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LOS ANGELES – Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa today announced Eloise Klein Healy as the City of Los Angeles’ first Poet Laureate during a press conference at the Los Angeles Central Library.
“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,” Mayor Villaraigosa said. “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 an accomplished poet, professor and editor. She has been a major presence in the LA poetry scene for the past three decades. Throughout her career, Healy has authored 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 is set for release in February 2013.
Born in El Paso, Texas and raised in Iowa, Healy eventually made her way to California where she become heavily involved with Woman’s Building, a west coast feminist cultural center. Since then, she has been a notable presence in the Los Angeles writing community receiving multiple awards and wide recognition. She is a Grand Prize winner of the Los Angeles Poetry Festival Competition, a Pushcart Prize Nominee and a former Artist-in-residence at both the MacDowell and Dorland Mountain Colony. With this award she builds on an on-going relationship with the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA), which named her a COLA Fellow in 2005.
“It is an honor and a privilege to be asked to represent the City of Los Angeles as her Poet Laureate,” Healy said. “LA 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.”
Healy is co-founder of the ecotourism and arts venture ECO-ARTS and helped to establish the Red Hen Press imprint Arktoi Books, specializing in works by lesbian authors. Healy is the founding chair of the Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Antioch College, Los Angeles, where she won the inaugural Horace Mann Award. Earlier, she taught at Immaculate Heart and California State University, Northridger. Healy currently resides in Sherman Oaks.
As Poet Laureate, Healy will author poetry, promote Angeleno writers, and speak publicly to the transformative qualities of poetry and the written word throughout all parts of the community. She will serve for a term of two years ending in 2014 and receive a $10,000 annual grant from the DCA.
“As a City that prides itself on creativity and dedication to a vital and thriving arts community, adding the new Poet Laureate program to the DCA portfolio was a natural fit,” Executive Director of the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs Olga Garay-English said. “I look forward to Eloise Klein Healy adding to her already impressive poems inspired by Los Angeles, which will hopefully ignite within Angelenos a desire to create their own poetry as homage to this Great City.”The selection process was overseen by a Poet Laureate Task Force, appointed by Mayor Villaraigosa in March of this year, consisting of a group of six diverse poets and literary experts representative of the City’s diverse cultural communities and traditions.
“The selection committee worked with great care and enthusiasm,” Poet Laureate Task Force Chair Dana Gioia said. “We read through piles of books and applications searching for the best candidates. Many of the best poets in Los Angeles applied for the position. I am certain that there will be no shortage of great laureates in future years.”
The Task Force reviewed nominations and made recommendations for DCA to forward to the Mayor’s Office for consideration. Mayor Villaraigosa chose Eloise Klein Healy as Los Angeles Poet Laureate earlier this month.
For more information on Eloise Klein Healy and her poetry, visit eloisekleinhealy.com.