The Writes of Spring Festival, Rio Hondo College’s annual two-day celebration of writers and writing, is held at the Wray Theater.
All events are FREE and open to the public. (Visitors can park in student lots during the event times.)
Wednesday, April 25
8:05 a.m. — Julian Bradley
Julian Bradley is a musician and video maker from the UK. After graduating with a degree in the creative arts, he moved to the US in 2011, where he started a YouTube channel and worked hard to grow his online audience. He was determined to find a way to work for himself and to make a living doing what he loves – which he now does full time. Julian combines his passion for teaching, video making, and entrepreneurship – and now shares his experiences and lessons learned from the last 10 years.
As a composer, performances of Julian’s work have included London’s National Gallery, St John’s Smith Square, St George’s Bristol, and the Royal Albert Hall. His paintings are autobiographical, self-revelatory, and document personal life experiences. Bradley has won several art prizes, and exhibited both in the UK and US. Julian gained his Masters in Music Composition at Bristol University, having previously studied Fine Art and Music at Lancaster University in conjunction with the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Julian Bradley is also the author of three e-books on Jazz Piano and the creator/owner of “Practice Room Hero,” a jazz theory website. Julian’s “Jazz Tutorial” YouTube channel has over 100,000 subscribers JazzHero & The Musical Ear
9:40 a.m. – Sara Saedi
Sara Saedi was born in Tehran, Iran, smack-dab in the middle of a war and an Islamic Revolution. She immigrated to the Bay Area with her family in 1982, where they remained undocumented for TWENTY years. Once a creative executive for ABC Daytime, Sara now writes novels for teens and TV for everyone. Credits include the ABC Daytime web series What If… (she won an Emmy), the FOX sitcom The Goodwin Games, and the hit CW drama iZombie.
Americanized: Rebel Without a Green Card is the hilarious, poignant, and true story of one teens’s experience growing up in America as an undocumented immigrant from the Middle East, perfect for fans of Mindy Kaling and Lena Dunham’s books.
Americanized follows Sara’s progress toward getting her green card, but that’s only a portion of her experiences as an Iranian-“American” teenager. From discovering that her parents secretly divorced to facilitate her mother’s green card application to learning how to tame her unibrow, Sara pivots gracefully from the terrifying prospect that she might be kicked out of the country at any time to the almost-as-terrifying possibility that she might be the only one of her friends without a date to the prom. This moving, often hilarious story is for anyone who has ever shared either fear.
She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, their son, and their pug, Mabel, who pretty much outshines everyone. Visit her Web page
“Filled with pop culture references, journal excerpts, photographs, and relatable coming-of-age content, this book will keep readers fully entertained while pushing them to deeper cultural understandings.”—School Library Journal, starred review
“This irresistible and timely memoir is hard to put down.”—Booklist, starred review
“With gumption, Saedi draws from her American-ness and Iranian-ness for a successful depiction of immigrant life in the U.S.: a must-read.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
11:15 a.m. – Alice Bag (Alicia “Alice” Armendariz)
Alice Bag is a singer/songwriter, musician, author, artist, educator and feminist. Alice was the lead singer and co-founder of the Bags, one of the first bands to form during the initial wave of punk rock in Los Angeles. The Alice Bag Band was featured in the seminal documentary on punk rock, The Decline of Western Civilization. Alice went on to perform in other groundbreaking bands, including Castration Squad, Cholita, and Las Tres. She has published two books, including the critically acclaimed memoir Violence Girl in 2011 (Feral House) and the 2015 self-published Pipe Bomb For the Soul, based on her teaching experiences in post-revolutionary Nicaragua. Alice’s work is included in the Smithsonian exhibition, American Sabor.
Bag was born and raised in East Los Angeles, California. Her father, Manuel Armendariz, was a self-employed carpenter who worked for a time in the Bracero program, and her mother, Candelaria “Candy” Armendariz, was a homemaker. Both of her parents were from Mexico.
As a member of the punk rock band the Bags, Alice was at the forefront of the L.A. punk rock scene in the late 1970s. Though punk rock is seen as a predominantly white male genre in the mainstream light; Bag describes the early movement as an extremely welcoming community being open to everyone, especially to women.
Throughout her years of gaining her education, Bag experienced not so friendly encounters and was picked on. During her middle school and high school years, she was picked on for her weight, her teeth, and her physical appearance. “And her painful middle school experiences as an overweight girl with buck teeth and glasses.” So she found that she was alone a lot of the time. That took a big part in her music tastes. It drew her to develop a certain liking in music such as Queen, David Bowie and Elton John. She became so into those artists that when she transferred high schools, people called her, “Ziggy” after David Bowie’s persona. This stage in her life guided her to transform into a rebellious, yet attentive teenager.
Teachers ridiculed her for not knowing English, long stints with no friends followed by a brief foray into cheerleading, close calls with law enforcement and a firsthand view of police mistreatment of Chicano rights activists, it’s clear to the reader how each experience contributes to the evolution of a stage persona. Alice began working at inner-city LA schools, teaching English, after she received her bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from California State University- Los Angeles. Visit her Web page
“Trailblazing” – Los Angeles Times
“She’s an icon in the punk world of Los Angeles and beyond.” – LA Weekly
“Bag continues to inspire new generations of musicians and feminists alike.” – Le Sigh
“As an author, educator, lifelong badass and the leader of The Bags, among many other bands, she’s been a prolific and guiding light for Chicana punks, and … she continues that force-of-nature output with fierce songs of protest and massive shredding.” – Jezebel
1:00 PM – River Deep Student Film Festival Screening RHC student films, in three categories. Screen shots from “Familiar Stranger” & “Loosen Up”
2:30 PM – River’s Voice Reading and pizza party. River’s Voice, Vol. 19 book-release party.
