Words With Friends: L.A.’s First Poet Laureate On Being a 21st Century Bard

Rhymes have a reason for Eloise Klein Healy

Illustration by Andy Friedman

She’s a bard for the 21st century: Her most recent collection, A Wild Surmise, was published with QR codes on each page linking readers to online audio recordings. “I’m like a traveling salesman. In line at the grocery store, I’ll say to the person next to me, ‘I’m your poet. Have you ever written a poem? Let’s talk about it.’ ” She even has Mayor Villaraigosa, who appointed her last year, working on his metaphors. “The mayor is my first task. He’s moving into another phase of his life, and [writing] a poem can reveal to a person what his own thoughts are. My suspicion is, he might write about his family.” Perhaps he’ll even read it aloud somewhere in L.A. “Any night of the week there’s more than one reading: Beyond Baroque, Skylight Books, Book Soup, Diesel, and Vroman’s have programs.”