Emerging BIWOC Poet Spotlight

This monthly series features poems by women of color in the early stages of their publishing careers. It is our intention to create more space at Perugia for the work of poets who are Black, Indigenous, and women of color (BIWOC). We hope using our platform to celebrate this work will expand the readership of the poets we spotlight. This series aligns with Perugia’s mission to support and promote emerging women poets; featured poems will be from poets with no more than one published full-length collection. We’d love to hear from readers with suggestions for poems & poets to feature.

August 2023 Poet: Lauren L. Wheeler

Valencia Street on a Summer Night

The howling of boozehounds
outside the bar across the street
blends with the ear-splitting yodel 
of police cars and fire trucks speeding
to the latest Mission catastrophe.

I would close the windows, 
but it’s hot in here. The air should be Republican,
it’s so oppressive. In the kitchen,
the fan squeaks near the ceiling, useless and 
archaic as a butter churn, rotary phone, Victrola.

It’s so hot and only getting hotter. 
By the time the mosquitoes arrive,
all whirring cellophane wings,
I’m just a pile of sounds beside you,
moans and purrs and cries wrapped in skin. 

The night sighs as red digits switch places,
ushering in the morning’s music:
garbage trucks, the alarm’s faint bleating, 
and, occasionally, the chirp of a lone bird. 


In Between Places, Nomadic Press, 2022

Poet Bio

Lauren L. Wheeler writes poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and what happens when they rub up against each other. A recovering slam poet, she twice competed at the National Poetry Slam and has featured at Cornell University, where she studied English Literature, as well as in Los Angeles, Miami, Austin, and throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Lauren is the author of the poetry collection In Between Places (Nomadic Press, 2022). Her work has appeared online and in print in such publications as PANK, The Nervous Breakdown, The Rumpus, and the pop-culture website Black Nerd Problems. After many years working in the tech industry (video games! robots! self-driving cars!), Lauren now works in political communications and campaign management. She lives with her kid, spouse, and two brown dogs in West Oakland, California, also known as xučyun (Huichin), the unceded ancestral territory of the Chochenyo-speaking Ohlone people. Lauren can be found doomscrolling on Twitter and Bluesky as @fightingwords.

To learn more about Lauren L. Wheeler, visit her website.