Clark County Poet Laureate
The Clark County Poet Laureate program's mission is to promote poetry as an art form and as a means of engaging the community. The Poet Laureate Program was created in 2014 by the Clark County Board of Commissioners who authorized the approval of a program operating budget in the amount not to exceed $10,000 ($2500 for a stipend and up to $7500 for operating expenses).
Every two years, a poet is selected by a panel to represent the County and carry on the program's mission. The program is based at Winchester Cultural Center and runs year-round throughout diverse locations in the County including universities, colleges, schools, libraries, local businesses and community centers. The program impacts a wide range of age groups from elementary school children to senior citizens. Depending on the event led by the selected poet, the number of participants can range from small groups during a workshop of 10 participants to a National Poet Laureate presentation, which attracts hundreds of people. The workshops, readings, and lectures are open to the public.
The Clark County Poet Laureate program aimed at rebuilding the popularity of poetry, increasing literacy and building community. The idea was to grow audiences for poetry and for Nevada poets in particular. The poets laureate who has directed the program was bursting with ideas. Our first poet laureate, Bruce Isaacson, came to the position with a detailed plan focused on local poets and young people as the first targets. At first, the County put no money into the project, so the first laureate created Poetry Promise, a corporation, to raise funds. When he managed to bring the new National poet laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera, to Nevada to read his work, the tremendous response pushed the program forward with poets, young people, and those already interested in poetry. The second poet laureate, Vogue Robinson, used poetry slams to draw young people into the program and added seniors as a target audience, sending poets to read in retirement and nursing homes in the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project. She worked with Isaacson to bring to life one of his original goals, to extend the program into local schools, where poets are actually paid to teach poetry and continue bringing the National Poet Laureate to the Vegas Valley. The third laureate, Heather Lang-Cassera, created a banquet of new poetry programs, reaching farther into the community, even as the first two laureates continue their efforts. Each laureate reimagined the vision of the program far beyond its initial extent.