Aspiring and Established poets to come together at the Peer Poet Program

Poetry is a child’s crying voice that beckons to be heard, and defies age, experience, and circumstances. All it needs is for the right set of ears for it to be heard and appreciated, the right frame of mind to accept and understand its message, and the right mentor to help it develop into a matured and articulate sound- a meaningful thought.

On Saturday, November 5th, 2011, the Nuvein Foundation in partnership with the Norwood Branch of the LA County Public Library will create an opportunity for young aspiring poets from grades 6-12 from across the San Gabriel Valley to be paired up with established Southern California poets who either through publication, online blogs and media, and/or the spoken word circuit in order to receive hands on feedback, encouragement, recommendations, and mentorship for them to develop their poetic craft.

Among those scheduled to serve as Peet Poets (mentors) are:

Mike Sonksen, aka Mike the Poet- A 3rd-generation LA native acclaimed for poetry performances, published articles & legendary city tours. His published works have received acclaim across many poetic and literary circles, as some of his published works have been added to the curriculum of several universities. Mike has provided spoken word performances, poetry workshops, and  helped organize poetic events at museums, parks, schools, and other public landmarks and community centers across Southern California as he believes in the power of poetry’s reach regardless of environment, situation, and circumstances. Active as a  poet, journalist, historian, tour guide, and teacher, Mike also hosts a poetry open mic in Downtown Los Angeles.

Rick Stepp-BollingA former educator for reading, study techniques, and writing at Mt. San Antonio College and creative writing professor at Citrus College, whose relationship with poetry has spanned over forty-five years. A published poet and writer, he has participated with various poetry and creative writing groups and events across the San Gabriel Valley and Los Angeles and is currently at work on several writing projects, including preparing for live performances at future artistic events across the San Gabriel Valley. Rick draws his poetic themes from the world around him as he is generally  inspired by what life has to offer and what it denies all of us.

Ryan Hernandez- A musician, blogger, singer-songwriter, and poet whose passion for music is matched for that of the spoken word. He has been involved with several musical, artistic, and spoken word events and groups locally and across Los Angeles as part of his prior musical background and has begun to branch out as a spoken word artist . Ryan  operates an online blog, a poetry website, and a music site, and is working towards a poetry publication in the near future. Ryan believes in the power of poetry, spoken or written, to tell a story, and explores themes of love and relationships, as well as more socially conscious and political messages.

Sharon Rizk- A psychologist and Marriage & Family Therapist with a private practice in Pasadena, a contracted non-profit supervisor, as well as part-time professor at Citrus College, who wrote her first poem at the age of ten years old. She has participated in numerous writing and poetry groups across the San Gabriel Valley and Los Angeles, and recently co-organized the a writing retreat  in Monrovia Canyon. Sharon is a published poet, who also has some of her poetry recorded, and who has conducted poetry workshops out of her office, as she believes in the power of reading and writing poetry to heal wounds and foster growth.

Toti O’ Brien– A poet and writer fluent in Italian, English, and other languages who has been involved with poetry for abotu 38 years, alternating throughout those years with other literary and artistic forms. Toti’s works have been published in various languages and in many forms of media online and in other countries. She currently participates with creative writing and  poetry groups, attending workshops and participating at events in Pasadena, La Canada-Flintridge and other parts of the San Gabriel Valley and Los Angeles.  Toti has also been a guest poet as part of a summer creative writing and poetry course at Occidental College. Present in her poetry are themes of family and relationships, journeys and  and displacements,  love and loss, the legacy of historical figures, and the metaphors of religion.

Gary Imperial- A poet and writer who has been writing poetry on and off, though mostly on for the last 34 years. His early influences were narrative rhyme poetry like The Night Before Christmas and Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven.  It was in that style of narrative rhyme that he wrote  a sequel to The Headless Horsemen of Sleepy Hollow entitled Ichabod’s Revenge.  Gary has had his poetry published in several publications, with the most recent being in
the San Gabriel Valley Poetry Quarterly.  He is presently a member and organizer of a poetry group in Whittier and has been thus involved for the last nine years.

Mina Kirby- A former collegiate educator who had her poetry first published in a state high school anthology during her junior year in middle school. She took a hiatus from poetry for much of her transition from school age to professional life, as she eventually became  a mathematics professor at East Los Angeles Community College. However, while instructing and mentoring collegiate students, she  wrote numerous songs about mathematics and published a book entitled Mathematical Dreams. Having retired, she began to explore her interest in poetry and prose composition. She has published several chapbooks, and is currently on working on future publications. Mina is a member of several poetry and creative writing groups out of the San Gabriel Valley and Los Angeles, has been featured as part of a artistic television show, and has recited poetry at the Pasadena Art Walk.

Mary Torregrossa- An English as a Second Language (ESL) instructor working in the San Gabriel Valley, her interest in poetry began during her childhood growing up in Rhode Island. She participated in an Summer Arts program during her sophomore year in high school, where she first began writing poetry in a group setting. In her collegiate years, she nurtured her talents as an Arts Page Editor. Recently, Mary continued to develop her poetry as member of several poetry groups across Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley, performing her poetry in various settings and for various events, as well as facilitating numerous poetry writing and critique workshops. A published poet and devoted philanthropist, the sale of one of her chapbooks of poetry entitled Shoebox Poems, went towards a foster care center in Pasadena. Mary is a narrative poet, as she believes in a poems interesting ability to tell a story both passionately , and draws her inspiration from events in her life, and the people and places she has come across.

Dennis Gomez– A poet, musician, event organizer, entrepreneur,  and artist who has been writing Hip Hop poetry for over 20 years. He has spent these years writing about things that he would observe in his environment, politics, social circumstance as well as creating story lines,  depicting them as cleverly as possible with words (that rhyme). He is not only a poet, but also a Visual Artist and Musician.  He is the founder of a weekly Trip-Hop and Downtempo excursion experience in Los Angeles, and runs a website featuring the latest recordings from this weekly auditory experience. He is also the president of a local graphic arts and media design company. He is also currently working on art for his first personal Art Exhibit and continues to work on his Hip-Hop project “Non Human Intelligence”  whose first video was recently voted “Best New Video” on MTVu’s Freshmen.  You can say Poetry and Arts are in his blood: Gomez’s Great Uncle Rubén Dario is known as the “Father of Romanticism”, and his Uncle is the abstract Painter, Orlando Sobalvarro.

for more information on this event contact either:

Ana Garcia at the Norwood Library at (626) 443-3147.


Christopher Trevilla of the Nuvein Foundation at