Peter J. Harris

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Co-Poet Laureate of Altadena, California, 2022–2024

Peter J. Harris is a graduate of Howard University. He is the author of various books, including Safe Arms: 20 Love & Erotic Poems (w/an Ooh Baby Baby moan) (FlowerSong Press, 2022), featuring Spanish translations by Francisco Letelier​​; SongAgain (Beyond Baroque Books, 2022); Bless the Ashes (Tia Chucha Press, 2014), which won the PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Award; The Black Man of Happiness: In Pursuit of My Unalienable Right (The Black Man of Happiness Project, 2014), winner of the American Book Award; and Hand Me My Griot Clothes: The Autobiography of Junior Baby (Black Classic Press, 1993), winner of the PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Award. Harris and his daughter, Adenike A. Harris, are contributors to Love WITH Accountability: Digging up the Roots of Child Sexual Abuse (AK Press, 2019), edited by Aishah Shahidah Simmons. 

Harris is the founding director of The Black Man of Happiness Project and writes the blog Wreaking Happiness: A Joyful Living Journal. He was the founding publisher and editor of the magazines The Drumming Between Us: Black Love & Erotic Poetry (1994–99) and Genetic Dancers: The Magazine for and about the Artistry within African/American Fathers (1984–88). From 1999 to 2004, Harris was also the producer and host of Inspiration House: VoiceMusic for Whole Living, a weekly radio show on KPFK-FM Los Angeles featuring poets who read their work to recorded music.

Harris is a fellow of the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities at the University of Southern California, a 2023 artist in residence at The Nicholson Project in Washington, D.C., and was the 2018 City of Los Angeles (COLA) Fellow in literary arts. Since 1992, Harris has been a member of the Anansi Writers Workshop at the World Stage in Los Angeles’s Leimert Park.

A native of Washington, D.C., Harris lives in Altadena, California, where he serves as Altadena’s poet laureate editor in chief through 2024, alongside Carla Sameth, who is Altadena’s poet laureate for community events. In 2023, Harris received an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellowship