Clark County Chronicles: Poet Laureate Bruce Isaacson



reuss it's a pleasure to meet you I reading in your materials to that you submitted to become Clark County's poor laureate you suggested Clark County's poet laureate should provide a spark to enliven the practice and deepen the knowledge of poetry within the community and you suggested for different areas that you plan on doing that committee readings teaching and ontology explain that well we have an ambitious program we're right at the beginning of a two-year poet laureate period we are starting I believe the date is july twenty fifth and open reading at the Winchester cultural center from 6 30 til 745 on it'll be every friday except the third friday because of the very effective program they have ad lot at the west las vegas Arts Council on the third Friday that's a monthly reading but we're going to try and get a weekly open reading happening then we're trying to bring poets of national stature to come to Clark County and talk to us to help us connect to the tradition of poetry the English language tradition the American tradition the wonderful American tradition of poetry we're running workshops I'm teaching a workshop in beak beat poetics free to all who are interested at they can email us at poet laureate Clark County at cox net and we're doing an anthology of Clark County poets we're going to collect poems for the first year and put the anthology together in the second year and we have an ambitious program which includes some other things like poets in the schools and and we have a group of poet laureate representatives those are groups of poets Clark County native poets people who arose here who have been I've known for 10 years or more they're wonderful poets we have a lot of a lot of active tradition here and I I want the people of Clark County to be able to access it more that seems like a lot of internal communication or up right up lifting the stature of poetry internally now externally you also want to build a bridge between las vegas and other national poetry communities how do you do that and why is that important Bruce well you know there's a lot of different ways to do that and I want to be clear there's a lot of people doing that right now the poetry slant Las Vegas has a poetry slam team which is sending people a slant Las Vegas slam poets to the slam championships which are going to be held this year in Oakland California they've been held in previous leaders in Portland back east colorado they've been held all over it's important that we connect to the english and american tradition of poetry because you know achievement in the arts comes from generations and artists standing if you will on the shoulders of one of the other so we stand on the shoulders to some extent we start where the last generation left off we work forward we work together in inman poetry is an individual art but the practice and the knowledge and the techniques are something that are passed among communities and I want our Clark County poets who are excellent to be able to have access to the National what's happening nationally in the United States we have a great MFA program here at in in Las Vegas at UNLV they've made it a program of national prominence but I hope that with my time is in Clark County as Clark County poet laureate to do something that will be arise more broadly based from the community and that will be all of our programs are free you know you don't have to admit to to a select through selection process to to be a part of our process and that's not to put say anything bad about the nationally statuary programs what we're trying to do something that is broad-based and it just has a little different emphasis reading through your education and your experience you've been on both ends of the coast in the barrier and in New York City both very active in both of those communities but you've also been in Las Vegas for 20 years and what I would say during the halcyon days of poetry at cafe negra and cafe espresso roma how is that are you trying to recapture that era or build on that error or does it have anything to do with poetry in 2015 as it was 15 or 20 years ago well I hope we can build on that era there were for those who don't know wonderful readings at cafe espresso a rama which was hosted by john emmons and a succession of other poets as well who were involved in the in the organization and hosting of that reading that reading was going when i came here in 1995 and then the enigma garden cafe readings became very prominent in late 90s i think and before the enigma garden cafe was was torn down those were great readings those were great times and i think you know i like to think that some of my best work was composed against the background of those communities and those readings but I think we can build on that I think that the tradition should be open those were all open communities I want what we do to be open broadly to poets at all levels of Clark County because I think both that's how people will explain the most knowledge and the practice of poetry will expand more broadly among the populace and that kind of approach is also likely to release from the native population whatever extraordinary talent we may have amongst a city of 2 million people and I I think it's likely we do have some also very fascinating in your biography Bruce you studied under and also with Fame beat poet Allen Ginsberg see your favorite poet or has he been the most influential person in poetry in your world he's been he was Allen was very influential he was very important to me as a poet as a teacher you know he was a very patient teacher I had I was very interested in the beat era beat poetics beat writing and I don't think there's another poet who did it with the intellectual expansiveness that Allen did I think he was an American ecstatic in American original and he's he was a great poet and when he passed away you know poetry all over the nation poets were sorry for you know mourned him and I think it was a step backward for for poetry in terms of its influence on the culture in general but i also had relations with a variety of other Beat poets you know Gregory Corso was a marvelous show to watch we brought dai anteprima to las vegas in the late 90s and early 2000s two times michael mcclure the beat poet and was also a winner of an Obie Award for his plays and such we brought him to Las Vegas so you know I I just want to see our poets access the really vibrant tradition of American poetry that's out there for us to just reach out and be a part of it I have a plethora of more poetry questions for you but I'd rather hear you give us some would you know would you do it when I deliver see that I'm going to read from my book which is this book is ghosts among the neon and you can see me that's one of the ghosts there in the on the strip and one of the in front of one of our famous Las Vegas signs and this poem is called life in Las Vegas even in the shadow of casino saurus life Springs irrepressible from the sands artists poets lovers children dream of the seventh gold city to those who see in Vegas always what is small we shall contain strange multitudes old West gun racked in a pickup the Liberace Museum Street dudes lined up to work new West corporate Disney Soros every great nation's culture presented in a buffet cuisine Las Vegas la extended East to absurdity a strip of Hollywood babble-on spread-eagled over the Sierra Las Vegas the only town with enough twisted imagination to conceive a life-size replica of New York and the humor to call that a resort because no saurus gold flashes in teeth but maybe here will be raised up the new man beautiful sexual immune to breasts on a billboard casino Soros browses in the dawn after a typical night on the kill later the Sun will plump up like a tomato going bad later the Beast will stretch its talons in advertising and roar back about blackjack insurance and family fun but there's also the gathering of the art tribe on the sands or I'm alone 6am writing poems in the natural light of the desert in a moment before the desert begins when casino neon still outshines the Sun and Here I am a Jew in the desert found in the fabled Seven Cities of Gold flamingo dunes Sahara we are shimmering fantastic stuff Bruce for more information on anything you've doing or somebody that's watching this how can they find out more information well they're Clark County has some information up on their website we have open reading set but let me just say if you want to email poet laureate Clark County @ cox.net we have workshops planned open readings we'd be glad to hear from you look forward to seeing you again thank you thank you

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