Locavore Lit LA collaborates with teachers and students to coordinate visits by authors and artists from our online literary journal. During these classroom visits, authors speak about their stories, inspirations and careers, and guide students through creative writing exercises. In this way, writers serve as role model mentors, leading career development discussions with aspiring or reticent young writers, while helping learners at all levels hone their writing skills.
Specific stories are selected alongside partnering teachers to make sure they are age-appropriate and resonate with their English classes. Ideally the visiting authors and artists will have shared some of the same experiences growing up as our students. This underscores our key objective to share relevant contemporary writing and artwork in the hope that young people see themselves and their world represented in the stories and books they read. We have found that students love to dialogue with working authors and engage in the writing exercises. The students’ imaginations and their willingness to jump right in are inspiring.
All of our stories are accompanied by curriculum designed to enrich understanding of the work and strengthen reading, writing, verbal skills and critical thinking. Curriculum is designed to correlate with the Common Core Standards and may be utilized by instructors to achieve their overall learning objectives.
Light Bringer Project School Program Manager Angelina Coppola engages with students at West Adams Preparatory High School. Coppola’s short story “These Are My Children” was published in Issue 4 and “Haze” in Issue 6.
Michael Jaime-Becerra, winner of the International Latino Book Award and author of Every Night Is Ladies’ Night and This Time Tomorrow: A Novel, speaks to an English class at West Adams Preparatory High School about growing up in El Monte, his childhood love for video game arcades, and how his relationship with his father informs his work. Jaime-Becerra’s contribution to Locavore Lit LA Issue 3 is titled “1181 Durfee Avenue: 1983 to 1986.”
Erin Aubry Kaplan, contributing writer to the New York Times and former weekly columnist for the Los Angeles Times, leads a journalism workshop at West Adams Preparatory High School. Kaplan’s Locavore Lit LA journal stories include “Blue Like Me: On Race and Depression” and “The Butt,” both of which may be found in Issue 1.
Author Veda Stamps at West Adams Preparatory High School talks about her evolution as a writer and her short story “Entwined Notions” (Issue 5), defining the meaning of haiku, providing examples, and leading the students through a haiku creative writing activity. Stamps is the author of the middle grade novel Flexible Wings, Executive Director at Crenshaw YMCA LA, and co-owns The Ramsey Group, a community planning consulting group.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez, KPCC news reporter, author, and poet visits Foshay Learning Center High School, reading several poems, followed by a discussion with students, instruction on the “beat” of poetry, and leading the class in creating a collective spoken word poem. Guzman-Lopez’s “Vine a Los Angeles” was published in Issue 4.
Author and Locavore Lit LA founder Jervey Tervalon speaks to students at James A. Foshay Learning Center. Tervalon is an award-winning, Los Angeles Times best-selling author of five books, including Understand This, a novel based on his experiences teaching at Locke High School in Los Angeles, for which he won the Quality Paperback Book Club’s New Voices award. Tervalon was born in New Orleans, raised in Los Angeles, and is currently a lecturer at the College of Creative Studies at UC Santa Barbara. His Locavore Lit LA short story contributions include “Foshay in the Bad Days” (Issue 1), “Love Will Make You Naked” (Issue 2), and “West Coast Gumbo” (Issue 5).
Susan Straight is the author of ten books including the memoir In the Country of Women (named Best Book of the Year by NPR) and novels Between Heaven and Here and Take One Candle Light a Room. Straight signed copies of her novel Highwire Moon (finalist for the National Book Award) for 32 students in a sophomore English class at James A. Foshay Learning Center. Straight’s story “For Sale: Baby Shoes, Never Worn” was published in Issue 1.
Philippine-born and LA-raised, Elsa Valmidiano is the author of We Are No Longer Babaylan, a collection of essays (New Rivers Press, 2020). Her work is published in a vast number of literary journals and anthologies, and she is a law graduate of Syracuse University and holds an MFA from Mills College. Her short story “Room” was published in Issue 3. Below, she participates in a Locavore Lit LA author visit at Foshay Learning Center.
