Eloise Klein Healy

Eloise Klein Healy, the author of nine books of poetry and three chapbooks, was named the first Poet Laureate of Los Angeles in 2012. She was the founding chair of the MFA in Creative Writing Program at Antioch University Los Angeles, where she is Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing Emerita. Healy directed the Women’s Studies Program at California State University Northridge and taught in the Feminist Studio Workshop at The Woman’s Building in Los Angeles. She is the founding editor of Arktoi Books, an imprint of Red Hen Press specializing in the work of lesbian authors. A Wild Surmise: New & Selected Poems & Recordings was published in 2013 and Another Phase in 2018.

All Books

A Brilliant Loss

Eloise Klein Healy

Publication Date: October 18, 2022

$15.95 Tradepaper

ISBN: 9781636280615


Eloise Klein Healy’s A Brilliant Loss is a poetic journey into the loss of language and the reclaiming of it. Healy had Wernicke’s aphasia in 2013 when she was the first poet laureate of the City of Los Angeles, and the virus hit her the night of her reading with Caroline Kennedy at the Central Library. Also called fluent aphasia, Wernicke’s aphasia affects language and the use of words. Healy’s collection shows that her brain has access to its deepest unconscious, and that place is poetry. Her deepest language is poetry. It’s as if a dancer was denied the ability to walk or run, and could only dance. Healy writes of losing her words and finding big love.


Eloise’s illness, encephalitis, took her on a journey to a strange place, which she is revealing to us in A Brilliant Loss, her new set of poems. She teaches that without language there is no self, no sense of past or future. And no way to express love.

I’ve had aphasia (much lighter versions than she has had) twice so far, and may again, so I know it as a lonely, frightening, lost-in-the-forest-of-meaning place. To lose recognition of person and geography, to experience a shattering of the brilliant patterns of literacy and verbal expression. To see objects and be unable to name them. Yet recovery can also be full of quirkiness, exuberant joy, and humor—states of feeling Eloise has exhibited for all the forty-two years we’ve known each other.

Eloise, with amazing support from her partner and others, uses breadcrumb words—poignant—scary—sweet—informing—to show us how she wended her way step by step out of her lost forest back to love, to words, to social life, and to poetry.

I recommend this book to anyone who has bumped their head.
Judy Grahn, author of Touching Creature, Touching Spirit

“As a young poet, Eloise Klein Healy “fell on her knees and promised/that poetry would be everything . . .” Imagine then her terror, her shock when one morning she awoke without language. This book is testament to her long, painful, continuing rediscovery of words, of life, of love. Her brain profoundly changed, her heart profoundly changed, she’s sustained again by poetry. She’s sustained by her devoted Colleen, “the wild river whose bank you are.” Her brilliant loss gives us all the gift of these brilliant poems.”
Peggy Shumaker, former Writer Laureate of Alaska

Another Phase

Eloise Klein Healy

Publication Date: November 29, 2018

$17.95 Tradepaper

ISBN: 978-1-59709-042-1


In April 2013, just five months after being named the first Poet Laureate of Los Angeles, Eloise had a brain injury resulting in Wernicke’s aphasia a breakdown in the symbol system of language. Poetry was the guide and motivation for recovery. This collection is comprised of a series of five-line poems that began as a focusing exercise yet transformed into a remarkable channel for her creativity. These poems are filled with the same features that have pervaded her work, meaning they are serious, at times playful, sometimes beautiful and sometimes goofy. But all have that twist, that meaningful point, that is unique to Eloise’s consciousness.

