Brian Sonia-Wallace was born in St. Louis, Missouri and raised in Culver City, California, and Santiago, Chile. He holds an MA in Sustainable Development from the University of St Andrews, Scotland. The author of the memoir The Poetry of Strangers (Harper Collins, 2020), his other publications include the chapbook, I sold these poems, now I want them back (Yak Press, 2016), a chapter on poetry-as-placemaking for Art & The City (Routledge, 2018), and writing in The Guardian, LitHub, and Rolling Stone. Sonia-Wallace curates an LGBTQ+ poetry column for The Pride LA and teaches creative writing through UCLA Writers’ Extension and Get Lit—Words Ignite. He has held residences from Amtrak, Dollar Shave Club, and the Mall of America, and runs the custom poetry business RENT Poet. Sonia-Wallace is the 4th Poet Laureate of the City of West Hollywood. In 2021, he received an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellowship.
In 2021, Brian Sonia-Wallace was named an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellow. The fellowship will support the ongoing Pride Poets project from a small ensemble, which has created custom poems for the public at Pride celebrations for the past two years, to a year-round platform for the LGBTQIA+ literary community. Based in West Hollywood, Pride Poets will invite the community globally by treating poetry as the new gay bar—a community watering hole and space for connection and activism. This decentralized, virtual model places poetry at the center of community-building and includes a slate of digital-writing workshops, community events, advocacy and youth projects, conceptualized like nights at a gay bar to cater to different sub-communities and to foster connections within and between intersecting LGBTQIA+ identities. Using West Hollywood’s name recognition in the community, this project seeks to establish poetry as a way for the LGBTQIA+ community to connect virtually in quarantine and beyond.