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Anaheim appoints award-winning local poet as its first poet laureate

Updated: Dec 14, 2018


Anaheim is known, among other things, for its sports and entertainment, but now city officials want to add the spoken word to that list.

The city recently appointed its first poet laureate to coincide with National Poetry Month.

West Anaheim resident and award-winning poet and writer Grant Hier will be tasked with raising the consciousness of reading and writing poetry through at least two free public workshops, two public readings and two community events.

Hier regularly attends poetry readings in the city – most recently at an Anaheim library event this month that drew 60 guests of all ages who read and recited poems, he said.

“This is stuff that I’ve already been doing, and this is, to me, a platform to do it on a broader scale,” Hier said of the two-year, unpaid honorary position. “Reading and writing poetry gives you other perspectives and helps us understand and see our connectedness.”

A poet laureate is the official poet appointed by a government or institution and is typically expected to write poems for special events throughout their term. Other cities such as Los Angeles and Laguna Beach have their own.

Robert Frost was once appointed as the U.S. poet laureate.

Carol Latham, the community outreach coordinator for the Muzeo Museum and Cultural Center, pitched the idea of a poet laureate after organizing a poetry event at the museum.

“It’s a way of bringing the community together,” Latham said. “A city this size should have one.”

Hier said he envisions exposing residents to poetry who otherwise might “not have the opportunity that people in other places have.”

As an accomplished writer, Hier is the recipient of the 2014 Prize Americana award for “Untended Garden (Histories and Reinhabitation in Suburbia),” a book-length poem that explores the history and culture of Southern California. The book took him two decades to complete.

His poetry has been included in “Orange County: A Literary Field Guide” and the fiction piece “LA Fiction Anthology: Southland Stories.” More of his work has been widely published.

“Being a lover of literature, and lover of reading, and constantly writing, is something I always did,” Hier said. “It helped me see the world and understand the world.”

As a child, Hier’s father and grandfather routinely recited poetry, he said. His favorite poem is “Song of Myself” by Walt Whitman.

In 2017, Hier said he challenged himself to write an original poem each day for a year. Each Saturday, Louie Perez, a close friend and member of the rock band Los Lobos, and Hier text each other an original poem, Hier said.

Hier said he envisions exposing residents to poetry who otherwise might “not have the opportunity that people in other places have.”

Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait said he wasn’t sure if Anaheim is home to a significant number of poets, but feels the city’s diverse population makes it “ripe to have a scene.”

“It’s about giving access to this great artform that sometimes gets overlooked,” Tait said. “I think it’s an area a lot of people are rediscovering.”

Hier and other poets will appear at a free poetry event at 6 p.m. tonight, April 26, at the Anaheim Central Library, 500 W. Broadway.


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