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A Farewell From Nevada Poet Laureate, Gailmarie Pahmeier

Dear Nevadans,

My tenure as your state Poet Laureate is about to end, and I wanted to reach out to say something significant about these last couple of years. For days I agonized over what to say, how to say it, what words could I bring forth that might reflect how meaningful this experience has been for me. But I kept coming back to the simplest of statements: Thank You. Serving our state as laureate has been an honor, a challenge, and truly a journey into the heart of what it means to be a Nevadan, what it means to love this beautiful and complicated place. We are a diverse people with a certain commonality—we want to be heard and seen, included, understood, and acknowledged. My laureate project, an online gallery of epistolary poetry written by Nevadans for Nevadans, published over 200 voices from throughout the state.  The title of this project was Nevadan to Nevadan: What I Need to Tell You, and those of you who participated had much to say and said it in ways full of detail, honesty, soul, and sometimes, grit and grief.  Some of the writers who submitted to this project were indeed already known as stellar literary artists, but others were citizens for whom writing a poem, and seeing it published, was a first-time endeavor, one that I hope will be cherished and encourage those writers to continue to write and read and search out truth. 

Of course, I must recognize some of the people and organizations that made this all such a joy. Governor Sisolak, thank you for making this appointment possible, and Governor Lombardo, thank you for your commitment to continue this program. All the staff at the Nevada Arts Council worked to promote the laureateship, and a special shoutout goes to Kassandra Andicoechea, Sapira Cheuk, Stephen Reid and Tony Manfredi. Thank you.  

We are a diverse people with a certain commonality—we want to be heard and seen, included, understood, and acknowledged.

-Gailmarie Pahmeier

The Academy of American Poets awarded me a fellowship which came with funding that allowed me to engage poetry ambassadors who not only submitted their own work to the project but also generated submissions from workshops and events they conducted. Thank you Lindsay Wilson, Courtney Cliften, Angela Brommel, and Elizabeth Quiñones-Zaldaña. I am also grateful to the communities who invited me to read, present, or conduct workshops to support the literary arts: Carson City, Reno, Las Vegas, Henderson, Elko, Ely, Mesquite, Silver City, Incline Village, Winnemucca, and Fallon. The hosts in these communities were gracious and accommodating and generated fully engaged audiences. Thank you. A special thanks to Oats Park Art Center in Fallon, where we premiered a staged reading of lines and images from the first 100 submissions to the project, and to Jeanmarie Simpson, theatre artist, who served as a reader and our director. She gave tirelessly of her time and expertise to develop a script from such a large body of material. Thank you.  And a thanks goes out to all the readers who performed this on the Oats Park stage: Joanne Mallari, B Fulkerson, Frank X. Mullen, Everett Ray George, nila northSun, Andrea Martinez, and Daniel Enrique Perez. The script is available for reading and performing; it’s a gift to Nevada. But the most important gift given these past couple of years? That would be your voices, your support, your belief that language matters. To understand a place, to embrace it, to question it, to challenge it—this is the work of a literate culture. This is the work of poets.

As I write this, we don’t yet know who our next state laureate will be, but I hope you will give this poet as much of yourselves as you’ve given me. Nevada, Nevadans, you are treasures. I know I’m blessed to be here. Thank you.

Gailmarie Pahmeier

The 2024 Poet Laureate selection process is currently underway. The nomination period has concluded, all applications have been panel reviewed and are currently under review by the Governors Office. A selection is anticipated to be announced soon.