April 7, 2021
Las Vegas, N.M. – Prolific novelist, playwright, screenwriter and poet Kayt Peck is the first poet laureate for the City of Las Vegas, New Mexico.
Las Vegas Mayor Louie Trujillo was a driving force for establishing a poet laureate in Las Vegas with Highlands University President Sam Minner joining him in supporting the initiative.
“I feel it’s very important that the community connects with the arts and the art of writing,” Trujillo said. “In this time of pandemic, we really need levity and encouragement as much as possible. I hope Ms. Peck will assist in providing that for our community. I appreciate her writing style and outgoing personality.”
Trujillo said he wants to thank Minner for the collaboration between Las Vegas and Highlands regarding the poet laureate initiative.
“We’re excited to have another partnership with the City of Las Vegas, with this one highlighting the artistic and cultural fabric of our community,” Minner said.
“I believe that language and the power of words is likely the greatest magic ever created by humanity and that core belief has dominated my life starting at a very young age,” Peck said. “Poetry to me is highly personal and the purest form of expression. I believe firmly in the culture of Las Vegas and the opportunity to express that in poetry really appealed to me. I am deeply honored to be chosen as the first Las Vegas poet laureate.”
Peck said she thinks that our society does not appreciate the importance of the arts enough.
“What I most hope to achieve as a poet laureate for Las Vegas is to inspire people to think of my poetry as a mirror to see how beautiful we are,” Peck said.
Peck has been writing steadily since she graduated from Bethany Nazarene College in Oklahoma in 1976 with a major in speech and minors in journalism and creative writing.
“In my first career as a journalist at small Texas and Oklahoma newspapers, it was newsprint that provided an outlet for my love of words. When I was a public affairs officer for the U.S. Naval Reserve, senior military officers relied upon my ability to convert complicated concepts into material that could be shared and understood,” Peck said.
Peck continued to hone her skills writing grants that improved the quality of life for people served by both domestic and international nonprofit organizations. This includes people in the American Southwest as well as women in Iraq, non-governmental organizations in Croatia, and Puerto Rico after natural disasters.
“I have successfully solicited more than $30 million for nonprofit clients,” Peck said.
Through it all, Peck said she pursued creative writing that fed her soul.
Peck has published eight novels including Folsom Boy, The Kiva and the Mosque, Good Water, The Ladies Room, Prairie Fire, The Pyramid and the Painting, and The Past and the Present. Peck’s 2020 novel, Broken, made the Amazon Best Seller list for lesbian fiction. Peck is a two-time finalist in the New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards.
Peck’s screenplay, Choke Cherry Jelly, was a platinum screenplay winner in the 2020 International Independent Film Awards.
Peck’s poetry has been published in several anthologies produced by the National Library of Poetry.
The Las Vegas poet laureate selection process involved teamwork between the City of Las Vegas and Highlands. Lauren Fath, Department of English professor, developed the application, the call for entries, the criteria and the scoring rubric for the poet laureate initiative.
Fath and Highlands community liaison Linda Anderle facilitated the city’s selection process for the poet laureate. The City of Las Vegas selection committee reviewed the applications, making a recommendation that Trujillo accepted.