When Cori Bratby-Rudd (Critical Studies MFA 19) attended the Lambda Literary Retreat for LGBTQ writers in 2018, she found it to be an inspiring and nurturing community. But she was struck by something else that she noticed about the people who were in attendance.
“A lot of the writers that I met were from Los Angeles,” she said. “But I was surprised that we didn’t know each other already. We had this community but we weren’t aware of it.”
That’s when her idea for the Influx Collectiv came to life. This LA -based queer reading series, which Bratby-Rudd co-founded with Catherine Chen, was looking to capture the essence of the Lambda Literary Retreat and bring its supportive energy to Southern California. The goal was to host events and workshops that would provide a space for uplifting the voices of queer writers from across the region.
For over a year, the Influx Collective hosted events around LA, placing a particular focus on regions that have been historically devoid of such opportunities. And it wasn’t long before the organization found the community that they had been looking to attract. They even found themselves hosting after show open-mic events in order to accommodate the growing interest that they were generating.
When the pandemic struck in 2020, Influx Collectiv was forced to do what so many other organizations did and make a quick pivot away from in-person events. That’s where Influx Collectiv: The Podcast comes in. Funded, in part, by an Alumnx Council Seed Grant, the podcast’s first season was released during the summer of 2021 and focused on the undocumented queer community. “Walking Amongst the Rubble: Undocuqueer Pride,” was a four-episode season that includes poetry performances and interviews with award-winning undocuqueer poets Roxana Preciado, Féi Hernandez, Yessica Avila, and Marinna Benzon, as well as Diana Gutierrez, Bratby-Rudd’s wife who took over as her collaborator when Chen left the organization.
Doing a podcast enabled Bratby-Rudd and Gutierrez to engage with artists—and amplify their voices—in an entirely new way. “We had very intimate, one-on-one conversations with the poets,” Guitierrez said. “And it was really interesting to be able to hone in a bit more on their work.”
It was also important for Bratby-Rudd and Gutierrez to provide a platform for the highly underrecognized community of undocumented queer people. Gutierrez is formerly undocumented herself and understands their need for a voice.
As the region emerged from the Omicron surge, the Influx Collective began organizing events again, including a reading at the Sims Library Of Poetry, a Black-owned poetry and community space in South LA, on March 18. Their most immediate goal now is to get back to offering a regular platform for queer poets.
“We’re just trying to continue the projects that we have going and continue to do them well,” Bratby-Rudd said.
Visit their website to learn more about the Influx Collectiv