City of West Hollywood Selects Charles Flowers as Next City Poet Laureate
The City of West Hollywood’s City Council, at its regular meeting on Monday, October 15, 2018, unanimously approved Charles Flowers as the next City Poet Laureate. Flowers was selected through an application process with a selection committee comprised of current and former City Poet Laureates and staff members from the West Hollywood Library, the Friends of the West Hollywood Library, and West Hollywood City Hall.
The City Poet Laureate serves as an ambassador of West Hollywood’s vibrant literary culture and leads the promotion of poetry in the City, including its annual celebration of National Poetry Month. During a two-year appointment, the City Poet Laureate will also create a new poem each year, which commemorates the uniqueness and dynamism of West Hollywood.
A resident of West Hollywood since 2010, Charles Flowers graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Vanderbilt University, where he took his first poetry workshop with Mark Jarman and won the Academy of American Poets College Prize. He later worked with Garrett Hongo to receive his MFA in Poetry from the University of Oregon. His poems have appeared in Puerto Del Sol, Barrow Street, Indiana Review, and Assaracus. He was the founder and editor of BLOOM, a journal for LGBT poetry, prose, and art, which Edmund White called “the most exciting new queer literary publication to emerge in years.” Over the course of ten issues, BLOOM published poets such as Adrienne Rich, Reginald Shepherd, Eileen Myles, Rafael Campo, Minnie Bruce Pratt, and Mark Doty, and more than 150 other poets. Charles has served as Associate Director of the Academy of American Poets, Executive Director of the Lambda Literary Foundation, Deputy Development Director at the ACLU of Southern California, and most recently as Deputy Director of Arts for LA, the regional arts advocacy organization. Charles lives in West Hollywood with his husband Konstantine and two dogs, Mr. Darcy and Ariel.
Flowers will begin his appointment as the City of West Hollywood’s City Poet Laureate on October 17, 2018, taking over from West Hollywood’s second City Poet Laureate, Kim Dower (2016-2018). Among her accomplishments during her term, Dower solicited lines from hundreds of community members in West Hollywood and weaved those words together into two citywide collaborative poems: “West Hollywood is for Dreamers” and “I Sing The Body West Hollywood.” The latter poem was turned into a five-minute animated video, which incorporates the poem as narrated by Kim Dower; artwork by local artist Miguel Andrisani; and music from Derek Monteiro, Audiomoe, and Aaron Colbert. The video can be viewed on the City’s WeHoTV YouTube Channel at https://youtu.be/TP0aC2lvhPA.
Steven Reigns, West Hollywood’s inaugural City Poet Laureate (2014-2016) used his deep understanding of poetry to convey its importance in West Hollywood. Among his accomplishments during his term, Reigns implemented the annual Poetry Month street banner project, which honors living poets and brings snippets of poetry into the streets of West Hollywood.
The City of West Hollywood has an unwavering commitment to fostering the literary arts. The West Hollywood Library, which showcases the City’s rich intellectual, literary, and cultural diversity and provides a landmark facility for the community’s passionate commitment to lifelong learning. The City’s Arts Division/Economic Development Department oversees the WeHo Reads literary series and the One City One Pride LGBTQ Arts Festival held each year in June, providing literary arts programming in the City. The City of West Hollywood also supports a Free Little Library grant program and bi-monthly Drag Queen Story Hour readings.
For additional information about the City of West Hollywood’s City Poet Laureate program, please visit www.weho.org/arts.
For more information, please contact Michael Che, the City of West Hollywood’s Arts Coordinator, at (323) 848-6377 or at email@example.com. For people who are Deaf or hard of hearing please call TTY (323) 848-6496. For up-to-date news and events, follow the City of West Hollywood on social media @WeHoCity and sign up for news updates at www.weho.org/email.
High-resolution photos may be downloaded (West Hollywood City Poet Laureate Charles Flowers, Photos by Tony Coelho, Courtesy of the City of West Hollywood): https://app.box.com/s/mrk2mzznuv9jbjnfwds1ytzryl7at0rc
by Charles Flowers
It’s late May & jacaranda petals cover Kings Road,
small purple blossoms across the asphalt & sidewalks,
each car’s shine blotted & stained. Yet their beauty
cannot be denied. On my first encounter with their
purple light, I felt I had fallen into the land of Dr. Seuss,
where bright trees & a talking cat can teach a boy a lesson.
Imagine myself in a forest of purple [I wish . . .]
where melancholy Sondheim sings to me [I wish . . .
more than anything] & I am back in Tennessee,
finding my mother alone on our screened porch,
listening to the summer night and the heart’s litany:
to be single, to be married, to have a child.
My heart was just beginning to dream its own tale,
a prince to rescue me from a Baptist dragon [I wish . . .].
Today, a purple tree & a plangent showtune
remind me how the heart endures, its chorus of desire
never abandons me, season after season.