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Off-Duty Elvis: A Reading by Las Vegas Poets with Tolsun Books

Date(s): Friday, February 22, 2019, 5:30 p.m.
Piper Writers House, 450 E Tyler Mall, Tempe, AZ 85281
Genre and Form(s): Poetry
Cost: Free

About this Event

When you think of Las Vegas, your mind might not immediately land on poetry. However, the neon city brims with literary talent. Join authors from Tolsun Books and other presses for "Off Duty Elvis," a reading by Las Vegas poets on Friday, February 23, 2019 at 5:30 p.m. Featuring Jennifer Battisti, Heather Lang Cassera, and Elizabeth Quiñones-Zaldaña.

In Las Vegas native Jennifer Battisti's Echo Bay, for example, which is often set in the less-glamorous corners and lesser-known outskirts of iconic Las Vegas, her poetry defines an honest reality of motherhood and daughterhood contrasting their predefined definitions. Music from the late twentieth century plays in the background, desert heat radiates from the pages, and at any given moment an off-duty Elvis waits for his flight.

Meanwhile, through the work of Heather Lang Cassera, interior and exterior landscapes blur, thoughts remain silent above terracotta roofs italicized amongst bone-white clouds, and emotions refract through objects ranging from the everyday to those you might find on the iconic Las Vegas strip.

While encouraged, RSVPs are purely for the purposes of monitoring attendance, gauging interest, and communicating information about parking, directions, and other aspects of the event. You do not have to register or RSVP to attend this event. This event is open to the public and free.

About the Readers

Jennifer Battisti, a Las Vegas native, studies creative writing at Nevada State College. In 2019 she was named Las Vegas' Best Local Writer. Her work has been anthologized in Legs of Tumbleweed, Wings of Lace, Where We Live, an anthology of writing and art in response to the October 1st tragedy and is forthcoming in The Good Fight. Her worked has also appeared in The Desert Companion, Minerva Rising, The Citron Review, FLARE, Helen: A Literary magazine,The Red Rock Review, 300 Days of Summer and elsewhere. She is a contributing writer for Las Vegas Woman magazine. In 2016 Nevada Public Radio interviewed her about her poetry. She is the coordinator and a participating Teaching Artist for the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project in Clark County and was the recipient of the Helen Stewart Poetry Prize for 2018. Her first chapbook, Echo Bay was released in 2018 (Tolsun Books).

Heather Lang Cassera holds an MFA in Poetry with a Certificate in Literary Translation. In 2017 she was named Las Vegas' Best Local Writer or Poet by the readers of KNPR’s Desert Companion. Her poems have been published by or are forthcoming with The Normal School, North American Review, Pleiades, South Dakota Review, and other literary journals, and have been on exhibit in the Nevada Humanities Program Gallery. Heather curated Legs of Tumbleweeds, Wings of Lace, an anthology of literature by Nevada women, funded by the Nevada Arts Council and National Endowment for the Arts. She serves as World Literature Editor and book reviewer for The Literary Review, Faculty Advisor for 300 Days of Sun, and Co-Publisher for Tolsun Books. At Nevada State College, Heather teaches Composition, Professional Writing, World Literature, and more. 

Elizabeth Quiñones-Zaldaña earned a B.A. in English from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her poetry has been published in From Snowcaps to Desert Flats: An Anthology of Latino Writers in Nevada; Legs of Tumbleweeds, Wings of Lace: An Anthology of Literature by Nevada Women; Clark: Poetry from Clark County, Nevada; and 300 Days of Sun. Her poetry has also been featured in visual art exhibits through the Nevada Humanities Program Gallery and the Las Vegas Chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts. Elizabeth has served as a judge for the Nevada Arts Council's 2017 youth Poetry Out Loud Recitation Competition, as a panelist for the Las Vegas Book Festival's 2018 "Heart of Poetry: Nevada Voices," and as a poet-educator through other Nevada Humanities educational programs. She lives in southern Nevada with her husband and three children.

About the Literary Fair

Presented in partnership with ASU Open Door as a public extension of the Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference, the Desert Nights, Rising Stars Literary Fair features two days of talks, readings, and other literary events and activities from authors, publishers, and other organizations from all over the Southwest, February 22 - 23, 2019 at Arizona State University, Tempe Campus. All events are open to the public and free. You do not need to register for the conference in order to attend. To learn more about the fair, visit our website at

About the Author

Picture of a jackalope

Tolsun Books, LLC is a small press based out of Tolleson, Arizona and Las Vegas, Nevada. Tolsun Books believes in the cosmic power of strong relationships with authors, artists, partners, and the community. They make daring, energetic books that use separate parts to construct a whole: poetry, short stories, comics poetry, hybrids, photo stories, flash memoir. At Tolsun, the importance of aesthetic and design is paramount: A Tolsun Book will look beautiful on a bookshelf, coffee table, or nightstand. Go ahead, judge our books by their covers!

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