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Literary Happy Hour

  • Kehler Liddell Gallery 873 Whalley Ave New Haven United States (map)
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Literary Happy Hour is a reading and performance series curated by Cultural Activist Hanifa Nayo Washington that creates a radically inclusive performance space and creative community that gives rise to healing, liberation, deepening of self and genuine community building.

This month, come out to be moved by the writings and readings of three featured artists: Kelley Knight, Kristianna Smith and Steve Driffin, as we circle to reflect on the dream Martin Luther King, Jr. left for us to live into, protect and propel forward into future generations. Open mic to follow their performances.

About the Artists:

Kelley Knight is a classically trained actor, writer, and director born and raised in the Greater New Haven area. Kelley has acted professionally on various stages across the tristate area and beyond for 11 years. Her credits include The Vagina Monologues and Canary Cockroach Phoenix. Kelley began writing at a very young age and has been featured as a writer/performer at Storytellers New Haven and Urban Perspectives at Citywide Open Studios.

Steve Driffin, Writer/Director, was born in New Haven, CT, but raised in Brooklyn, NY and in South Carolina after his mother relocated. He completed undergraduate school at the University of South Carolina and eventually went back to his birthplace after graduation. Steve has been writing stories for most of his life. Later, he was inspired by Black Filmmakers like Spike Lee and Julie Dash and a host of other visionaries and wanted to create and produce film. Steve aslo became actively engaged in the community after he saw the impact drugs and crime had on his neighborhood. Because filmmaking was expensive and a hard industry to break into, he began speaking to these ills by using his God-given gift of writing and using the medium of theatre. Steve became a well-known, local playwright and produced many independent plays over the years and can presently add the title "Filmmaker" to his moniker as he most recently completed his first independent film that he wrote, directed and produced. Steve is a very proud father of two daughters, Kendall and Kayla.

Kristianna Smith is the owner of Via Arts LLC. A facilitator, theater artist, amateur blogger and educator. She has spent over a decade working to reinvigorate the human experience through theater arts. Through arts-based programming, Kristianna collaborates with her partners to increase their accessibility to address the difficult topics of privilege, equity, oppression, and creativity within their communities. Kristianna has been exploring her journey through pregnancy and parenthood through her blog, The Curless Journey. In 2018, she received The Future is Now Award from CWEALF for both her personal and professional work.

About the Curator: Hanifa Nayo Washington is a cultural activist who views her creativity as radical medicine for the heart and uses it as a tool for liberation, healing, and community building. Hanifa has been the curator for Literary Happy since 2016. Learn more at

About the Event: Literary Happy Hour provides a platform for New Haven writers to present their work, build a local following, and form a supportive, collaborative writing community. Uniting the strongest writers from disconnected corners of the New Haven community – including creative writing students, open mic performers, and independent writers – Literary Happy Hour emphasizes writers of color and other writers belonging to marginalized groups.

If you are interested in being considered as a featured artist for one of the events, or signing up for the open mic, please email Hanifa:

This event is sponsored by ARTECON INITIATIVE and made possible with support from Kehler Liddell Gallery, and the Department of Economic and Community Development, CT Office of the Arts, which also receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

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Earlier Event: December 19
Open Crit for Visual Artists
Later Event: January 26
Weekend Pastel Workshop