Better Ancestors @ Medicine for Nightmares

Medicine for Nightmares

3036 24th Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

From $0.00

Sat, March 23rd, 2024 @ 7:00PM PDT

Quiet Lightning presents the 13th Better Ancestors, featuring readings and performance by María Guerrero, Leticia Guzman, Carlos Quinteros III, James Cagney and London Pinkney, with special host Norman Antonio Zelaya!

This will be a set of intimate performances followed by a brief community Q&A.

'Doors' open at 7pm, though the store opens at noon! We'll be set up at 7 if you'd like to come peruse our books and Medicine's, and maybe grab a refreshment or two. All ticket proceeds to be split by Quiet Lightning and Medicine for Nightmares.

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


María Guerrero is a queer, Mexican, and Chicanx woman born in San Francisco and raised in Bayview Hunters Point. She currently works as an educator for middle school students and is a graduate student at the University of San Francisco in a MAT program called Urban Education and Social Justice. María uses storytelling to center community, intergenerational and collective traumas, resistance, collective healing, and reimagining possibilities for collective liberation in her work within and outside the margins of the paper.

Leticia Guzman is a chicana poet, educator and organizer from Hayward, California. Her work is featured in Between my body and the air poetry anthology by Youth Speaks, PODERISTAS media, a community built to celebrate Latina culture and is also featured in The Offing Literary Magazine. Leticia is a teaching artist at Youth Speaks, one of the world’s leading presenters of spoken word performance, education, and youth development programs. Leticia uses spoken word to empower her inner child and hopes to help uplift others.

Carlos Quinteros III is a poet with an occasional stutter, stumbling through language, living in San Francisco/the ancestral homeland of the Ramaytush Ohlone People. He is the managing editor and one of the poetry editors for The Ana, a literary magazine based in the Bay area.

Oakland born poet James Cagney is the author of two books of poetry, including Martian: The Saint of Loneliness, winner of 2021 James Laughlin Award from Academy of American Poets. Please Visit

London Pinkney bio coming soon


Norman Antonio Zelaya is from San Francisco, CA. His writing is inspired by his Nicoya heritage and his lived experience as a SF native and Mission District homeboy. He’s the author of two collections of short fiction, Orlando & Other Stories (Pochino Press, 2017), and most recently, Gente, Folks (Black Freighter Press, 2022). His work has appeared in ZYZZYVA, Apogee Journal, NY Tyrant, 14 Hills, and Cipactli, among other journals. Mr. Zelaya has read and lectured throughout California, and across the country. Also, he’s appeared on stage, in film, and in the squared circle as the masked luchador, Super Pulga. He lives and works in San Francisco, where he’s completing a debut novel.


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


Now in its 15th 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 152 events featuring 1,833 readings by 980 local authors in 96 venues, ranging from dive bars and art galleries to state parks and national landmarks, and has published 122 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.


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: Norman Antonio Zelaya; top, from L-R: María Guerrero, Leticia Guzman, Carlos Quintero III & James Cagney – each photo courtesy the artist. Background photo by Tarisse Iriarte.


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.

Medicine for Nightmares
3036 24th Street
San Francisco, CA 94110