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Clark County names Nevada State arts director Brommel as new poet laureate

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Angela M. Brommel
Angela M. Brommel

The noted poet Rita Dove once wrote that “poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful.”

Dove served as the United States Poet Laureate in the early 1990s. Her job was to extend the reach and influence of the art form throughout the country.

Much like the U.S. poet laureate, communities around the nation come together every couple of years to select someone who best exemplifies work as a poet.

In Southern Nevada, the current poet laureate also serves the executive director of arts, culture and advancement at Nevada State College: Angela M. Brommel.

She called it the highest honor. 

"It means that you've been selected by a community of other poets, or poetry lovers, and supporters," she said.

The role will allow her to explore projects she otherwise wouldn't have the opportunity to do. To her, poetry "puts into words things happening, feelings, memories that maybe we had never thought of that way when we lack the language."

Poetry is also community, Brommel said.

"There have been so many situations of grief and difficulty, that having a place to come together as a community helps us know how to move forward or to address what has happened or is happening," she said.

In elementary school, she had a poem published in the Des Moines Register. "From the very beginning, people just gave me paper."

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In 2018, she published a chapbook, Plutonium & Platinum Blonde, and later released a full-length poetry collection, Mojave in July. 

Though she grew up in Iowa, her writing found roots in Nevada.

"I didn't become a Nevada nature writer until I sort of made the transition to say, 'Okay, if you're gonna live here, and you need to love it, and to love it, you need to really look at it and see it and not compare it,'" she said.


Mojave in July by Angela Brommel

You can’t explain to friends from home how the desert makes it better, but you try:

Imagine a heat so dry that it presses down into the earth, releasing its scent so that it takes on the comforting smell of clay pots in your grandmother’s kitchen when you were a child, or your hideout under the evergreens where you used to sit for hours smelling only the dirt, the sap, the pine.

Imagine a smell that reminds you of the kitchen on holidays: sage, rosemary, and something you chase that is reminiscent of honey, but feels like love. 

Some people still fight it. They call the heat oppressive, they call it unrelenting. They have not learned how to live within it.

You must learn to smell the water beneath the surface.

You must learn to let the heat pass through you, 
warming your bones, your ligaments, and all the pieces 
that you call you.

Let the heat draw out everything unneeded.
Let it put you to bed midday.
Let it make you new.

 

Guests

Angela M. Brommel, Clark County Poet Laureate

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