Our Winter Reading with Hari Alluri, Shuly Xóchitl Cawood, Yesenia Montilla, Cynthia Dewi Oka, Carla Rachel Sameth, and Ben Weakley is now available to watch on YouTube.

 “As the darkness deepened, we passed candles.” –Seema Reza

On November 30th, Community Building Art Works brought together an amazing group of poets for our annual winter reading. We celebrated their work, and enjoyed being in community. If you did not have the opportunity to participate, (or even if you did and can’t get enough of these bright stars!) please take a moment to watch the full recording, now on our YouTube channel and just in time for Winter Solstice. Light a candle with us.

Featured Artists and Works:
Ben Weakley – Heat + Pressure
Hari Alluri – Our Echo of Sudden Mercy
Carla Rachel Sameth – One Day on the Gold Line
Yesenia Montilla – Muse Found in a Colonized Body
Cynthia Dewi Oka – A Tinderbox in Three Acts
Shuly Xóchitl Cawood – What the Fortune Teller Would Have Said

All of these books can be found on our Bookshop page “Glowing In The Dark” list, here

About The Poets

Ben Weakley spent fourteen years in the U.S. Army, beginning with deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan and finishing at a desk inside the Pentagon. He writes poetry and prose about the enduring nature of war and the human experience. His first collection of poems, HEAT + PRESSURE is forthcoming in November 2022 from Middle West Press.
Ben’s work appears in the anthologies, Our Best War Stories, by Middle West Press and We Were Not Alone, by Community Building Art Works. Other poems and articles appear or are forthcoming in Sequestrum, Cutleaf Journal, The Wrath-Bearing Tree, and Army University Press., among other publications. His Awards include First Place in the 2019 Heroes’ Voices National Poetry Contest, and Finalist in the 2020 Col. Darron L. Wright Memorial Writing Awards. Ben is also a nominee for the Pushcart Prize. Today, Ben lives in the Tri-Cities of Northeast Tennessee with his wife, their children, and a very mischievous hound dog. You can read more of Ben’s work at https://www.jbenweakley.com.

Hari Alluri (he/him/siya) is an award-winning migrant poet of Filipinx & South Asian descent on unceded Coast Salish territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples and Kwantlen, Katzie, and Kwikwetlem lands of Hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓-speaking peoples. Co-editor, with Seema Reza, of We Were Not Alone (CBAW), siya is the author of The Flayed City (Kaya), chapbook The Promise of Rust (Mouthfeel) and, most recently, Our Echo of Sudden Mercy (Next Page). His work appears widely in print and online, in these and other venues: PoetryPRISM InternationalRejected Litti-TCR 19: on ritual, and—via Split This Rock—Best of the Net 2022https://harialluri.com/

Carla Rachel Sameth was recently selected as the Co-Poet Laureate for Altadena, CA 2022-2024. Her chapbook, What Is Left was published December 2021 (dancing girl press) Carla’s award-winning memoir, One Day on the Gold Line will be reissued by Golden Foothills Press in November 2022. Her writing on blended/unblended, queer, multi-racial and single parent families appears in a variety of literary journals, newspapers and anthologies. Carla’s work has been twice named as Notable Essays of the Year in Best American Essays, and nominated for Best of the Net.. Her story “Graduation Day at Addiction High,” which originally appeared in Narratively, was also selected for Longread’s “Five Stories on Addiction.” A Pasadena Rose Poet, a West Hollywood Pride Poet, and a former PEN Teaching Artist, Carla teaches creative writing to high school and university students and has taught incarcerated youth. https://carlasameth.com/

Yesenia Montilla is an Afro-Latina poet & a daughter of immigrants. Her poetry has appeared in Gulf Coast, Prairie Schooner, & others. She received her MFA from Drew University & is a CantoMundo graduate fellow. Her first collection The Pink Box was Longlisted for a PEN award in 2016. Her second collection Muse Found in a Colonized Body (Four Way Books, 2022) is available now. https://www.yeseniamontilla.com/

Cynthia Dewi Oka is the author of A Tinderbox in Three Acts, a Blessing the Boats Selection chosen by Aracelis Girmay, published by BOA Editions in 2022, Fire Is Not A Country (Northwestern University Press), Salvage: Poems (Northwestern University Press) and Nomad of Salt and Hard Water (Thread Makes Blanket). She’s currently Poet in Residence at the Amy Clampitt House. https://www.cynthiadewioka.com/

Shuly Xóchitl Cawood is the author of several books, including the poetry collection, Trouble Can Be So Beautiful at the Beginning (Mercer University Press, 2021), winner of the Adrienne Bond Award for Poetry. Her forthcoming flash essay collection, What the Fortune Teller Would Have Said, won the 2022 Iron Horse Literary Review Chapbook Competition. Shuly has an MFA in creative writing and an MA in journalism. She loves teaching writing workshops, hiking in the woods, and watching trashy TV. Learn more about her at https://www.shulycawood.com.