Read & Write with Dr. Han: Creative Process, PEN-Los Angeles Emerging Voices, ‘Company’


A poem for National Poetry Month: ‘Company’. Stay healthy everyone. The world awaits and needs your well-being. We will be better than we were before. Keep the faith and believe in the possibility.

I’m grateful to say that I participated in the PEN Emerging Voices Workshop, part of PEN America. PEN fostered then, and continues to nurture, the idea of voice and letters, and dedicates its efforts to protecting the beauty and ferocity of our humanity as expressed in speech, words, and writing. (Shout out to Tammy Lai-Ming Ho, PEN president of Hong Kong!)

I am deeply honored to be affiliated with PEN. PEN sings to what we should be as writers, artists, and citizens. It is a special group to be a part of, particularly within the context of Los Angeles and Hollywood. PEN reminds us: The Word Matters.


Huge thanks to those who were with me in the literary trenches: Shonda Buchanan Renee Simms Carl Peel Rhonda Mitchell and more–William Archila, Lisa Nunez-Hancock, and those of an earlier cohort like Noel Alumit without whom I would not even be an alum! You all as writers, poets, thinkers, and dreamers changed my life. You were and are people who honor the muse and the voice, who deeply feel the call to speak and express, to tell the truths and sorrows and joys of living.

I saw then what it meant to write from a deeply intimate space, what it meant to create with joy and hope, with compassion and belief. My anguish at not writing and living up to your work, my desire for approval, my pleasure hearing your writing, my understanding that I was in the presence of those who wrote the heart and spirit, my determination to write better. It was all there. I will always endeavor, to the best of my ability, to write the truths that all of you write in life, and in books and poems and stories; I will strive to fight the good fight of freedom of expression and personal belief; I will try always to stand for justice over greed, to live honestly in words on the page and yes, in real life.


by Stephanie Han

With the tuck into hard night

we have become more

and less of who we sleep to be.

This disease is the killing.

Fear bred the dream

of kindness between toes and stars.

Through lips and water

we know justice is what we swim for.

Paddle to safety, to land, to shore.

Love is willed beyond salt and blue.

Share food on screens and know this:

We are nothing without belief.

Clap. Sing. Masks rip our worries

to shreds.  Open the hope of divine skin,

soft new and old. The fat stored

for lean times? Use it up. Now.

Company calls. You. Me.

The distance is as real as our

bicycle hearts. The stranger

across the street, whose eyes

tell us that holy is who we

are and were, is always, always

the best china guest

we invite into our home.

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