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Better Ancestors @ Museum of the African Diaspora: Mimi Tempestt, James-Amutabi Connie Haines, Dr. Jeanne Powell & Terry Taplin

Museum of the African Diaspora

685 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94105

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Quiet Lightning presents the 11th Better Ancestors, featuring readings and performance by Mimi Tempestt, James-Amutabi Connie Haines, Dr. Jeanne Powell, Terry Taplin and host Charles Orgbon III for a special show at the Museum of the African Diaspora, including typewriter poetry on demand by Briana Swain!

This will be a set of intimate performances, followed by a brief community Q&A. We hope you'll join us!

Doors open at 6pm. All tickets include museum admission – come early to check out the current exhibitions, Black Venus and Nimah Gobir: Holding Space, and to have local muse Briana Swain create a custom poem just for you.

Masks will be optional. Questions? Concerns? Availability requests? Write [email protected].

PLEASE NOTE: Advance sales have ended, but we will have tickets available at the door.


Mimi Tempestt (she/they) is a multidisciplinary artist, poet, and daughter of California. She has an MA in Literature from Mills College, and is currently a doctoral student in the Creative/Critical PhD in Literature at UC Santa Cruz. Her debut collection of poems, the monumental misrememberings, was published by Co-Conspirator Press in 2020. In 2021, she was selected for participation in the Lambda Literary Writers Retreat for Emerging LGBTQ Voices & writers, and was a Creative Fellow at The Ruby in San Francisco. She is the 2023 recipient of the SFF/Nomadic Press Literary Prize in Poetry. Her second book, the delicacy of embracing spirals, is forthcoming with City Lights in the Fall. Her works can be found in Foglifter, Interim Poetics, and The Studio Museum in Harlem.

My name is James-Amutabi Connie Haines (They/He) and I am BaltimorePiscataway born and OaklandOhlone raised. I am a multimodal artist who uses performance, facilitation, dance, music and writing as parts of my process. I am committed to creating art and opportunities that inspire people into using creative expression, their bodies, their experiences of pleasure and possibility to emphasize abolitionist sensibilities for visioning beyond the edge of their discovered imagination. I enjoy the way somatic practices, movement, and mindfulness call me into appreciating the dynamic ways we have chosen to choreograph our humanity. I am committed to restor(y)ing my life through vulnerability, courage and a mindset that honors the ancient, the present and our potential futures. I am grateful for my ancestors who have walked in dignity through the complexities of this world, demonstrating what is possible, both in light and shadow, many blessings.

Dr. Jeanne Powell is an award-winning poet and essayist with five books in print. Her poetry collections include My Own SilenceWord DancingTwo Seasons, and Deeply Notched Leaves from Taurean Horn Press. Her essays appear in Carousel, a book published by Regent Press. Dr. Jeanne’s connection with spoken word began with attendance at open mics. For 10 years she hosted “Celebration of the Word,” a popular weekly open mic in SF, and published three chapbooks of her poetry during that period: February VoicesCadences, and Tangerine Dance. She established a micropress and published the work of 16 other poets. When she realized how many local poets were not being published, she created the Living Treasures series and raised funds to publish four poetic elders before they died, including Leonard Irving and Anne Bacon Soule. Read more about Dr. Jeanne here.

Terry Taplin is a poet and Berkeley City Councilmember representing District 2, West and Southwest Berkeley. A mobility and environmental justice activist, Terry has led on housing, green transportation, and fights for a climate resilient future. As a West Berkeley native, Terry envisions a future where West Berkeley is at the center of an economically vibrant, innovative, and sustainable East Bay.

Briana Swain believes in herself and the power of her words. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Saint Mary’s College. Leaning into the tradition of expansion, Swain writes to envision new manifestations of Black consciousness, subvert the colonial gaze, ascend possibilities, and exist in humanity as a site of liberation for the African Diaspora. Swain has received scholarship to The Juniper Summer Writing Institute and is published in Pleiades. Her art has been selected for exhibitions presented by Sebastopol Center for the Arts, the Center on Race, Immigration & Social Justice at Sac State and Saint Mary’s College Museum of Art. She currently works as Program Coordinator for No More Tears, a violence and crime prevention workshop held in San Quentin State Prison, is the curator for Studio One, a poetry reading series in Oakland, extending her creative practice beyond a degree and into the hands of the people.


