Lynne Thompson: L.A. Poet Laureate

LOS ANGELES​ ​— ​Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Lynne Thompson as the new Poet Laureate of the City of Los Angeles on February 24, 2021. A winner of the Marsh Hawk Prize, Perugia Book Award, and the Great Lakes Colleges Association’s New Writers Award, Thompson will serve as an official ambassador of L.A.’s arts community, promoting poetry across the city and celebrating its rich literary tradition and culture.

“Lynne is an acclaimed writer and outspoken force who uses words to tell stories, bring communities together, and open up new avenues of art and thinking,” said Mayor Garcetti. “Los Angeles is an international capital of creativity, a place for dynamic dreamers who shape global culture, ignite trends, and inspire — and I know Lynne will use her drive to show Angelenos and beyond the immense power of poetry.”

The Los Angeles Poet Laureate Program is a collaboration between the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) and the Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL). The aim of this effort is to enhance the presence and appreciation of poetry and the literary arts in Los Angeles, and to engage Angelenos who have limited exposure to poetry and other forms of expressive writing.
“I’m humbled and honored to have been selected as Los Angeles’ next Poet Laureate,” said Thompson. “The City has a true recognition of the value of poetry in our cultural landscape, and I am excited about the opportunities ahead.”

A native Angeleno, Thompson is the author of​ Fretwork, Start With a Small Guitar,​ and ​Beg No Pardon, ​and received an Artist Fellowship from the City of Los Angeles in 2015. Her other awards include the 2016 Stephen Dunn Poetry Prize and the 2017 Tucson Literary Award (Poetry). One of Thompson’s poems was included in the ​2020 Best American Poetry anthology. Her most recent work appears or is forthcoming in ​Black Warrior Review, New England Review, Nelle, Pleiades, and Colorado Review,​ among others. Widely anthologized, her poems also appear in ​Coiled Serpent, Poets Arising from the Cultural Quakes & Shifts of Los Angeles ​and Wide Awake: Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond.

“Los Angeles poets give us hope and inspiration,” said Danielle Brazell, General Manager of the Department of Cultural Affairs. “Lynne Thompson is a leading voice, widely recognized and awarded for her contemporary work. The city’s creative communities will be enriched by her belief that poetry can be used as a path of questioning and understanding to illuminate a broad range of issues. I know her words will have a profound impact on the residents of our city and the next generation of aspiring poets.”

Thompson serves on the Boards of the Los Angeles Review of Books and Cave Canem, a nonprofit literary organization, and she is Chair of the Scripps College Board of Trustees. She holds a J.D. from Southwestern University School of Law, and a B.A. in social psychology from Scripps College. She lives in Los Angeles.

“Thompson is an ideal choice to serve this city as the next Poet Laureate of Los Angeles,” said City Librarian John F. Szabo. “She is a powerful and compassionate storyteller, and her understanding of the cultural spirit of our city is unrivaled.”

To select the new Poet Laureate, DCA convened a peer review panel of three professionals: the executive editor of a literary review journal, a young Los Angeles poet and founder of a local poetry organization, and a university professor who has recently published an anthology of Los Angeles creative writing. Thompson is eligible to serve two, one-year terms as Poet Laureate. She is provided a contract-stipend of $10,000 per year to perform her public services.

Press release from the Office of Mayor Eric Garcetti, City of Los Angeles