A Wild Surmise: New & Selected Poems & Recordings

Eloise Klein Healy

Publication Date: March 1, 2013

$19.95 Tradepaper

ISBN: 978-1-59709-759-8


A Wild Surmise: New & Selected Poems & Recordings is Eloise Klein Healy’s seventh book of poetry and the first that includes an audio component. Included are poems from all her previous collections, including her award-winning first collection, Building Some Changes, as well as Artemis In Echo Park and The Islands Project: Poems For Sappho. Healy’s work is immediately recognizable as poetry written by a woman under the influence of feminism, freeway traffic, wilderness (especially in the city), and a uniquely tuned sense of craft. Her work travels easily across time zones, mythologies, the politics of love, and the inevitable loss of family and friends. She searches for a lesbian tradition in literature, lamenting the erasure of lesbian writers and the fragmented history of their work. But Healy’s poetry is not without humor, nor does it shy away from such topics as baseball and the companionship of canines. Like life, poetry to her is “a wild surmise”—never totally translatable, but always worth the attempt.

Praise for A Wild Surmise: New & Selected Poems & Recordings

What a delight it is to have gathered here these poems from previous collections as well as new poems from a poet I have admired for years. Eloise Klein Healy’s straightforward and wry wit underscores her wisdom and the peacefulness that comes from a deeply humane emotional and intellectual knowledge. A Wild Surmise touches on so many things with such clarity and precision it’s like having a handbook to guide us through the world.—Natasha Trethewey, U.S. Poet Laureate, 2012

A Wild Surmise is full of appreciation for the physical from the freeways of LA and ball bearings pouring into a pan to the sun smell of her dog’s fur. From chili-flakes in a shaker to Greek scrolls buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. And through these vivid moments we are given glimpses into the life of a lesbian poet and the culture in which she wrote beginning in the 70s and continuing to the present. Reading Eloise Klein Healy’s New & Selected Poems is like sitting down with a dear friend with a strong cup of tea or a glass of wine and being given the gift of a deep and generous sharing.—Ellen Bass, co-author of The Courage to Heal

Islands Project, The

Eloise Klein Healy

Publication Date: March 1, 2007

$17.95 Tradepaper

ISBN: 978-1-59709-085-8


The Islands Project: Poems For Sappho is a book-length collection of poems intended as a conversation with and investigation of the life of Sappho as can be imagined from her work and historical circumstances. The poems attempt a meeting between a contemporary woman poet and one from antiquity, both of them adrift in time. What can a lesbian poet know of her supposed progenitor? If Sappho is only fragments, is not a lesbian tradition in poetry the same, or does it only feel that way? The Islands Project investigates these questions and deals, at the same time, with the death of the poet’s mother.

Ordinary Wisdom

Eloise Klein Healy

Publication Date: September 1, 2005

$10 Tradepaper

ISBN: 1-59709-056-5


In May of 2004, a wildfire swept through the Temecula Valley in Southern California, destroying in its path Dorland Mountain Colony, the place where the poems in Ordinary Wisdom were written. Dorland was unique among artists’ retreats in an electronic age in that there was no electricity or phones in the cabins. Adjusting to the rhythms of light and darkness was the first task in settling in to work. It was the perfect setting for a project that meant to deal with daily life—its most ordinary manifestations and its most significant messages.


Eloise Klein Healy

Publication Date: April 1, 2002

$11.95 Tradepaper

ISBN: 1-888996-54-4


“Healy is at the top of her form in this book. Check out “Louganis,” a beautiful sestina about beauty and HIV. You’d say the woman is all heart, except that her “craft” is so good. The poet’s elegies are filled with joy’s memory and power, her lust insists on the rights and rites of the body—and her anger is aflame.”—Alicia Ostriker, author of Stealing The Language: The Emergence of Woman’s Poetry In America

“Between little corner taquerias/ and Thai home cooking joints,” Eloise Klein Healy renders a post-modern Los Angeles, weaving elegies, lyrics and meditations into a provocative assemblage. She anchors the book with poems exploring gender identity and social relations, meditating on the Civil Rights movement (“our unnatural disaster over race”), the scourges of breast cancer and AIDS. She elegizes sister-poet Lynda Hull and honors the “oldest human assignment”—burying a parent. Read this collection for its wisdom, rage, and wry wit, for Healy’s intelligent probing into contemporary culture.”—Robin Becker, author of The Horse Fair