"Letter to Los Angeles" by Nikolas Whitehead
by Nikolas Whitehead
My first trip to LA was one for the books. I’ll never forget the feeling I had looking out onto the L.A. skyline from the hills of West Hollywood. Just being around millions of people creating their own path to follow their passions and dreams gave me a refreshed sense of entrepreneurship. I was in a blanket stage of uncertainty prior to my trip wondering what it is that will make me happy. I’ve been in business for 3 years and I love what I do, but I felt stuck as if my creativity was draped in lethargy. All of this to preface my concluding evening of the trip.
I requested to be taken somewhere with good vibes. I had gotten great vibes from LA as a city, but this setting was a bit more interpersonal. I met up with my new friend Angela who was kind enough to invite me to Mike Sonksen’s reception for his new poetry book, Letters to My City. When I arrived I noticed it wasn't the type of venue that I expected, but rather a library. I was overcome by intrigue.
As we made our way into the reception room, I saw the dimly lit atmosphere was filled by no more than 20 people. It reminded me of a small theater. When we arrived there was a musician playing his guitar as if his fingers were fused with the strings. His sound and his ability were so smooth. The air was light and full of appreciation. Several of Mike’s friends came up to give their stories of how they had met Mike along their journeys. It was interesting to see how everyone’s web connected through the former LA tour guide turned poet.
Two of the most memorable writers for me were Khadijah McCaskill and Terry Robinson. Terry read a poem of his which he wrote for a friend of his in the past, and since Mike was such a fan of this work he decided to share this piece with us. It highlighted the disappointment that surfaces when the dynamic of professional relationships are much more “take” than “give”.
Making these type of connections often leads people to sell out or lose themselves in the process. Inconsistencies with expectations vs. execution in these relationships can breed self-doubt. The overall message was that we all experience these situations, and at the end of the day, any surface relationship is not needed for the development of self, or inner peace. Being true to one’s self is where the peace lies. When we create it is for our own self reflection and digestion of thought. We share with others not as a means to open the editor’s option to bastardize our work, but in hopes that people will take from it whatever it is that they need in that moment.
Robinson’s piece, “Befriending Ivahn John” related to me on so many levels because I had been experiencing that same struggle. I’m changing my work to make it more relatable and understandable because I’ve been holding weight on the promises by people in which I look up to in their respective profession amongst other struggles as well. At this place and time it helped me gather the message of this trip. It rekindled my creativity and being in a room full of authors, poets, and musicians who inspire others to be themselves helped me feel as if my authenticity was appreciated by a room full of strangers. I felt right at home in a place I had never been, around people I had never met.
After the event, I had the opportunity to converse with Mike and many of the friends who shared their works with us, and it further cemented the gratitude that I had for their art. The entire event was so welcoming, and enlightening that I couldn't help but think about how eager I am to be right back here around this crowd. A crowd of proudly organic artists of all types. These are how life-long friendships are built, and I’m fortunate to have had the opportunity to be around so much talent.
That being said, I wouldn't have had this opportunity without the invitation from the incredibly talented, Angela Butkus. Big thank you to her, and to all of the friends that welcomed me with open arms, and open ears.