Bruce Isaacson

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Bruce Isaacson
Bruce Isaacson.jpg
Born1956 (age 64–65)
Known forPoet laureate of Clark County, Nevada

Bruce Isaacson (born 1956) is an American poet and publisher. He was appointed the first poet laureate of Clark County, Nevada, a community of more than two million people where Las Vegas is located, June 1, 2016[1][2] He initiated the Poets of National Stature series there, which includes readings by Juan Felipe Hererra, the sitting Poet Laureate of the United States[3] and Beat Legend Michael McClure.[4] Other poets Isaacson brought previously to Las Vegas include beat feminist icon Diane di Prima, San Francisco Poet Laureate Jack Hirshman and others.

Bruce Isaacson is best known in San Francisco Bay Area poetry as an organizer and poet in the Café Babar readings, an anarchistic poetry free-for all which led the poetry resurgence of the mid-1980s.[5][6][7][8][9] These readings helped inaugurate a new presentation style and aesthetic often called SF Spoken Word; the poets were called "Babarians".[10] His work is included in "The Babarians" section of Alan Kaufman and S. A. Griffin's The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry,[11] and in New American Underground Poetry, Volume 1, The Barbarians of San Francisco - Poets From Hell.[12] With David Lerner, Isaacson founded Zeitgeist Press in 1986 to publish the work of the Babarians.[13] Isaacson and Lerner were sometimes referred to as the T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound of the Babarians.[14] Zeitgeist focused on work from that genre, and a few notable Las Vegas writers, producing more than 100 titles in total.[15] Isaacson today serves as publisher and co-editor.

Bruce Isaacson was involved in poetry also in other cities. In New York City,[16][17] he was a surprise finalist in the first season of the famed Poetry Slam at the Nuyorican Poets Café.[18][19][20] In Los Angeles, Isaacson was one of the featured poets at the Poetry in Motion series at Helena’s and Largo (Hollywood) and at Tommy Tang’s in NYC. These readings mixed long-term poets with poetry performances by some of Hollywood’s actors.[21] Isaacson also lived seven months in Leningrad immediately after the opening to the West in 1992.[citation needed] He was involved in poetry activities at the Leningrad Writers Union. His poem, "Rolling into Red Square" appears in Signs of Life: Channel-surfing Through '90s Culture.[22] He has also lived in Michoacan, Mexico, moved to Las Vegas in 1995, and was active in many Las Vegas poetry communities, including readings at the Café Espresso Roma and Enigma Garden Cafe. His work appears in Literary Nevada: Writings from the Silver State.[23]


He earned degrees at Dartmouth College, Claremont McKenna, and Brookline College, where American poet Allen Ginsberg read his MFA thesis.[citation needed]


His full-length books from Zeitgeist Press[24] include Bad Dog Blues (1988),[25] Love Affairs with Barely Any People in Them (1990),[26] Ghosts Among the Neon (2005),[27] and Dumbstruck at the Lights in the Sky (2008).


  1. ^ "Clark County Poet Laureate : Bruce Isaacson". Archived from the original on 2016-04-17. Retrieved 2016-04-02.
  2. ^ Przybys, John. "Clark County poet seeks to rid art form of its bad rap". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved 2016-03-15.
  3. ^ Meurer, Ginger. "Poet Laureate explores the details of life that make readers think". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved 2016-03-31.
  4. ^ "An Evening with Michael McClure Presented by Clark County Poet Laureate Bruce Isaacson". Retrieved March 30, 2016.
  5. ^ "San Francisco Examiner". January 10, 1988. p. D9.
  6. ^ SF Chronicle, May 16, 1988, "The Bay Area is Still a Magnet for Poets", photo and quotations.
  7. ^ "Poetry San Francisco". Summer 1988.
  8. ^ Contra Costa Times, Tim Goodman (April 2, 1990). "Taking Poetic License".
  9. ^ SF Weekly "Beauty and the Beats" by Cary Tennis, July 1991, cover article featuring reviews of several Babarian poets, including Bruce Isaacson.
  10. ^ SF Weekly, Anne Powers (1990). "Street Talk: Getting Small".
  11. ^ Alan Kaufman and S. A. Griffin, eds., The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry, Thunder's Mouth Press, New York, 1999, pp. 469-470.
  12. ^ New American Underground Poetry, Volume 1, The Barbarians of San Francisco - Poets From Hell, edited by David Lerner, Julia Vinograd, and Alan Allen, Trafford Publishing, Victoria, BC, Canada, 2010, pp. 304-321.
  13. ^ "Welcome to Zeitgeist-Press!". (See "About Us"). Retrieved 2016-04-02.
  14. ^ Isaacson, Bruce; Lerner, David (1 September 1988). "Bad Dog Blues and I Want a New Gun". Small Press Traffic.
  15. ^ "Zeitgeist Press".
  16. ^ Brooklyn Review 8, Brooklyn College, Brooklyn, NY, English Department of Brooklyn College, 1991, "For Barbara".
  17. ^ Brooklyn Review 9, Brooklyn College, Brooklyn, NY, English Department of Brooklyn College, 1992, "After Doing Too Much Schoolwork" and "Feeling a Little Depressed".
  18. ^ Nuyorican Poets Cafe. "Poetry Slam". Archived from the original on 2016-03-19.
  19. ^ "NY-SF POETRY ANTHOLOGY". Retrieved 2016-04-02.
  20. ^ Drunken Angel: A Memoir by Alan Kaufman, Viva Editions (2011), p 218.
  21. ^ Interview, William Stadiem (April 1988). "Knightlife".
  22. ^ Signs of Life: Channel-surfing Through '90s Culture, ed. by Jennifer Joseph and Lisa Taplin, Manic D Press, San Francisco, 1994, pp. 96-99.
  23. ^ Literary Nevada: Writings from the Silver State by Cheryll Glotfelty, University of Nevada Press, Reno and Las Vegas, 2008, pp. 389-390.
  24. ^ On The Bus, Bombshelter Press, Los Angeles, CA, 1989, A review by John Oliver Simon including prominent reference to Isaacson’s work.
  25. ^ On The Bus, Bombshelter Press, Los Angeles, CA, 1990, a review of Bad Dog Blues.
  26. ^ Poetry Flash April 1990, Editor Joyce Jenkins, "Popping Poetry," a critical review by Richard Silberg which includes Isaacson's book and other Zeitgeist authors.
  27. ^ Logsdon, Rich (Spring 2005). "On the Importance of Ghosts: A Review of Bruce Isaacson's Ghosts Among the Neon". Red Rock Review.