Bluebird Reading Series
Su 7/13

Avenue 50 Studio

Hollywood Institute of Poetics

Invites you to a special edition 

for the celebration of the release of 

The Black Man of Happiness: In Pursuit of my ‘Unalienable Right’


Peter J. Harris
Gloria Enedina Alvarez (with Giovanni Verduzco)
Billy Burgos
Donny Jackson
Oshea Lujan
Abel Salas
Conney Williams

Hosted by:
Jessica Ceballos 

As Pharrell’s “Happy” becomes an irresistible global soundtrack, President Obama pledges to be My Brother’s Keeper, and foundations invest millions of dollars into programs for Black men, Peter J. Harris’ new book, The Black Man of Happiness: In Pursuit of My ‘Unalienable Right,’ is a jazzy journal that ranges in scope from Thomas Jefferson’s era to the Digital Age in search of the answer to the simple, startling question, What is a happy Black man?

The book is a publication of Peter J. Harris’ Black Man of Happiness Project, a creative, intellectual and artistic exploration of Black men and joy. 

What is a happy Black man? The Project explores African American life and history from a refreshing new angle: through the lens of happiness of the men whose survival, let alone joy, has never been a national priority.

More info at:

Books will be available for purchase and signing

as always – FREE!


Avenue 50 Studios
131 North Avenue 50
Highland Park, CA 90042


The Black Man of Happiness Project crystallizes more than 30 years of artistic & cultural work exploring the lives of Black men, including the 2011 collaboration with my daughter, Adenike A. Harris, on her Creative Master’s Thesis: “Restorative Notions: Regaining My Voice, Regaining My Father: A Creative Womanist Approach to Healing from Sexual Abuse,” (Georgia State University). In her thesis, she and I write a candid, ethical, loving call-and-response dialogue tracing how we worked together to confront, survive, and transcend her rape. (

My writing has been included in anthologies edited by, among others, Charles Johnson/John McCluskey Jr.; Rebecca Walker; Meri Danquah; Paula Woods/Felix Liddell; Terry McMillan; Kalamu ya Salaam; E. Ethelbert Miller; Juliette Harris/Pamela Johnson; and Gloria Wade Gayles. My magazine, “Genetic Dancers: The Artistry Within African/American Fathers,”published during the 1980s, was the first magazine of its kind and asserted that African American fathers become artists through the frictions of conscientious parenting.

My book, Hand Me My Griot Clothes: The Autobiography of Junior Baby, featured a philosophical elder Black man ruminating on life, love, and ethics, and won the PEN Oakland award for multicultural literature in 1993. In 2010, I wrote the forward to New Wine and Black Men’s Feet by Keith Antar Mason (Red Hen Press). My essay, “1,000 O’clock: Johnson Time,” was published in the 2009 anthology, The Black Body (Danquah) and extended the meditations of my 2004/2008 stage play, “The Johnson Chronicles: Truth & Tall Tales about My Penis.”

Chicana poet/intermedia artist, playwright, librettist, literary translator and curator, presently teaches creative writing and works as a consultant in public schools, universities, libraries, museums, and art centers. Her literary/artistic efforts have been recognized by the CAC, National Endowment for the Arts, Cultural Affairs Department, City of L.A., COLA Award, Poets & Writers, Inc., among others. She has published and read widely in the U.S., Latin America and Europe. Her plays and librettos for opera, Los Biombos, Cuento de un Soldado/Story of a Soldier, El Niño, have been produced 
internationally. Her books of poetry in English and Spanish include La Excusa/The Excuse and Emerging en un Mar De Olanes. Her poetry has been published in various anthologies and numerous periodicals. 

BILLY BURGOS is a Graphic Designer/Illustrator/Poet originally from Belize, Central America. Billy grew in the Leimert Park neighborhood of Los Angeles where he still resides. He is an active member of The Anansi Writer’s Workshop and a mainstay in the local L.A. poetry scene. Along with serving as a curator on for the past 6 years, Billy is also the host of Blog-talk Radio’s poetry show Word Ballast where he has made a name for himself by interviewing poets of color such as Nikkey Finney, Nikky Giovanni, Thomas Sayers Ellis and Jericho Brown . He has been published in numerous journals both in print and online. Billy is the co-editor of the poetry Broadsheet Sic 3 and has served as poetry facilitator of The Beyond Baroque poetry workshop as well as the host of The First Sunday Reading a monthly reading at Beyond Baroque Literary Centre in Venice Ca. In 2009 Billy was chosen as newer poet to watch by the L.A. Poetry Festival. His first collection of poetry titled Eulogy to an Unknown Tree was published by Writ Large Press in January 2013.

Clinical psychologist Dr. DONNY JACKSON is a trainer and consultant for SHIELDS for Families, the Creative Writing and Media Studies instructor for College Bridge Academy charter high school in Compton, as well as a Co-Executive Producer and Director in unscripted television and film, including “Teach: Tony Danza,” and “Perfectly Normal” for A&E, and, 2013’s “The Sheards” for BET and “R&B Divas: Atlanta,” on TVOne. In the written arts, Donny has enjoyed stints as an autobiography ghostwriter, playwright, and book critic, as well as speech writer for a diverse set of clients, from Blair Underwood to the Clinton White House. In the summer of 2013, he completed a 5-week run of his one man show, “One Man Shown” at the Greenway Court Theatre in Los Angeles, and has been an invited feature in southern California as a spoken word artist. 

ABEL SALAS is a poet and journalist based in Los Angeles. His poems have appeared in The Austin Chronicle, ZYZZYVA: A Journal of West Coast Art & Literature, Washington DC’s Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Cipactli, In Motion Magazine, Kuikatl: A XicanIndio Literary & Arts Journal and Huizache, the new literary journal published by Centro Victoria under the direction of Dagoberto Gilb. He currently edits and publishes Brooklyn & Boyle, a community arts newspaper distributed widely in LA’s East Side, and he has shared his poetry with audiences across the U.S., Mexico and Cuba, where he participated in the 13th Annual International Poetry Festival. His work as a journalist has been featured in the Los Angeles Times Magazine, LA Weekly, Latina Magazine, The New York Times, The San Antonio Current, The Brownsville Herald, OYE Magazine, Texas Observer, The Austin Chronicle and The Austin American-Statesman. A Co-founder of Corazon del Pueblo in Boyle Heights, Salas was also an early organizer with Poets Responding to SB1070 and coordinated a public reading on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. 

CONNEY WILLIAMS is a Los Angeles based poet, actor and performance artist originally from Shreveport, Louisiana where he worked a radio personality. He has two collections of poetry “Leaves of Spilled Spirit from an Untamed Poet (2002)” and his most recent, “Blues Red Soul Falsetto (2012).” His poetry has been published in various publications and anthologies. He is the Artistic Director at the World Stage Performance Gallery where he facilitates the Anansi Writers Workshop. He has been the Poet’s Stage Coordinator for the Leimert Park Book Fair . He has performed his poetry across the U.S. and regularly curates poetry events in Los Angeles.


the Bluebird Reading series is a component of 
Avenue 50 Studio’s literary arts programming.

Avenue 50 Studio is supported in part by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission; the California Community Foundation; the Department of Cultural Affairs

Avenue 50 Studio

jessica ceballos