West Hollywood has chosen its first poet laureate: Steven Reigns, an artist and nine-year resident of the Southern California city.
A special selection committee this week picked Reigns from a pool of candidates to "act as a champion for poetry, language, and the arts" and tasked him to "create a unique artistic legacy through public readings and civic interactions." The official induction will take place October 6, and Reigns will serve in this post for a term of two years.
"Big congratulations to Steven Reigns, an amazing poet and a terrific talent," said West Hollywood mayor John D'Amico at a recent council meeting. "Thank you for delivering to us yet another great level of culture and meaning to this city."
Well-regarded among his literary peers, Reigns' work is described by poet Sapphire as "brilliant and courageous act of truth telling and art." In a review of Reigns's latest book, Inheritance, luminary Mark Doty noted that "to read his book is to meet a man alert to his times and the textures of the lives around him, a community observed with tenderness, wit and pleasure."
Reigns has written six chapbooks and frequently conducts workshops with LGBT youth, seniors, and HIV-positive people. A weekly workshop, My Life Is Poetry, will launch October 9 at the Los Angeles LGBT Center.
He is also participating in "The Adonis Project," a queer art show that opens Saturday at the Human Resources gallery in L.A.'s Chinatown. His past projects include "The Gay Rub," a gallery of rubbings of LGBT monuments and memorials that was profiled by OutTraveler.com earlier this year. His work will also be featured in an upcoming film by director Hunter Lee Hughes, Guys Reading Poems.
"I’m honored to be the first poet to be elected to this position," Reigns said. "Being elected city poet will assist me in helping more people experience the depth, pleasures, and rewards of poetry. My focus will be on community involvement and creating a more poetry-aware public."
In celebration of Reigns's achievement, read three poems by the new poet laureate of West Hollywood on the following pages. And find out more about the artist at StevenReigns.com.