West Hollywood's City Poet Laureate highlights the City of West Hollywood through the literary arts and, over a period of time, creates a new body of literary work that commemorates the diversity and vibrancy of the City. She serves as an official ambassador of West Hollywood’s vibrant literary culture, promoting poetry in West Hollywood, stimulating the transformative impact of poetry in the local community, and creating excitement about the written word. Kim Dower, our second City Poet Laureate, served from October 2016-2018.
For National Poetry Month 2017, Kim created a collaborative poem called I Sing The Body West Hollywood by soliciting lines from over 100 people in West Hollywood. The finished poster is available here. We also turned it into an animated video.
For National Poetry Month 2018, Kim repeated the process and weaved together the poem "West Hollywood is for Dreamers."
In October 2018, Kim Dower represented West Hollywood at the first ever statewide convening of Poet Laureates.
If you have questions about the West Hollywood City Poet Laureate program or would like a poster of 'West Hollywood is for Dreamers', you may contact the program manager, Mike Che, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
National Poetry Month Events:
April 2, 2018, 6:30pm, City Council Chambers
Proclamation of National Poetry Month at City Council Meeting
Kim Dower will receive an official proclamation for National Poetry Month, and read the new poem, "West Hollywood is for Dreamers"
April 25, 2018, 7-8pm, West Hollywood Library
Route 66 Through the Eyes of Poets
West Hollywood City Poet Laureate curates a free poetry reading as the sun goes down over Santa Monica Boulevard. RSVP at https://route66poetry.eventbrite.com
All Month look for the National Poetry Month Street Pole Banners and Bookmarks.
Other poetry activities sponsored by the City of West Hollywood's WeHo Arts program in April include:
Every weekend in April, Greenway Arts Alliance in association with Da Poetry Lounge presents THE 2ND ANNUAL LA GET DOWN FESTIVAL http://greenwaycourttheatre.org/2ndannualgetdown/
On April 24, 7pm, West Hollywood Library Community Meeting Room April’s Lambda Lit Book Club selection, for National Poetry Month, will be David Trinidad’s Notes on a Past Life. https://www.lambdaliterary.org/book-clubs/lambda-lit-book-club/
West Hollywood is for Dreamers
West Hollywood is a rainbow octopus that knows how to sneak
out of its tank, a hummingbird beating its wings in our hearts,
a chartreuse polka dot gorilla, posh pink poodle in a diamond collar,
a lilac cloud filled with electric energy, an eagle, Arabian horse, coyote.
She dreamed she saw a ladybug walking a parrot, he dreamed he saw
a parade of love on the street in West Hollywood.
West Hollywood vibrates orange, gold, black, white, silver, grey,
turquoise jelly thigh raccoon’s belly, red-crowned rooster, ballerina,
rainbow squirrel, Chihuahua, collie in ruby heels, kaleidoscope,
chameleon changing through the years, she dreamed she saw a princess
rescued from a pirate ship, he once saw a chain-smoking angel
on the street in West Hollywood.
Once he dreamed the world was yellow, he was a million miles tall.
She dreamed she was in a flock of birds embracing the sky, a ship on the ocean,
living in a world without guns, a black jaguar with bright green eyes decked out
in leather and spikes - beautiful by day – fantastic by night, a peacock whose tail
unfurled in the light. We once saw a vampire driving a Cadillac
on the street in West Hollywood.
West Hollywood is a French bulldog on a Broadway stage, a peasant, porn star, panther,
sunset strip haze, an alien in a red hoodie, three-legged jabberwocky, she dreamed
she was someone else on the street in West Hollywood. He dreamed of a man
in a pink tutu riding his bike, saw an orange fox escape out of sight, sperm whale,
hysterical giraffe, vermillion cockapoo, fabulous mixed-breed rainbow colored rescue.
We see everything on the street in West Hollywood.
He dreamed of spear fishing on a reef in Tonga, dreamed he awoke in a car
that no one was driving, she dreamed of a rainbow hugging the sky, watched it touch
down, melt in her eye, we dreamed we saw a genie granting wishes for those in need,
in our city where more life matters, where they say we are dreamers
but we’re not the only ones – look there! - it’s your soul mate
on the street in West Hollywood.
Ode to West Hollywood
La Brea pumped and loaded stretches its arms
across Route 66 its finger tips reaching into Beverly Hills
Because the Italian Cypress trees poke holes into the sky
and the flags are waving Eight Miles High
in the Hollywood Hills a man steps onto his balcony
looks out at the galaxy of lights jewels scattered below
like smiles on fire Ode to West Hollywood because
the boys on Santa Monica kiss with their mouths open
walk arm in arm wave at passing cars make us all feel alive
because the crosswalks may kill us yet because even when it sleeps
the Blue Whale is watching because we eat at Barney’s
because it’s there it’s where Jim Morrison’s throw up graces the bar
because the Whiskey is always the Whiskey the Roxy still rocks
Sunset Strip doesn’t care if we live or die Book Soup
gives us a place to hide the tattooed goddesses slow grind
inside The Palms where bougainvillea blooms into a fuchsia blaze
without asking questions and gas lamps line the streets whispering
our names so all us misfits can finally feel sane because grandmothers
at Plummer Park remind us of our own remind us of what we miss
back home because the city is young but has lived many lives
because “every single day someone tells us we have the best burgers in town,”
because my mother thought the firemen were hot because at dawn
everything can be forgot High in the Hollywood Hills a man embraces
our city his arms stretched pumped loaded the lights below
a feast of life dissolving the night and when he awakens
he hasn’t a clue why there are rose petals in his pocket.
City Poet Laureate, West Hollywood
Kim Dower, photographed by Mary Ann Halpin.
Kim (Freilich) Dower, a West Hollywood resident for over 30 years, was born and raised in New York City and received a BFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College, where she also taught. Her first collection of poetry, Air Kissing on Mars, (Red Hen Press, 2010) was on the Poetry Foundation’s Contemporary Best Sellers list, and was described by the Los Angeles Times as, “sensual and evocative . . . seamlessly combining humor and heartache.” Slice of Moon, her second collection, (Red Hen Press, 2013), nominated for a Pushcart, was called, “unexpected and sublime,” by “O” magazine, and her third collection, Last Train to the Missing Planet (Red Hen Press, 2016) has been praised by our Inaugural Poet, Richard Blanco, as well as by Garrison Keillor, who has featured her work several times on “The Writer’s Almanac.” Kim’s work has also appeared in Ted Kooser's, "American Life in Poetry, Barrow Street, Eclipse, Los Angeles Review, Ploughshares, and Rattle. Her poems are included in several anthologies including, Wide Awake: Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond, published by The Pacific Coast Poetry Series, an imprint of Beyond Baroque Books and Coiled Serpent: Poets Arising from the Cultural Quakes & Shifts in Los Angeles, published by Tia Chucha Press. She teaches workshops called Poetry and Dreaming and Poetry and Memory in the B.A. Program of Antioch University, Los Angeles. Kim is also a literary publicist whose company, Kim-from-L.A. Literary and Media Services, creates media campaigns for authors and publishers. www.kimdowerpoetry.com.