“Spiders From Mars” (poetry)




Seth Michelson

Seth Michelson most recently published the poetry collection Eyes Like Broken Windows, winner of the Poetry category of the 2013 International Book Awards. He also has published three other collections of poetry and three books of poetry in translation, with all of his translation projects focusing on feminist poets. Seth currently teaches the poetry of the Americas at Washington and Lee University, as well as summer writers programs in poetry at Sarah Lawrence College. He has been a featured guest at poetry events around the world, including festivals and series in the US, Argentina, Uruguay, and India.

Seth Michelson is an award-winning poet, translator, and professor. He also loves to cook, eat, and travel. He has had the good fortune to live in many amazing places around the world, including Montevideo, Buenos Aires, Madrid, Los Angeles, San Diego, New York City, Sydney, and Helsinki. He currently resides in Lexington, Virginia, where he teaches at Washington and Lee University.

“Papa’s War Song” (poetry)



lael neale

Photo: Piper Ferguson

Lael Neale

Lael Neale is an LA-based folk musician and poet. She is the founder of the East Side Poetry Group and her debut album I’ll Be Your Man is available now.

“The Aquarium Store” (poetry)

website, Twitter


Jessica M. Wilson

Jessica M. Wilson is Navajo Indian Poet from East Los Angeles, CA. She has an MFA in Writing from Otis College of Art and Design and a BA in Creative Writing and Art History from University of California, Riverside. She is the founder of the Los Angeles Poet Society, an organization set out to bridge the creative communities of Los Ángeles by bringing the LA literary ‘scene’ into light — so there would be transparency between Poets and Poetry Venues, Publishers, Musicians and Artists and all creatives. To bring the community together, Jessica founded and hosts the literary series’: Writers’ Row, Writer Wednesday, SoapBox Poets Open Mic, and the Salon @ NoHo.

She is also is a Poet Teacher with California Poets in the Schools, and believes in the power of the word! She’s also active in 100 Thousand Poets for Change and Revolutionary Poets Brigade in Los Angeles! Her book of poetry Serious Longing, is the first book of English to be published on Editions du Cygne’s English language imprint, Swan World Press.

“The Children” (poetry)


Terry Wolverton speaking at the Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center in Los Angeles.

Terry Wolverton speaking at the Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center in Los Angeles.

Terry Wolverton

Terry Wolverton is the author of ten books of poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction, most recently Wounded World: lyric essays about our spiritual disquiet, which includes original photographs by Yvonne M. Estrada. Terry is the founder of Writers At Work, a creative writing studio in Los Angeles and Affiliate Faculty in the MFA Writing Program at Antioch University Los Angeles. She’s also an instructor of Kundalini Yoga and Meditation and is studying herbalism.

“Origami Portrait” (poetry)



National Poetry Month 2015

In April of 2015, Yay! LA set out to meet the challenge of posting thirty-one pieces of original poetry in as many days as part of National Poetry Month. The experiment paid off richly, as we proudly became a platform for a more varied and diverse range of talents than ever before. To add a rich visual component, each piece was also complemented with a work of art or photography. Participants in this event included Iris de Ana, Raquel Gutierrez, Khadija Anderson, Brandon Jordan Brown, Kate Kieve, and Marco A. Vasquez.

View the full list here.


Full list of contributors

Khadija Anderson, Brandon Jordan Brown, Ginger Buswell, Chris Camarago, Jennifer J. Chow, Chelsea Cohen, Lisbeth Coiman, Keisha Cosand, Alyssa Crow, Art Currim, Nicelle Davis, Iris De Anda, Seven Dhar, Franki Elliot, Yvonne Estrada, Rachel Fannan, Sesshu Foster, Dina Gachman, Michalle Gould, Raquel Gutiérrez, Karen Marie Christa Minns, Mitch Grabois, Jeremiah Moriarty, John Grey, Sonia Gutiérrez, Rick Hartwell, Alexandra Hohmann, Tori Holder, Emily Hunt, Ali Kellogg, Kate Kieve (as Noelle W. Flint), Douglas Light, Nikita Liza, Owen Lucas, Rick Lupert, Henri Maddocks, Karineh Mahdessian, Justin Maurer, Rosie MacFarland, Seth Michelson, Mary Monroe, Daniel Moore, Frank Mundo, Lael Neale, Katie Pukash, Crystal Salas, Jessica Sheets, Marco A. Vasquez,  Darby Walters, Jessica M. Wilson, Terry Wolverton, Helen Yeoman


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- who has written 424 posts on Yay! LA | Arts & Culture Magazine.

Rudderless college graduate Daniel Barron founded Yay! LA Magazine on a love of writing, passion for the arts, and a firm belief that people really like talking about themselves. He contributed to a number of publications, including LA Music Blog and the defunct The Site Unscene, before deciding to cover arts and entertainment the way he wanted to read it. He works as a freelance writer and digital PR consultant in his current home of Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter at @YayDanielBarron.

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