"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.
When people move to L.A. from other places, Healy tells them: "Don't think of L.A. as a city. Think of it as a country." She warns them it can "take some time to find your people."
In the early 1970s, Healy found her people at Beyond Baroque, the legendary experimental writing center in Venice. Later, she taught poetry at the equally influential Woman's Building in downtown Los Angeles, where artists such as Judy Chicago and other poets such as Wanda Coleman offered feminist teaching outside the confines of male-dominated universities and art schools.
Healy was married to a man when one day she met and fell in love with a woman who turned her life upside down. "It just ripped the whole cover off my history," she said. She divorced and began life as a lesbian.
Many of her poems deal with sexuality. In 2006, she started an imprint for Pasadena's Red Hen Press that publishes the work of lesbian authors.
Villaraigosa said last summer that he wanted to create such a post and pay the person $10,000 a year. The task force that was charged with recommending a name to the mayor was led by led by USC professor Dana Gioia and included author Carolyn See.