Why We Write: Roadshow – April

RSVP / Seating Limited


We’re excited to announce our spotlight speakers and guest host for the special Why We Write: Roadshow event at The LAB Anti-Mall, Costa Mesa on Wednesday, April 18. Interested in joining the Why We Write: Roadshow? Submit your essay for consideration.

Jonathan Alexander is a writer, literacy scholar, and cultural critic. The author, co-author or editor of thirteen books, he is Chancellor’s Professor of English and Informatics at the University of California, Irvine, where he also serves as the Founding Director of the Center for Excellence in Writing & Communication.  He is the YA editor and a frequent contributor for the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Mike Gravagno spent seven years in the California National Guard as an Arabic translator, and holds a BA in creative writing from Columbia University in New York, and a MFA from Chapman University. His poems, interviews, and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Calliope, TAB, The Gordion Review, and the poetry anthology, Lullaby of Teeth. He hosts the Writers’ Block podcast and co-hosts the Super Hero Hour Hour from YourPopFilter.com, and produces the Coast Conversation (where he has to live down the name Millennial Mike). Mike lives in Long Beach, California with his fiancée, and fears one day robots will destroy us all.

Natalie Green is the programs coordinator at PEN America Los Angeles. She focuses on Free Expression programs , the Emerging Voices Fellowship , and all PEN in the Community programming, including Writers in Residence and guest speaker program s, the book club , and the public author series PEN Presents. She graduated from UCLA in 2017 , where she was awarded honors for her short story collection Lost Angeles. As an undergraduate, she managed Westwind, UCLA’s Journal of the Arts, curated readings, and wrote and edited for The Daily Bruin.

Sam Ortiz is a graduate student at CSU Fullerton, where he serves as a teaching associate and president of the campus creative writing club. Although he plans to continue teaching after finishing up his MA, poetry is his first love. He is currently working on a manuscript. His poetic influences include the confessional tradition, memes, and the cat that wanders around outside his apartment. Some of his writings can be found at scrawlsandstuff.tumblr.com.

Hana Brannigan, our Guest Host, is first-generation born and raised in Orange County. She grew up a synchronized swimmer, which probably contributes to her love for some friendly competition. She graduated from UC Davis with a communication degree and was a proud leader of 3 different clubs while there: Spoon University, the Vietnamese Student Association, and The Body Project. She now works as the marketing coordinator for Wild Attire, Inc., living out her social media marketing dream. On the side, she manages her own Instagram account (@thishanabee) that focuses on mental wellness and eating disorder awareness – her passion since the topic hits close to home. On her free time, Hana loves to read, write, go on hikes, and obsess over Game of Thrones.



Join the community and submit, subscribe, and support the Why We Write: Roadshow and Orange County Tour. Live events will be produced throughout Orange County and feature author readings from curated essay submissions. Each event will be recorded for audio podcast and video documentary. Produced in partnership with Anaheim Packing District and The LAB.

The LAB Anti-Mall, Costa Mesa
Wednesday, April 18 / Free
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Cooks Chapel, Packing House, Anaheim
Wednesday, May 16 / $9
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

1888 Center, Orange
Wednesday, June 20 / $9
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Inspired by George Orwell’s 1946 essay “Why I Write,” we developed an introspective project to highlight our motives for writing and asked the international community to share their story and join the conversation.

Over the last month, this collaborative project received submissions from Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Denmark, England, India, Indonesia, Israel, Malta, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Scotland, Singapore, United Kingdom, and 33 States in America.

Why We Write is produced in conjunction with the 1888 Podcast Network—a curated collection of educational and entertaining podcasts. Each program is designed to provide a unique platform for industry innovators to share stories about art, literature, music, history, science, or technology.

Select episodes are presented live at the 1888 Center or around Orange County, California. All programs are recorded and archived as a free resource to download and stream on our website or with your favorite podcast app.

Artwork by David Moscati.