Henderson, Nevada - Clark County Poet Laureate Bruce Isaacson announces a reading by U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera will be held on the campus of Nevada State College in Henderson at 7 p.m. Saturday, September 26.
The reading will mark Herrera’s Nevada debut after being appointed the 21st U.S. Poet Laureate by the Library of Congress in June 2015. He earned an MFA at the prestigious Iowa Writers’ Workshop and is the author of 28 books of poetry, novels for young adults and collections for children, most recently Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes (2014), a picture book. His poetry books include “Half the World in Light” (University of Arizona Press) and “187 Reasons Mexicanos Can’t Cross the Border “ (City Lights). He is the first Hispanic poet to serve in the position. When his appointment was announced he said: "This is a mega-honor for me, for my family and my parents who came up north before and after the Mexican Revolution of 1910 — the honor is bigger than me.”
Herrera’s reading is part of the “Poets of National Stature,” program initiated by Bruce Isaacson, Clark County’s first Poet Laureate. The program seeks to expand the knowledge and practice of poetry in Clark County. “Poetry is important—it reflects the feelings which bind us to the values and beliefs we hold closest,” said Isaacson.
The reading is co-sponsored by Nevada State College and held the same week of the dedication of two new campus buildings, including a 250-seat theater, where the reading will take place. “Nevada State College is thrilled to have this opportunity to support the work of our national poet laureate, and the work of our inaugural Clark County poet laureate,” said Angela Brommel, Director of the Office of Arts & Culture Initiatives at Nevada State College. “It is an honor to co-sponsor this historic event which corresponds with the opening of our new buildings on campus, and the unveiling of the founding NSC Art Collection. We look forward to a bright future of creating community-based programming with local arts partners.”
Herrera’s visit also echoes changes in Clark County, which is now approximately one-third Hispanic. That growth is being answered by Clark County Parks and Recreation, which is intimately involved in the presentation of the PLOTUS (Poet Laureate of the United States) to broaden cultural programming. “A visit by our brand new national poet laureate, a Hispanic born and raised in the U.S., who grew to such prominence through language and art, will make an indelible mark on our cultural landscape,” said Patrick Gaffey, Clark County Cultural Supervisor.
The reading will take place on the campus of Nevada State College in Henderson, near the Clark County Museum. All events, including a poetry workshop at a location to be determined, will be free and open to the public.
Juan Felipe Herrera was born in Fowler, Calif., in 1948. The son of migrant farm workers, he moved often, living in tents and trailers along the roads of Southern California, and attended school in small towns from San Francisco to San Diego. In 1972 he graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles with a bachelor’s degree in social anthropology. He then attended Stanford University, where he received a master’s degree in social anthropology, and in 1990 received a Masters of Fine Arts degree at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He was previously Poet Laureate of California.
Bruce Isaacson has lived in Las Vegas since 1995. He earned an M.F.A. at Brooklyn College with Allen Ginsberg as his thesis advisor. Isaacson was a finalist in the first season of the poetry slam at the renowned Nuyorican Poets Café. As publisher of Zeitgeist Press, founded in 1986, he has produced more than 100 titles. The inaugural Poet Laureate for Clark County plans to publish an anthology of work by regional poets by the end of his two-year term. Clark County created the position of county poet laureate and introduced Isaacson as its first laureate June 12, the same day the Library of Congress announced the selection of Herrera as PLOTUS.
Angela Brommel sits on the City of Henderson’s Commission on Cultural Arts and Tourism, as well as the board for the Las Vegas Valley Poets. The reading will be the final event of Spirit Week at Nevada State College, which was founded in 2002 and grown to encompass more than 3,000 students representing diverse cultural and economic backgrounds.