Come hear students read their award-winning works of fiction, poetry,
memoir, and drama.
Thursday, April 26
8:05 a.m. – Stephen Gutierrez
Stephen Gutierrez was born in the Los Angeles area and raised in City of Commerce in a decent neighborhood. His parents allowed him to leave when it was time—they had no choice, his father was in a convalescent home and his mother pleaded softly for him to stay but secretly she was glad for him. He went to college at Chico State University, graduated in four years, and washed dishes for a foolhardy year.
Next he left for Ithaca, New York, where he had been granted a fellowship at Cornell. He met a graduate student named Jacqueline Doyle and they moved to Fresno. He finished the M.F.A. and married Jacqueline, while living in Fresno. He now teaches at Cal State East Bay.
In 1996 his book Elements received the Charles H. and N. Mildred Nilon Excellence in Minority Fiction Award, and in 2010 he received an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation for the story collection Live from Fresno y Los. Visit his Web page
“Stephen D. Gutierrez’s new book of short fiction, Live from Fresno y Los, bears witness to the excitement and pain, exhilaration and disappointments, of growing up Chicano in Fresno and Los Angeles during the 1970s. He renders his world in honest, eloquent brush strokes, creating stories that are simultaneously grounded in a particular culture while remaining universal in their message. He does this without sacrificing his trademark sense of humor.”
— El Paso Times
9:40 a.m. – Jean Hegland
Jean Hegland was raised in Pullman, Washington, just eight miles from the Washington/Idaho border. From her parents she learned to love books, reading, and writing. She began college at Fairhaven College in Bellingham, Washington, and received her BA in Liberal Arts from Washington State University. In 1984, after working at a variety of jobs—from making stained glass windows for local businesses to housekeeping at a nursing home—she received a MA in Rhetoric and the Teaching of Composition from Eastern Washington University. She currently teaches Creative Writing, Literature, Critical Thinking, and Composition courses at Santa Rosa Junior College, in northern California.
Her newest novel, Into the Forest, has been called both poetic and a page-turner. It is the kind of book that some readers read slowly in order to savor every sentence, and that costs other readers to lose a night’s sleep, when they find that they cannot put it down. Set in the near-future, Into the Forest is a powerfully imagined novel that focuses on the relationship between two teenage sisters living alone in their Northern California forest home.
“Into the Forest is a highly original, thought-provoking story, filled with love and despair, hope and survival,
told with deceptive simplicity. It is the kind of book that can be enjoyed on several levels at once.”
–Barbara Walker, author of The Women’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets
“Beautifully written.” — Kirkus Reviews
11:15 a.m. – Dahlia Schweitzer
Dahlia Schweitzer is a pop culture critic and writer. Described by renowned author Toby Miller as “one of the world’s leading analysts of popular culture” and by Vogue as “sexy, rebellious, and cool,” Schweitzer writes about film, television, music, gender, identity, and everything in between. Her work can be found across mainstream, academic, and emergent channels. The Baton Rouge-born novelist, chanteuse, and performance artist studied at Wesleyan University, lived and worked in New York and Berlin, and moved to Los Angeles to complete her graduate work at the Art Center College of Design and the University of California-Los Angeles.
Her forthcoming book, Going Viral: Zombies, Viruses, and the End of the World, explores depictions of pandemics and outbreak narratives in contemporary American film and television. Visit her Web page
“Schweitzer sets up shop at the intersection of culture, science, and politics, and demonstrates—with deep research and penetrating insight—that there are things far more menacing than viral threats.”
— Jonathan Allen award-winning political journalist
“A highly infectious read. Schweitzer’s thought-provoking and meticulously researched account clearly outlines the relationship between the reality of viral threats and the Hollywood dramatization of the ‘outbreak narrative.'”
—Terry Matalas, 12 Monkeys co-creator, executive producer
“Dahlia Schweitzer is one of the world’s leading analysts of popular culture, in every conceivable manifestation. She is also one of our best writers: engaging, concise, yet alluring in the best sense. Going Viral takes on one of the questions of our time: the American obsession with sickness as a way of dealing with difference. Bravo!”
—Toby Miller, Universidad del Norte, Colombia
1:00 PM – River Deep Student Film Festival Film awards presented (award-winning films screened) Guest speaker: Teri Whittaker is a Grammy-Award-winning production designer and art director for film, TV, and music videos. Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry, Bruno Mars, Björk, Weezer, Ludacris, and Annie Lennox are just a few of the musical artists whose videos Whittaker has designed. She has worked with Spike Jonze and, most recently, with Jeremy Irons on a film that just wrapped and is premiering at the Newport Beach Film Festival later this month.
2:30 PM – River’s Voice Reading and pizza party. River’s Voice, Vol. 19 book-release party.
Come hear students read their award-winning works of fiction, poetry, memoir, and drama.
The 2017 festival included Lissa Price, Gustavo Arellano, Phranc, Seil Ju, and Jeff Garvin