By Karen Ocamb
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced Friday that lesbian poet Eloise Klein Healy has been named as the city of Los Angeles’ first Poet Laureate.
“As the arts and culture capital of the world, Los Angeles’ 4 million residents and 26 million annual visitors deserve a Poet Laureate to elegantly express the beauty of our city in words,” Villaraigosa said in a press release before the formal announcement at the L.A. Library. “While each of the nominees demonstrated a command of the written word, Eloise Klein Healy’s work highlighted the truly innovative and imaginative nature of our City’s literary genius. I am proud to have her serve as the Ambassador to our city’s vibrant poetry and literary culture.”
Healy is well known in the LGBT and LA literary scene. An accomplished poet, professor and editor over three decades, she is the author of seven books of poetry, including The Islands Project: Poems for Sappho (2007) for which she was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in Poetry and Publishing Triangle’s Audre Lorde Lesbian Poetry Prize. Her newest book of poetry A Wild Surmise: New and Selected Poems & Recordings will come out March 2013 from Red Hen Press. (See her website eloisekleinhealy.com and the Red Hen Press Imprint arktoi.com.)
“It is an honor and a privilege to be asked to represent the city of Los Angeles as her Poet Laureate,” Healy said in the release. “L.A. has been a constant source of inspiration for me, and it is my goal to share my excitement about writing with all Angelenos. We are a community rich in languages, cultures and literary traditions. We have much to learn from each other, and I look forward to a new era of creativity starting now.”
I spoke with Healy—a longtime friend of the late author Paul Monette—about the honor and she sent me two poems to share. One is about the city of Los Angeles, dedicated to the extraordinary performance artist Luis Alfaro and the other is about gay, HIV-positive heroic Olympic diver Greg Louganis.
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