Last year, when Nevadans were asked to write poems about the state in the style of letters, Nevada poet laureate and project organizer Gailmarie Pahmeier didn’t know what to expect, nor did she know whether many folks would accept the literary challenge.
She needn’t have worried.
“It’s been a great success,” Pahmeier said. “We’ve received way over 100 submissions to the project, from at least 12 (of 17 Nevada) counties, from writers who identify as poets, and from writers for whom this is a first poem and, most certainly, a first publication.”
A live audience will get a taste of the poems so far submitted to Nevadan to Nevadan: What I Need to Tell You, the Nevada Poetry Project at 2 p.m., Saturday, June 10, at the Oats Park Art Center, 151 E. Park St., in Fallon. A cadre of Nevadans who represent arts, education, politics and journalism will offer a readers’ theater performance of work submitted to project. Playwright Jeanmarie Simpson created the script.
“It’s a sort of collage, of lines and images from all the poems submitted by March 17,” Pahmeier said.
The project, sponsored by the Nevada Arts Council, is ongoing, with no current deadline. The submissions, Pahmeier said, spotlight both the state and the poets who composed the works.
“Poetry gives us mirrors and windows, and lets us see ourselves and others through a vulnerable, and yet, powerful medium: language,” she said. “I think the most meaningful comment I receive after a reading is from someone who says, essentially, ‘That’s my story, too.’”
Sharing poems and encouraging others to write them, Pahmeier said, “are ways we acknowledge our being alive, being present, being essential threads in the tapestry of our communities. … Poetry reminds us that, although we are sometimes lonely, we are not alone.”
The readers at the Fallon event will include:
nila northSun is a poet and tribal historian, and she’s considered an influential writer in the second wave of the Native American renaissance. Born in Schurz, Nev., she’s the daughter of Indigenous activist Adam Fortunate Eagle and lives on the Fallon Paiute Shoshone Reservation. northSun is a recipient of the Silver Pen Award from the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame and the author of several collections of poetry. Her work appears in the recent anthology Living Nations, Living Words, edited by former United States Poet Laureate Joy Harjo.
Andrea Martinez is a Nevada-raised visual artist with a day job in health care information technology. Her earliest years were spent in rural Colorado and Wyoming; she has lived in Northern Nevada for 37 years. She describes her intersectional identities as “Mexican-American, queer, first-generation college graduate, full-bodied, working-class woman.”
Joanne Mallari is a Reno-based Filipino-American poet. She has served as a teaching artist for Teen Empowerment, a program sponsored by Sierra Arts Foundation. In 2020, she joined the English department faculty at the University of Nevada, Reno, where she teaches courses in first-year composition and creative writing. Her debut chapbook, Daughter Tongue, was published by Kelsay Books.
Everett Ray George is an enrollee of the Fallon Paiute Shoshone Tribe, a founding member of the Rough Talk Sweethearts theater troupe, and the grandson of Ray Holly. He was a proud super-senior at Churchill County High School and is previously known for his work at the Fox Peak Station down the street. Currently, he’s at Stepping Stones youth shelter and, on a really good night, is able to write poems after a shift.
Gailmarie Pahmeier is a UNR professor emerita. She’s the author of six collections of poetry and served the city of Reno as its inaugural poet laureate. She’s received honors and awards from the Nevada Arts Council and Nevada Humanities. She’s currently Nevada’s poet laureate and a 2022 Laureate Fellow of the Academy of American Poets.
Jeanmarie Simpson has been writing and performing since 1972 and has been a Nevada Arts Council roster artist for 39 years. She is a member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society and the Dramatists Guild of America and is retired from Actors’ Equity Association and SAG-AFTRA.
Daniel Enrique Pérez is a poet and scholar who serves as associate dean for the College of Liberal Arts at UNR. He also is an associate professor of Chicanx and Latinx studies and a faculty associate of the gender, race and identity program. He is a founding member of Teatro Bravo, a Latino theater company in Phoenix, and has published several works related to theater and performance.
Bob Fulkerson, a fifth-generation Nevadan, is the lead national organizer for Third Act. Their first act was serving as executive director of Citizen Alert, Nevada’s first statewide watchdog organization, raising a daughter and coming out. Their second act was marrying their husband from rural Nevada, co-founding the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, and serving as executive director for a quarter century. Their third act is helping raise two grandkids and doing everything in their power to ensure they have a shot at a livable planet.
Frank X. Mullen is the editor of the Reno News & Review and an author, historian, actor and adjunct journalism instructor. He was inducted into the Nevada Newspaper Hall of Fame in 2021.