Charles Orgbon III (he/him) is an environmental sustainability consultant by day, and freelance writer by night. When it comes to writing, Charles has done a variety of creative projects, from personal essays to news journalism to even comics and songwriting. He has two music projects out now, “A Survivor’s Reward” and “Blackberry,” both available anywhere you listen to music. He loves writing about identity, culture, and sexuality.


It’s amazing! A typewriter poet arrives finely dressed with their own manual typewriter and a supply of fine-quality cardstock. Guests are engaged by the poet one on one to tell their stories, share their experiences, what delights or frustrates them, what is meaningful to them, or anything at all. After listening to their needs, the poet creates a short poem based on what is shared and each guest will leave with their newly crafted and customized poem. Donations are welcomed, but not required.


One of Quiet Lightning’s efforts to diversify and move toward racial equityBetter Ancestors is a quarterly showcase of writers of color. Developed in partnership with Michael Warr, the series features 5 authors reading or performing whatever they choose. Each author selects one performer for the following show, so the series – and community – is self-generating. All authors are paid and published in an end of the year anthology.

Why Better Ancestors? As one of our initiatives to diversify from a board that has historically been mostly white, this showcase aims to provide a long-term, forward-thinking goal. As a society, we are suffering the consequences of pervasive systemic injustice against people of color, queer and trans people, the poor, disabled, and otherwise disadvantaged. But we are all ancestors of the future. If the planet is to remain inhabitable; if the function of humanity is not to sort and oppress our descendants based on their skin color, accent, or material property, we must be better ancestors. This begins by listening to one another, and by giving each other space to be heard.

Better Ancestors was made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit www.calhum.org.


Now in its 14th year, Quiet Lightning is a literary movement to create and foster community around the written and spoken word. QL aims to democratize public space by offering performances, curation opportunities, and programming with no barriers to entry, providing a launchpad for new and emerging artists, a reliable platform for professional writers, and an inclusive, accessible gathering place for the public. QL is committed to care-taking and progressing the rich threads of literary culture that exist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Recognized by the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts as one of the 100 “people, organizations, and movements who are shaping the future of culture”, Quiet Lightning’s flagship is the literary mixtape, a submission-based series with a blind selection process and different curators for each show. The shows, which are free to attend, are published as books, handed out free to the first 100 people, and all participating artists are paid. QL has now produced 150 events featuring 1,811 readings by 975 local authors in 94 venues, ranging from dive bars and art galleries to state parks and national landmarks, and has published 120 books and produced two films, all selected by 77 different curators. In 2019, Quiet Lightning pioneered an application process for limited-term board-membership, called Disruptors, to regularly bring new ideas and energy into the organization. QL maintains Litseen.com, a daily calendar of literary events.


Every tax deductible donation helps Quiet Lightning invest in a sustainable, ethical arts ecosystem, with the goal of building that culture into the fabric of our lives. You can donate by Venmo or PayPal or pledge a recurring donation by becoming one of our supporters on Patreon, which comes with a few additional perks and helps us expand on the work that we do.

featured images: Above, right: Charles Orgbon III (L); Briana Swain (R); top, from L-R: Mimi Tempestt; James-Amutabi Connie Haines; Dr. Jeanne Powell; Terry Taplin – all courtesy the artists. Background photo: Amoako Boafo, Soul of Black Folks - Fall 2021.


Refund Policy:

No refunds or returns.

Cancellation Policy:

An event can only be canceled by the venue and/or event organizer. If the venue or event organizer cancels an event, you will be refunded within 4 business days of the event date for your purchase.

Better Ancestors @ Museum of the African Diaspora: Mimi Tempestt, James-Amutabi Connie Haines, Dr. Jeanne Powell & Terry Taplin poster
Museum of the African Diaspora
685 Mission St.
San Francisco, CA 94105
415-967-8376 (event organizer)