Anaheim’s Inaugural Poet Laureate Grant Hier
Grant Hier, a west Anaheim resident with long family ties to the city of Anaheim, was just named Anaheim’s inaugural poet laureate and literary ambassador.
In the role, Hier will work to better connect the Anaheim community through poetry and great writing.
“The best poetry shows us who we are,” said Hier, an award-winning author and Liberal Arts professor at Laguna College of Art + Design. “It broadens our perspective. It shows us how other people think and live and how much we have in common. And that builds compassion and community.”
The poet laureate program is part of Anaheim’s celebration and promotion of the arts and culture.
“Art makes life better,” Anaheim Mayor, Tom Tait said. “We have worked with our schools to promote music and with our arts groups to make Anaheim a place where creativity thrives. Now, with Grant as our first poet laureate, we are looking to share the transformative power of the written word with all of Anaheim.”
For the next two years, Hier will share his love of poetry with Anaheim through public readings, library events, community gatherings, and social media. He’ll kick things off in April for National Poetry Month, with events throughout the month at Central Library, Haskett Library and out in the community with the Bookmobile.
Hier is author of Untended Garden: Histories and Reinhabitation in Suburbia, a Prize Americana-winning book that explores the history and culture of Southern California in one long poem. His poetry also appears in the anthologies “Orange County: a Literary Field Guide,” “Only Light Can Do That” and “Monster Verse — Human and Inhuman Poems.” Hier’s other works include fiction pieces, essays and music, visual art, and graphic design.
His favorite poem? “Song of Myself” by American great Walt Whitman. “I love it for its all-inclusiveness and tremendous heart,” Hier said. “He revolutionized poetry with his form.”
As poet laureate, Hier’s goal is to share poetry with Anaheim residents and have them walk away wanting to read more. And poetry is alive and well, even in the era of social media, according to Hier. “Poetry has never been so popular! How great is it to be able to say that?” he said. “There are massively popular Instagram poets — young poets who have built a huge following simply by posting lines on Instagram.” They include Canada’s Rupi Kaur, New Zealand’s Lang Leav and Brooklyn’s Jenny Zhang. “They are far and away the most popular poets who have ever existed, by any standard,” Hier said. “The popular writers now are far more reflective of the larger world and its diversity. It’s about time others finally get a chance to be heard.”
Poetry is important to Anaheim for the same reason it is everywhere, Hier said. “It shows us how other people think and live, and how much we have in common,” he said. “It connects us.”
Hier has deep Anaheim roots. He lives in a Cinderella house, a type of ranch-style design with decorative gingerbread trim common in west Anaheim. The house has been his family home for generations. “It is a rare experience in a time of such turnover to have a property handed down,” he said. A doorframe still bears a growth chart from when Hier was little, while handprints from him and his sister Suzan live on in the cement outside. Hier lives in the family home with his wife Laura, a chemistry teacher at Rowland High School in Rowland Heights. The couple has two rescue dogs, a German Shepard and a beagle mix, and Abagail the cat.
“I’m honored to be able to share my love of poetry with the city I live in and love,” Hier said. “Anaheim is not any one thing. I love its diversity and many colors, which make for great poetry.”