Save the Date!

Los Angeles County

Poetry Out Loud 2022

Wednesday, February 9

Past Judges

Joe Hernández-Kolski

Joe Hernández-Kolski

JUDGE
Joe Hernández-Kolski is an actor/poet/comedian who is known for his live performances that are hard-hitting, truthful and incredibly funny. Originally from Chicago, Joe now lives in Los Angeles. He is a graduate of Princeton University where he worked closely with respected academics Dr. Cornel West and Nobel Prize Winner Toni Morrison. As a teacher, Joe continues to work with several organizations throughout Los Angeles teaching Hip-Hop Culture and Spoken Word Workshops. He currently hosts Downbeat 720, an open-mic for high school youth sponsored by the City of Santa Monica.
Marissa Herrera

Marissa Herrera

ACCURACY JUDGE
Herrera is an L.A. native and was quoted in her feature interview on the PBS documentary, Art & the Mind: “I was born to dance . . . my calling is to create.” With over two decades of experience as a director, producer, choreographer and leader in Arts Education, Marissa strives to share the stories that connect us all. Marissa has been featured in a cover story of the NY Times, Vanity Fair, and Voyage L.A. in recognition for her leadership in creating content that reflects the American Latino experience and the value of representation, diversity, and inclusion across all media and artistic platforms. She was also recognized by the Ford Motor Company in their 2016 national campaign “Unstoppable: Latina on the Move.” Marissa is the Founder of De Mi Alma Productions creating original work for Stage & TV/Film, Artistic Director of 4C LAB (501c3) and the Artistic Director of the Inner-City Arts Repertory Dance Company.
Molly Thornton

Molly Thornton

JUDGE
Molly Thornton is a Los Angeles based queer femme multi-genre writer and writing coach. Her manuscript Proof of You was long listed for both the 2020 [PANK] Big Book Contest and Dzanc Books' Diverse Voices Prize. Her writing has appeared in The LA Times, They Said collaborative writing anthology, Hippocampus Mag, The Seattle Globalist, Lavender Review, and more. She is a Lambda Literary Fellow and City of West Hollywood Pride Poet. Molly coaches clients in creative writing and teaches online and at literary centers including Hugo House, Beyond Baroque, and the LA LGBT Center. You can find her at mollythorntonwrites.com and on social media.
Karina Vahitova

Karina Vahitova

JUDGE
Karina Vahitova is a writer and movement artist from Kiev, Ukraine. Currently, she is the director of development at NOR Research Studio. Karina is a co-founder of The Void Academy, an educational platform helping artists learn how to make a living from their art. In 2017, she was a Lambda Literary fellow in poetry. She lives in Los Angeles.
Leonard Narumi

Leonard Narumi

TABULATOR

Leonard Narumi started his teaching career as Director of Instrumental Music at Schurr High School, his alma mater, in the Montebello Unified School District. He served in that capacity from 1983 to 2007; and retired as the district’s Visual and Performing Arts Coordinator in 2017. An “Honorary Life Member” of the Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association, Mr. Narumi is also a 2002 “Los Angeles County Teacher of the Year” who has been widely recognized by civic leaders, service groups, and professional organizations – testaments to his long-standing commitment of always trying to do what was best for students, families, and communities.

Mr. Narumi’s extensive resume includes being a freelance adjudicator, arts education consultant, serving as a conductor/educator/arranger with the North Torrance Youth Musicians Ensembles (NTYME), and having guest conducted honor bands for ABC Unified School District, Capistrano Unified School District, California State University Los Angeles, Kern County, and the SCSBOA. Mr. Narumi's wide-ranging musical experiences include having been selected to perform a piano concerto with the La Mirada Symphony when he was a freshman in high school, having served as director, instructor, and music arranger for the Koyasan Boy Scouts Troop 379 Drum & Bugle Corps, and having performed as a percussionist with various ensembles including the American Youth Symphony, Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra, Fullerton Civic Light Opera, Japanese Philharmonic of Los Angeles, Pacific Chorale, Pacific Symphony, Rio Hondo Symphony, Roger Wagner Chorale, San Fernando Valley Symphony, and Steven Traugh’s Supercussion.