On Saturday, August 17, Sevilla Writers House traveled to Oakland, California, to host Home: A Prose and Poetry Reading, with Bay Area wonders Allie Marini, Brennan DeFrisco, Alex Simand, Vernon Keeve III, and Nazelah Jamison. The event was hosted by and featured a reading from Sevilla founder Lyndsay Hall.
Allie Marini grew up in Tallahassee, FL, a place for which she is homesick often and which inspired much of her work shared at the reading. Her favorite memories from childhood include weekends with her grandparents in Hialeah, where her grandmother glamorously chain smoked Marlboro Reds with a cigarette holder while they watched The Young & The Restless & drank sweet tea. Allie has written chapbooks and “lands on lists sometimes,” she says.
Brennan DeFrisco has called the Bay Area home his whole life. He’s bounced around neighborhoods, but finds community in the area’s coffee shops, classrooms, bars, theaters, and bookstores. He used to think nothing would ever make him want to move from the Bay, until he met the love of his life, Allie Marini. He says, “Now, home is wherever she and I are together.” Brennan deFrisco is a National Poetry Slam finalist, Pushcart Prize nominee, Grand Slam Champion of Oakland, and an author with Nomadic Press.
Alex literally yelled at me over email for asking him what he considers home, and he used the words “angst” and “unmoored” in his rant. He was born in Russia, grew up and largely considers home Toronto, Canada, and now lives in the Mission. One of his favorite childhood memories was spending time at Stanley the Latvian beekeeper’s apiary up in Northern Ontario and petting/ cuddling his wolf-dog named Bacardi. Alex Simand is a writer who is humble to a fault and did not provide me a bio for this event, but he’s also one of my favorite and most beloved humans on the planet. Read his stuff at http://www.alexsimand.com.
Vernon Keeve III calls Oakland home, but he grew up on the east side of the country in Virginia, which serves as inspiration for much of his writing and from where his family would road trip twelve hours to Disney World and eat ice cold peaches and nectarines. He works as a teacher, has a collection of poetry published with Nomadic Press called Southern Migrant Mixtape, and he participates on panels involving sexuality, race, and religion’s influence on his writing.
For Nazelah Jamison, home has always been California; even while growing up in South Carolina in Georgia, California was the destination. In 2017, she wrote and performed a poem about Oakland in a video for the Golden State Warriors, which was shown on the Jumbotron at the Coliseum on Town Night in November of that year. She’s been writing ever since she won a poetry contest in 4th grade, and she began slamming in 1999. Since then Nazelah has performed on and coached 10 teams from the Bay Area to the National Poetry Slam, self-published 3 chapbooks, and in 2016 I published her first official chapbook with Nomadic Press called Evolutionary Heart. She closed the evening with a performance of her spoken word piece on Oakland.