Start A Press (8/21)

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How to Get Published with a Press – or Start One of Your Own

Nikia Chaney (Jamii Publishing), Eric DeVaughnn (innateDIVINITYbooks),  
Camari Hawkins (Mama’s Kitchen Press), and Hiram Sims (World Stage Press)
Hosted by James Coats

Free • Sunday, August 21, 2022 
2:00-3:30 PM (PDT) 
All are welcome

Poet and educator James Coats presents a conversation with four dynamic small press founders, Nikia Chaney (Jamii Publishing), Eric DeVaughnn (innateDIVINITYbooks), Camari Hawkins (Mama’s Kitchen Press), and Hiram Sims (World Stage Press). Find inspiration in their stories, learn how they founded their presses, and discover the impact they are making in their communities through the literary arts. Their experiences, challenges, and successes will shine a light on what it takes to serve an often-underrepresented community.

Also, uncover the mysteries of what publishers look for when selecting authors to publish. Find ways to stand out from the crowd – and even how to create your own press to help share the voices of those in your own community.

Eric DeVaughnn is a writer, poet, and spoken word artist on a quest to uncover honesty in art. At an early age, he developed an almost reverent appreciation for all things creative. His mission is to seek and express truth, and to uphold the standard of excellence established well before him. He has been a featured reader and guest performer on many diverse stages and venues United States. Ever the proponent for critical thinking and challenging perception, Eric uses wordplay and storytelling to examine the higher truths of life under the moniker “Thought Requires Uncommon Effort,” or simply: T . R . U . E

Conceived in 2018, innateDIVINITYbooks is a publishing group seeking to create a platform for underrepresented artists. This Inland Empire-based company provides creative consulting for local communities. Our services include publishing individual authors and anthologies and providing information about self-publishing, manuscript editing, formatting, and layout and cover design.

Camari Carter-Hawkins is the author of Death by Comb, a stellar body of poetry that seeks to normalize natural hair and find solid ground in an ever-changing world, and Write Back to You, a guided journal for writing yourself back into your life. Camari leads journaling workshops across Los Angeles and beyond. Camari is a fellow of the Community Literature Initiative Poetry Writing Program (CLI) and is a proud advisor of CLI and World Stage Press.

The idea for Mama’s Kitchen Press began in 2019 and launched in 2021. This press was birthed in Camari Hawkins’ grandmother’s kitchen while speaking with her and her mother. She thought about how personal, important, heart-felt conversations happen in kitchens. Not only does Mama’s Kitchen Press seek to support and prioritize Black Voices, but they also seek to publish books that are personal, intimate, and heartfelt.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Hiram Sims is a poet, essayist, and creative writing professor. He received a BA in creative writing and an MPW in poetry from the University of Southern California. In addition to teaching essay writing, creative writing, and literature, he has published three collections of poetry including Poems of a Young, Troubled Mind (2007), Write or Die: An Anthology of Poetry from the Urban Poet’s Workshop (2008), and PHOTOETRY: Poetry and Photography from South Central (2013) as well as the creative writing textbook, These Pages Speak (2015). He is the founder of Community Literature Initiative, a non-profit organization dedicated to teaching writers of color how to write and publish books, the Sims Library of Poetry, and the co-founder of World Stage Press.

World Stage Press is a publishing house in Leimert Park dedicated to the creation and proliferation of African-American Literature. The World Stage Press’s dedication to the community it serves runs deep. It began as a small publishing arm to literary workshops at the historical World Stage Performance Gallery, founded by icons Kamau Daaood and Billy Higgins. In 2013, Hiram Sims and Conney Williams were inspired to grow the mission of the World Stage and create a full time press dedicated as a place for the community to access its own stories. World Stage Press continues to pay homage to its history and roots by identifying, supporting, and promoting creatives within the community by providing resources and a platform for community based literature. The press does so through education (Community Literature Initiative), publication (World Stage Press), and preservation (The Sims Library).

A multi-genre artist, Nikia Chaney writes poetry, science fiction, nonfiction, and she creates textual art. Her latest books are her memoir Ladybug (Inlandia, 2022), and the forthcoming poetry collection to stir & (Word Works, 2022) which won the 2022 Hilary Tham Award. She is founding editor of Jamii Publishing, a publishing imprint dedicated to fostering community among poets and writers. She served as Inlandia Literary Laureate from 2016-2018. She teaches in Santa Cruz, CA.

The goal at Jamii Publishing is to put great books out into the world for artists who might not have a chance otherwise. Jamii seeks books that push boundaries, and act as endeavors for a larger goal, by teaching, sparking conversation, highlighting a social need, making a soul laugh. Jamii publishes chapbooks, artbooks, spoken word CD’s, broadsides, anthologies, and handmade books for women and people of color as a means of breaking down barriers and creating community. Jamii Publishing believes that poetry is not a solitary art. Poetry is an art form that brings people together. 

Author, speaker, and poet James Coats was born in Los Angeles and raised in Southern California. He has an intense feeling for all things creative. He strives to capture authentic self-expression through his work. James’ creative bent tends toward photography, painting, and writing. Coats, a nationally featured poet, won the 2021 San Gabriel Poetry Slam. Coats has two collections of poetry, self-published, available on Amazon. If I had Lived was published in 2018 and All The Ways You Are Wonderful in 2020.

The Blacklandia Events Series was initiated in 2020 in response to the murder of George Floyd at the hands of the police on May 25th of that year. As an organization centered around the power of words, and one that values speaking up and speaking out, Inlandia made a renewed and public commitment to providing a space for people in the Black community to come together. From that arose a Black-led Black Voices Steering Committee and a new series of events, Blacklandia.

Inlandia workshops are supported in part by the California Arts Council, a state agency, and also in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. Learn more at To find out more about how the National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit

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