Bronwyn Maudlin is the author of the literary thriller Love Songs of the Revolution and the short story collection The Streetwise Cycle, and is creator of the zine collection The Democracy Series. Maudlin founded the online video literary magazine GuerrillaReads and is founding editor of the Artists 4 Democracy newsletter. Her short story “Burners” was published in Issue 3.
Rebecca Gonzales was raised and resides “one block East of El Pino” in East LA. Rebecca’s work has been published in various literary anthologies and journals such as Issue 1 of Dryland Lit, Brooklyn & Boyle, Hinchas de Poesía, The Más Tequila Review, and Cipatli Issues 3 and 5 of San Antonio’s St. Sucia, among others. “Nuevo Mexico Profundo” is her short story for Issue 4. Below, she participates in an author visit to Foshay Learning Center.
Mary Lea Carroll is the author of Somehow Saints: More Travels in the Search for the Saintly and Saint Everywhere. She’s been a freelance journalist and writers memoir and poetry. For many years, she was the “read-aloud lady” at school, the theater mom for grades K-12, and taught children’s creative writing. Participating in Locavore Lit LA’s visiting authors program, Carroll interacted with students at Foshay Learning center. Her short story “Mrs. McKay and the Dead Pony” is found in Issue 4.
Ivy Kuo is an English Language and Literature graduate of UCSB and the current Administrative Business Partner at YouTube Music. Her short story “The Lotus of the Muddy Waters” may be found in Issue 4.
Every short story included in a Locavore Lit LA journal issue has an accompanying illustration. Along with Locavore Lit LA authors, contributing artists are invited into the classroom to share their work and creative journey, and lead the students through an exercise commensurate to the medium used for the story’s illustration, such as printmaking, ink portrait painting, pastel portraiture, watercolors, collage, abstract art, and zine making.
Jimi Martinez visits Fairfax High School sharing his artwork from when he was a child, a teen, a student, and a professional. Martinez brought to class printmaking materials and conducted a demonstration, then asked students to create their own illustration for the Locavore Lit LA short story “In Transit” found in Issue 5. The winner won a stack of Martinez’s artwork. Martinez is an honors graduate from ArtCenter College of Design and was the head illustrator at UPROXX. He’s a portrait artist, working digitally and in watercolor and gouache, as well as being a plein air painter.
Locavore Lit LA Art Director, Pop Secret Gallery owner, and ArtCenter College of Design alum Scott Gandell visits students at Fairfax High School discussing the artwork he created for the short story, “Norm, Alive and Well” (Issue 2). Students participated in an ink portrait drawing exercise.
Illustrator and animator Santosh Oommen visits Fairfax High School, sharing a PowerPoint of the animation he has created for TV shows and commercials. Oommen described the process of storyboarding, then spurred students to construct their own 10-20 panel storyboard following the prompt, “what happened on your way to school today?” Oommen’s illustrations are paired with the Locavore Lit LA stories “The Lotus of the Muddy Waters” (Issue 4), “The Ancient Flocks of Wilson Street” (Issue 5), and “Drag” (Issue 6).
Artist Jen Swain visits Fairfax High School, exhibiting examples of her work and discussing her artistic process, including her impressive chalk murals. Students were provided with wooden blocks on which they could draw eyes and a portion of a face. At the end of class all of the blocks were assembled to make a collective art piece. Swain’s illustrations grace the short stories “The Dog Who Solved a Murder: A True Story” (Issue 3), “Women in the House of God” (Issue 4), and “The Baby on Baxter – Cicada – Help Wanted” (Issue 5) (pictured below).
Peter Paul presents his work at Fairfax High School. Paul is a layout and storyboard artist, and has worked on the TV series Duncanville and Warner Brothers’ Green Eggs and Ham, both on Netflix. He also worked as a story artist for Dreamworks and offers an “Introduction to Storyboarding” online class through the Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles. Paul’s illustration accompanies the short story “Blue Plaid” in Issue 6.
Artist Maddie Saunders projects examples of her work and discusses technique with Fairfax High School art students, leading them to create paintings, collages, and block prints. Saunders graduated with a degree in Illustration/Fine Art from ArtCenter College of Design. Her illustrations were created for the short stories “Creases” (Issue 4) and “Entwined Notions” (Issue 5).