Nevada Poetry ProjectNevadan to Nevadan: What I Need to Tell You
The Nevada Arts Council and Poet Laureate Gailmarie Pahmeier invite you to submit your poems for Nevadan to Nevadan: What I Need to Tell You.
This ongoing statewide poetry project uses the epistolary style —which is just a fancy way of saying “letter poems.”
Goals: The goal of this project is to encourage Nevadans to speak to one another via poetry, to tell one another something about what it means to live in a beautiful but complicated state. Participants are encouraged to write letters to people and places in our state that need to hear who they are and what matters to them. To paraphrase Cornel West, if you’ve got a fingerprint, you’ve got a voice. It’s yours to thread into the larger tapestry of Nevada culture.
How to Start: This is a project about story, about individual voices woven into that larger tapestry. Don’t worry too much about making a poem, just write honestly, using concrete details, observed and felt experiences. For example, if you’re writing about what it’s like to live in the high desert, include visual and sensory images: what do you see? Smell? Hear?
Tips: Poetry is not always serious in tone; humor is cherished. Although a couple of the example poems do indeed speak to an individual, a writer might take on a more unusual persona. A writer might not address a person, but an entity. For example:
- What would Wendover Will want to say to Vegas Vic?
- What would Highway 50 want to say to the Las Vegas Strip?
- What would Elko want to say to Carson City?
This project encourages participants to be authentically themselves and yet also encourages them to imagine what it is to be other. This project encourages compassion and revelation about what it means to be a Nevadan by honoring our many voices and our fragile climate.
For questions please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
We all look forward to hearing your voices and seeing your poems in print! Thank you!
Download a copy of the guidelines here.
- Although traditional letters begin with a salutation (Dear Neighbor…) and end with a complimentary close ( Best Wishes. Sincerely…), this isn’t required for a work to thrive as a letter. You might want to begin with a startling image—windchimes rattling all night; coyotes running along the railroad tracks; the wail of another siren, the scent of wet sagebrush. The point is to begin with something that will catch the reader’s attention and to close when the poem feels like it has made its message known.
- Try to include concrete detail and sensory imagery. Don’t just tell your reader a story; show your reader your story. Think in terms of senses: what’s seen? Felt? Heard? Smelled? Can you even taste something?
- Don’t worry about being “poetic.” Just write in your authentic voice, your personal vernacular. Use a vocabulary and a style that’s wholly yours.
- Consider including a photograph with your submission, not as an illustration, but as an enhancement. If your poem is written from Seven Magic Mountains or the International Car Forest, including a photo is a way to visually bring your reader into your work.
- Do note that by submitting to this project, you are granting the Poet Laureate and the Nevada Arts Council the right to publish your work. Include your contact info (email address is best) and your name and the place from which you’re writing. Please also indicate if you are willing to allow the Poet Laureate to do small edits. We ask that you please avoid submitting poems that include excessive explicit language, hate speech, graphic depictions of suicidal ideation or sexual assault, pornographic language, and slurs of any kind.
- Most importantly, have some fun with this project; it’s intended to be liberating, heartfelt, and inclusive. Nevadans are writing to other Nevadans and specific Nevada communities, but perhaps we can speak beyond our borders and tell those outside of our state who we are and why we live and work here. Let’s get heard.
Click here for access to the media kit.
Example Epistolary Poems:
Letter to Laura from South Fork
From Reno, NV
LETTER TO LAS VEGAS REGARDING THE OAKLAND A’S
East Bay Resident, California
Letter to Vlautin from Reno