The Next Poet Laureate of Los Angeles

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Next Poet Laureate of Los Angeles

The past year has been a difficult one for the poetry communities of Los Angeles. In Wanda Coleman’s case, many of us knew that she was ill, though we did not anticipate a sudden change for the worse. On a nearby parallel track, the situation of our first poet laureate, Eloise Klein Healy, has also been on our minds for the past nine months, though we had no forewarning whatsoever of the precipitous erosion of her artistic and personal capacities. In the week before the spring break (2013) at CSU Long Beach, Eloise gave a lively and vigorous poetry reading, and it turned out to be one of her last public presentations as a poet laureate. Soon after that, she fell seriously ill and has subsequently had to resign from that post. The news is now official and reporter Pat Morrison’s account of this very unfortunate twist in Eloise’s life can be found in Wednesday’s edition of the Los Angeles Times. I thank George Drury Smith and Jim Krusoe for calling my attention to this article, which we hope someday will have a follow-up story in which we learn that her determined efforts to reclaim her considerable imaginative powers have beaten considerable odds.

http://fw.to/StKb7Gj

With Wanda Coleman’s passing, I cannot think of anyone who would be more deserving and capable of following Eloise as an inspiring and exemplary Los Angeles poet than Suzanne Lummis. I have noted how Brendan Constantine has been working the circuit the past several months and has seemed to serve as a kind of substitute laureate in maintaining the kind of pace that might be expected of someone who is the actual laureate. He would certainly be someone in the future who should be considered for the post, but there is no one else as qualified and ready to take on the job as Suzanne is and I hope the mayor of Los Angeles comes to the same conclusion and helps restore the poet laureate position to full deployment. Full employment for the post remains a distantly enchanting goal.