Poetry in Nevada: An Introduction to our Poet Laureates

Jenny Justice

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Poetry in Nevada

One of the best jokes my ex-fiance wrote, with my help, was one that he can no longer use. His loss, in many ways. It was about the fact that he was a comedian and I was a poet. The punchline was ‘so we’re broke!’ Hilarious still, even if triggering. Poetry is my life line at all times. I write it, I read it, I celebrate it. It has been there for me through the high and good times of my past relationship, through the hurt and pain of it, and now here, in the aftermath poetry is my passion and healer.

I know that poetry is not something everyone is into, or maybe knows how to get into. And to that I want to pledge my support and devotion to opening up poetry for everyone. Yes, you can write it. Yes, you can read it. Yes, you can respect it and celebrate it.

One of the ways we do that here in this nation is through having poet laureates. A poet laureate is like a big time big deal poet. This person’s job is to write and to represent poetry for the city, state or nation. They are officially appointed poets who write poems for specific events and occasions of importance.

Our national poet laureate is Joy Harjo. From the Library of Congress website:

“Joy Harjo is the first Native American poet to serve in the position—she is an enrolled member of the Muscogee Creek Nation. She was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on May 9, 1951, and is the author of nine books of poetry—including An American Sunrise (2019); Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings (2015); The Woman Who Fell From the Sky (1994), which received the Oklahoma Book Arts Award; and In Mad Love and War (1990), which received an American Book Award and the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award. Harjo has also written a memoir, Crazy Brave (W. W. Norton, 2012), which won the 2013 PEN Center USA literary prize for creative nonfiction, as well as a children’s book, The Good Luck Cat (Harcourt, Brace 2000), and a young adult book, For a Girl Becoming (University of Arizona Press, 2009).”

Nevada has two local poet laureates, Heather Lang-Cassera is the poet laureate of Clark County, and Pan Pantoja is the poet laureate of Reno.

For more information on poetry in Reno, and in Nevada, you can check out your local government websites or visit your local libraries, in person or online. I know that Reno has a local poetry slam group and that our local bookstores are holding month long poetry events and celebrations of poetry in honor of April being National Poetry Month.

To celebrate poetry this month you can try writing some. Or you can pick up some poetry at our local bookstores. Or attend the local events in our area that are focused on national poetry month.

Sundance Books has a month long celebration of poetry and poets.

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Jenny Justice is a poet, writer, mother and teacher. She is just a girl in the world, new to town and learning to love this city - Reno, NV. She writes about all things local from food, to fun, to what you need to know to have a good day, good week, or good time in The Biggest Little City. Jenny loves books and will encourage that love of books with her book reviews. She also writes about relationships, dating, parenting, and other topics when the muse moves her. Follow her for good food, good books, and good fun especially in the Biggest Little City in the world.

Reno, NV
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