Gailmarie Pahmeier – Nevada’s Poet Laureate – Nationally Recognized

By the Academy of American Poets for her art and her public projects

A day or so ago Alyson Sinclair, founder of Nectar Literary, sent the Sierra Nevada Ally some wonderful news: Gailmarie Pahmeier, Nevada’s Poet Laureate, has received a special recognition from the Academy of American Poets, one of 22 individuals nationally to be so recognized by The Academy in support of these poets’ public projects.

The Academy of American Poets was founded in 1934 to support American poets at all stages of their careers and to foster the appreciation of contemporary poetry— the producer of, Poem-a-Day, National Poetry Month, and more.

“Without poetry, we lose our way.” —Joy Harjo, U.S. Poet Laureate & Academy of American Poets Chancellor (2019– )

Read more about the recognition here:

Listen to and read a recent poem by Gailmarie: Address What Matters

You know you want Marilyn’s dress.
Not the one your mother wanted, not
the rhinestone second-skin she sang his song in—
Happy Birthday, Mr. President–not that dress.

You want the simpler but also sleekly tight
little thing she wore here, in this Nevada town,
the dress she wore while drinking shots at this bar
in Dayton. Cocktail cherries, halter back.

You want this dress because she wore it here
but also because everyone who watched her
learned of her secret special talent,
how she could wield a paddleball 100 times

and never miss a strike. Her hips, egg yolks sliding
around a big bowl, kept time, and so did the men
who loved her, or wanted to. No one, not even
Huston nor Miller, knew she could do this,

could create this moment of pure carnal joy.
The movie was The Misfits, and you watch it
every year because it matters, Marilyn matters,
this bar where you and your third husband

spend long summer hours–it all matters.
Everyone has a story here, and some
remember Marilyn, or say they do.
If you had her dress, you could be fearless,

could show everyone who’s ever doubted
that you have skill, you can shudder air.
You would move with a ferocious heat
like the dry desert dust, which is where,
when you’re done here, you’re headed, no matter what.

The Normal School, vol. 10, issue 1, Spring 2017

Gailmarie Pahmeier (Photo credit Donald Berinati)

Gailmarie Pahmeier has been a Nevadan for 37 years. Now Emerita, she taught creative writing and contemporary literature courses at the University of Nevada, where she was honored with the Alan Bible Teaching Excellence Award and the University Distinguished Teacher Award.  She currently serves on the faculty of the low residency MFA Program at the University of Nevada, Tahoe. A Pushcart Prize nominee, her work has garnered a number of awards and has been widely published in literary journals and anthologies. She is the recipient of three Artists Fellowships from the Nevada Arts Council, including the prestigious Major Project Fellowship. She is the author of The House on Breakaheart RoadThe Rural Lives of Nice Girls, and Of BoneOf Ash, Of Ordinary Saints (WSC Press, 2020, nominated for the High Plains Book Award), in addition to three chapbooks, one of which, Shake It and It Snows, won the Coal Hill Chapbook Award from Autumn House Press. She has received the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts from the state of Nevada, has served the City of Reno as its first Poet Laureate, has been inducted into the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame, and she has been recognized by Nevada Humanities as an Outstanding Teacher in the Humanities. In September of 2021, she accepted the position of Poet Laureate, State of Nevada, a 2-year gubernatorial appointment. She lives in Reno between the river and the railroad tracks with her husband, two exuberant dogs, and a couple of complicated cats.

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