Long Beach City College English Professor Hiram Sims will be signing copies of his recently released book, PHOTOETRY: Poetry and Photography from South Central, this Sunday at Apostrophe Books. The book fuses poetry and photography is a lyrical and visual dance: Some photographs are inspired by completed poems. Some poems are inspired by photographs.
To learn more about Sims and his work, this columnist took the opportunity to ask him a few questions ... and discovered that Long Beach itself inspired the poet in him.
Carma Spence: What types of genres do you like to write?
Hiram Sims: Classic poetry and spoken work poetry.
CS: What value does your book provide to the Los Angeles Community?
HS: My book, PHOTOETRY: Poetry and Photography from South Central, is a testament to the humanity of my community. Many people think South Central is a place where violent, aggressive savages live. The book serves to portray the human experiences that transpire there.
CS: Where do you get your ideas?
HS: My writing takes it inspiration from the City of South Central itself. There is so much language that emerges from the street, its inhabitants, and the people who live, work sleep, praise God and commit crimes there. The inspiration comes from walking down the street.
CS: Did you always like writing?
HS: I discovered poetry at the age of 10 right here in Long Beach. My mother would send me to the Thrifty's on Los Coyotes Diagonal to buy toilet paper and other household products. While shopping for those things, I would always read greeting cards that had within them, decorative poems. They ranged from poems to console, poems to congratulate, poems to celebrate, and poems to express romantic sentiment. I used to copy the poems down, change a few words around, and give them to girls at school. It worked. After that, I realized the power of poetry.
CS: Do you have a set schedule to do your writing?
HS: I write at night after my babies go to sleep. I have three very young daughters, so when I get off work at Long Beach City College, they have my attention until they go to bed. I write from 10pm to about 1am many nights. I also get inspired every time I go to a poetry lounge to read.
CS: How do you feel about the current state of writing? Is this a good time for writers?
HS: Since I teach essay writing and creative writing, I am around writers all day everyday. They seem to be inspired, which inspires me. The internet gives us so much access to free writing, so that phenomenon has changed everything. I can Youtube Langston Hughes and listen to him read poetry. That was impossible before.
CS: What is the best advice you've ever received as a writer?
HS: The best advice I've ever received was to stay in school. I say that because the structure of a class demands and produces writing. I have the quantity of writing I have today because of undergraduate and graduate writing classes that demanded the writing from me. To this day it hasn't changed because now my students demand the writing from me. I have not left school, I just switched seats in the classroom.
CS: What is the best advice you can give as a writer?
HS: My best advice is to read and write and read. Read other writers because they will teach you how to be great. Write words because life demands to be expressed that way from us writers. Read aloud at open mics, poetry readings, fiction readings, or wherever people will listen because that action will open up the entire writing community to you. And more than likely, it will cause you to hear other great writers, and read their work. Only now, you can shake their hand, and have them sign your book.
CS: What's next for you and your writing?
HS: My next book of PHOTOETRY will be from prison. For some reason, the language that emerges from bondage is calling to me.
CS: Are you a Long Beach native or a transplant?
HS: I spent a portion of my life in Long Beach, but my parents moved every year to a different part of LA County. I claim the whole thing.
CS: What do you like about being a writer in Long Beach?
HS: The best thing about this city has always been the ocean. I love going there to write. God and I have many conversations there, and I often read him poetry.
For more information about Sims and his work, visit www.figueroapress.com.
Book signing of PHOTOETRY: Poetry and Photography from South Central with Long Beach author Hiram Sims
4712 East 2nd Street
Long Beach, Calif.
Sunday, September 22, 2013
4:30 to 6:30 pm
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