Heather Lang-Cassera will be Clark County's new poet laureate, effective June 1.
Eleven people were nominated for the position and Lang-Cassera was chosen by a committee of five Las Vegas-area citizens from four finalists. She is the third person to hold the title, a position responsible for promoting poetry across Southern Nevada.
"Ms. Lang-Cassera is an accomplished poet and writer who already is much engaged with promoting poetry across the Las Vegas Valley," said Clark County Commission Chairman Marilyn Kirkpatrick. "I'm excited about her plans to expand outreach even further as Clark County Poet Laureate. Her endeavors will help boost Las Vegas culture and our overall quality of life. I also want to thank Vogue Robinson for her hard work as the previous poet laureate. She did a wonderful job raising the profile of poetry and spoken word," an oral art. "Vogue, like her predecessor, even brought the Poet Laureate of the United States to Las Vegas for a warmly received public appearance."
Lang-Cassera holds a Master of Fine Arts in Poetry with a Graduate Certificate in Literary Translation. In 2017, she was named Las Vegas' "Best Local Writer or Poet" by the readers of KNPR's Desert Companion. Lang-Cassera's poems have been published by The Normal School, North American Review, Pleiades, Red Rock Review, South Dakota Review, and many other local and internationally renowned journals and have been on exhibit in the Nevada Humanities Program Gallery, the Left of Center Art Gallery, and elsewhere. Her recent publication, I was the girl with a moon-shaped face, available through Zeitgeist-Press, received media attention from Las Vegas Weekly in an article, "Heather Lang Cassera Delivers the Story of a Lifetime Through Poetry."
Lang-Cassera curated Legs of Tumbleweeds, Wings of Lace, an anthology of literature by Nevada women who give back to their local communities, funded by the Nevada Arts Council and National Endowment for the Arts. At Nevada State College, Lang-Cassera teaches Composition, Creative Writing, World Literature, and more and serves as a founding member of the NSC Arts & Culture Council. She serves as World Literature Editor for The Literary Review, Faculty Advisor for 300 Days of Sun, and Editor-in-Chief for Tolsun Books, all of which have championed exceptional work by Clark County poets among other emerging and established writers.
"Poetry is a means for exploring the magnificent connections we have to each other and to this world, including our brilliant Southern Nevada, which surrounds and embraces us. Poetry is in everyone, and everything is poetry, and when I really sit down to think about that, it takes my breath away," said Lang-Cassera, "I am absolutely honored to be serving our Clark County community, a home which has given me so much."
Lang-Cassera is already active in the poetry community, leading this free, public programming:
- Poetry Nuts & Bolts, to which poets bring a one-page poem to workshop in a safe, encouraging environment every second Thursday of the month at the Green Valley Library.
- Poetry Matters!, a First Friday reading series co-hosted by Lang-Cassera and Ashley "Ms. AyeVee" Vargas at the Nevada Humanities Program Gallery increasing awareness about local poetry in the high-traffic Downtown Arts District.
- Las Vegas, Let's Submit Poetry, a bimonthly educational submission workgroup to empower Clark County's poetic voices, increasing their visibility in national and international publication landscapes.
Meanwhile, Lang-Cassera intends to implement additional programs and projects such as:
- Pups & Poetry, a poetry reading series, modeled after a one-night event, to raise awareness about poetry as an art form and raise funds for The Truman Brooks' Memorial Scholarship Fund for The Animal Foundation.
- Poetry Toolbox, a traveling generative workshop series anchored in single-sentence poems, promoting poetry as an art form and a medium for inspirational public commentary throughout Clark County.
- Holiday poetry gatherings, no-cost communal spaces for get-togethers celebrating poetry on select federal holidays to foster the community through the written and spoken word.
- An Anthology of Nevada Poets who give back to their communities to celebrate high-caliber poetry by literary stewards.
Furthermore, the new poet laureate plans to actively support current Poetry Promise, Inc. programming and projects, as initiated and directed by the inaugural and second Clark County poets laureate, including:
- Poets of National Stature Reading Series, a series of readings and workshops by Poets of National Stature to expand the knowledge and practice of poetry in Clark County and to create energy for our cultural communities.
- Alzheimer's Poetry Project, programming which facilitates the creativity of people living with Alzheimer's disease and related dementia.
- Poets in the Schools, a program that integrates local poets into the classroom to teach and perform poetry to encourage youth writing & reading skills, healthy self-expression, and build classroom community.
- An Anthology of Poetry by Clark County Youth, encouraging and celebrating growth in the literary arts, reading, writing, and self-expression of thoughts, ideas and feelings.
Lang-Cassera hopes that community members will join these events by participating and/or volunteering. If you are interested in working with the new Clark County Poet Laureate, please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, (702) 715-1397, or www.heatherlang.cassera.net.
Those serving on the selection committee for the poet laurate were businesswoman and poetry advocate Cathy Brooks, poet Paul Michelson, first Clark County Poet Laureate Bruce Isaacson, former County commissioner Chris Giunchigliani and UNLV professor Catherine Bellver.