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Vogue Robinson named Clark County’s new poet laureate

Favorite poets: Maya Angelou, Nikki Giovanni and Eve Ensler.

Favorite poem: “I haven’t read enough for that yet,” the poet answers with a laugh. “Give me a lifetime, and I will tell you an answer.”

Meet Vogue Robinson, who on June 1 officially will become Clark County’s second-ever poet laureate.

A committee of poets chose Robinson, 30, for the position on April 5. Her resume includes stints as a poet and competitor on the valley’s Battle Born slam poetry team, and she will assume the honorary position the day after current poet laureate Bruce Isaacson’s term concludes.

Patrick Gaffey, cultural program supervisor for the Clark County Department of Parks and Recreation, said this year’s nominees “were extraordinarily solid. As a matter of fact, during our deliberations … the committee was pretty unanimous that if we chose this person or that person, we can’t go wrong.”

Among the qualities that impressed the committee was Robinson’s “positivity” and selflessness, Gaffey said. “She’s well-known in the poetry community, and everybody had the impression that she puts a high value on promoting other poets and not just herself.”

Isaacson said he and Robinson have been friends for years. “I think super-highly of her as a poet, and I applaud the committee’s decision,” he said.

Robinson is a graduate of San Diego State University, earning a bachelor’s degree in English and an English teaching credential. Her work has been published in several collections, including “Vogue 3:16 Selected Poem,” a 2014 collection of her work, and the upcoming “Clark: An Anthology of Clark County Poets.”

Robinson has presented her work in several venues around the valley and is executive director of Poetry Promise Inc. (poetrypromise.org), which develops community-based programs to promote poetry and the literary arts in Clark County.

Robinson moved to Las Vegas in March 2013 and, she said, immediately became involved in the valley’s poetry community. Her love of poetry goes back to a childhood filled with books.

“My grandma was a teacher, so when you’ve got family in education, education is pretty much your life,” she said. “So our home really was a massive library (and) I did a lot of reading.”

Then, “I had a lot of really great teachers who pushed me into writing,” Robinson said. Her love of poetry took root in third grade, when she wrote poems for a spring break project. In college, a friend introduced her to spoken word poetry.

Even now, she says, “I’m fascinated with the idea that you can say so much with so little. And then, just sharing it, in doing spoken word, you end up connecting with people on a different level.”

Robinson plans to continue programs Isaacson initiated as poet laureate, including a Poets of National Stature program that has brought nationally recognized poets to Clark County for readings and workshops, an awards program for students, and a program to bring poets into schools.

Also on her to-do list is establishing a 24-hour poetry event downtown and taking poetry events out of their usual venues and into such less-traditional venues as retirement communities.

Robinson’s term as poet laureate will run for two years. The Clark County Commission established the honorary position to promote poetry as an art form and as “a medium for inspirational public commentary” in Southern Nevada.

The post “has been an unpaid position, but this time we are going to ask county commissioners for a stipend,” Gaffey said. “It won’t be a lot of money, but Bruce ended up investing some of his own money in the various projects, and we want to support the new laureate.”

Gaffey said plans are to formally present Robinson to county commissioners “sometime around the time that she takes office.”

Contact John Przybys at jprzybys@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0280. Follow @JJPrzybys on Twitter.

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