October 25, 2021
Article by Kristen Schweizer
It would be easy to describe Sunny Rey as a shooting star. She is bright, quick, and luminous. However, I choose to describe this sparkling woman as a planet. She is the kind of human with a gravitational pull; the sort of force that can breathe new life.
The incredible effort of creating community appears to come naturally to her. Perhaps she draws people together through her understanding of storytelling. Perhaps her unique ability to create a tribe stems from being born into homelessless and chunks of her childhood spent within the foster care system and unhoused. As an adult, Sunny chose social work as a profession – among several interesting and collaborative jobs in and around San Diego through the years.
Since being a teenager, Sunny has expressed herself through poetry. Now a published author and mom, one can see the maternal, wise instincts in her mentorship of up-and-coming writers and her birthing of multiple books across genres. She is building a new kind of publishing business, teaching writing workshops, and leading Poets Underground. This last project – Poets Underground – is how I met Sunny.
Poets Underground is a literal title. Founded in 2019, the weekly open mic event formally gathered in the downstairs room of East Village’s Amplified Ale Works. The crowd of poets and fans was outgrowing the space (long before social distancing) thanks to the sincere joy and encouragement of organization founder, Sunny Rey. She is the sort of woman that can get the best out of people and she wields that power to build up others.
Poets Underground has spun off to include ‘Poets for the People’ (a 2019 initiative handing out hygiene kits to unhoused humans in the neighborhood after the evening gathering), Partnership Publishing (beginning with FUCK ISOLATION, a 2020 collaborative anthology reacting to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and branching off with individual poet collections), workshops, retreats, and one-on-one coaching. Sunny sees people within their poetry and greets them by name. It was an amazing thing in 2019 to watch first-timers blossom over weeks and months to become an evening headliner and it is even more incredible to watch Sunny’s work assisting writers in 2021.
Sunny is light. She uses it to light her own path and brighten the way of others. San Diego is lucky to have her.