The Nevada Poet Laureate

promoting the art of poetry, literacy and learning

 

Nevada Governor Joe Lombardo Appoints Shaun Griffin As Nevada State Poet Laureate through April 2026

Shaun Griffin

The Nevada Arts Council, a division of the Nevada Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs that serves to stimulate artistic, creative, cultural and economic activity across the state, is announcing today that Nevada Governor Joe Lombardo has appointed Shaun Griffin to serve as the Nevada State Poet Laureate from May 1, 2024 through April 30, 2026. As the Nevada State Poet Laureate, Griffin will work to propagate the art of poetry and encourage literacy and learning at events and through initiatives during his term. In addition to a variety of appearances he is expected to make across the state, Griffin is also expected to undertake a cultural project of personal significance that will help bring art to those who might not otherwise have access to it. 

Griffin was selected out of four nominated candidates from around the state through a panel process facilitated by the Nevada Arts Council. He follows published author and University of Nevada, Reno, professor emeritus Gailmarie Pahmeier who served from September 2021 through August 2023.

Griffin is the co-founder and former director of northwestern Nevada nonprofit, Community Chest, which has served children and families by providing resources since 1991. He is also the former founding director of the state’s homeless youth education office. After a long list of contributions to the art world ranging from poetry workshops at correctional centers to the launch of a 25 year running poetry reading series at Reno’s Sundance Books and Music in honor of National Poetry Month to authoring seven books of poetry, Griffin was inducted into the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame in 2014. Additionally, he published a memoir focused around his efforts to build community in rural Nevada titled “Anthem for a Burnished Land,” published in 2016.

“The caliber of artists Nevada has to select from for such an important distinction is both impressive and daunting, and we believe Governor Lombardo’s appointment of Shaun Griffin will have a profound impact on the state’s ability to deepen its already meaningful connection to the arts for both our economy and our quality of life,” said Tony Manfredi, executive director of the Nevada Arts Council. “We are excited to see Griffin’s contributions strengthen Nevadan’s connection to the arts and each other during his term as Nevada State Poet Laureate.”

The Nevada State Poet Laureate is a Governor appointed position. The Nevada Arts Council oversees the Poet Laureate selection process and submits qualified individuals to the Governor for final review and appointment. The Nevada State Poet Laureate is expected to make multiple appearances per quarter for a variety of cultural communities and geographic areas. In particular, the Nevada State Laureate will attend the Governor’s inauguration if their term overlaps, the Nevada Arts Council Conference (Intersections, The Nevada Create Conference), the Nevada State Poetry Out Loud finals, wherein students from across the state compete in reciting poetry for the honor of representing Nevada at the national competition, and more. Nevada Poet Laureates are awarded a $5,000 grant to help offset travel and project costs throughout their term. This funding is provided in part by the State of Nevada and its Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, and the National Endowment for the Arts. 

Griffin’s first official appearance will be at Intersections, The Nevada Creative Conference, taking place May 30 through June 1 in Reno, Nevada, a conference designed to provide ways for artists, educators, businesses and community leaders to better integrate art in their respective environments for improved outcomes. Griffin will be reading his work during the event. 

As part of the nomination process, candidates were asked to submit samples of their writing. One of Griffin’s submissions is as follows:

Raveled

Your letter came—the postmark
derivative of another time—

the one you straddle
with pencil and paper, the anti-electric

years spent at your desk, burning
words to page, pages to books—

so many I cannot count them,
between the lives of a man

sitting at the river’s edge,
the brown water pushing down

to the eddies under the maple
and rosebud—a man letting go

of this time, this place without
a way to step in or across—

what the future does to its
followers, and you abide the current,

the shadows float by, unattended—
winnowing farms and fealty,

the bones beneath the land—
this time you set loose, downstream,

without so much as a cutbank
in the rivered shallows below.


Overview of Poet Laureate Appointment

The Nevada State Poet Laureate is a Governor appointed position. The Nevada Arts Council oversees the Poet Laureate selection process and submits qualified individuals to the Governor for final review and appointment. The role of the Poet Laureate is to propagate the art of poetry and encourage literacy and learning throughout the state.

In-Person Appearances/Expected Travel

A minimum of two in-person or online readings targeting a variety of cultural communities and geographic areas of the state per quarter, including Governor’s inauguration, Nevada Arts Council Conference, Governor’s Global Tourism Summit, Nevada State Poetry Out Loud Finals, and other events to be determined. Laureates are encouraged to gather requests for participation in events and consider them in cooperation with Nevada Arts Council on a bi-monthly or quarterly basis when setting their schedule.

Project

The Nevada Poet Laureate will be expected to undertake a significant cultural project during his or her term, such as bringing poetry to people or to a region of the state that might otherwise be underserved in this regard. The Poet Laureate will engage a variety of constituencies, enriching the lives of residents by sharing and promoting poetry through public appearances, readings, workshops, and digital and social media. The scope and budget of the project will be determined in collaboration with the Nevada Arts Council staff after the appointment.

Recognition

The Nevada Poet Laureate will be awarded a $5000 Artist Project Grant each year to offset the cost of travel to public engagements and to fund the two-year project requirement. This grant also serves to acknowledge and recognize the Nevada Poet Laureate’s time and talents. Compensation from the Nevada Arts Council may be considered taxable income.

For More Information Contact:

Stephen Reid
Artist Services Specialist
775-687-7108
sreid@nevadaculture.org

Funding for the Nevada Poet Laureate Program is provided by:

State of Nevada / Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs • National Endowment for the Arts • Round Mountain Gold • The Orchard Foundation