Gailmarie Pahmeier obtained her BA in creative writing from Southern Illinois University and her MFA in poetry from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville in 1983. She was Visiting Poet in the Poetry-in-the-Schools Program for the State of Arkansas from 1979-1983 and served as Poetry Editor for Nimrod from 1983-1984. After moving to Reno in 1984, she worked part time at Truckee Meadows Community College and as the Arts in Education Coordinator for Sierra Arts Foundation. In 1985, she became a lecturer in the English Department at the University of Nevada, Reno, where she continues to teach creative writing, poetry, women’s literature, contemporary literature, and literature of work and class. While at UNR, she has received the Alan Bible Teaching Excellence Award (1994) and the University Distinguished Teacher Award (1995). She has been nominated twice for the Regents Teaching Award. She has been Visiting Writer and Poet in Residence in Alaska, New York, and Wisconsin, as well as in California, Nevada and Utah.
A forever baseball fan, she served as President of the Sport Literature Association in 1993. She has served as the TumbleWords Poet for the Nevada Arts Council since 1994 and has been a judge for the Poetry Out Loud competition at the county and state finals levels in Nevada. The recipient of two Artists Fellowships from the Nevada Arts Council, she served as the first Poet in Residence for the Power Up Poetry program, from 2012-2013, promoting poetry throughout rural Nevada. She has given readings during the Nevada Humanities Literary Crawl in downtown Reno, which launched in the summer of 2014.
Since 2012, she has taught at Sierra Nevada College for its MFA Program in Creative Writing. She has also participated in its “Writers in the Woods” program hosted by its Poetry Center and has been on the Center’s Advisory Board since 2013. From 2008-2014 she served as a National Literary Panelist for the YoungArts Program sponsored by the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts.
Among her many honors, she received the Silver Pen Award from the Friends of the University Library in 1999. In 2007, she received the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts. In 2009 she received the Coal Hill Review Chapbook Prize for Shake It and It Snows. She has also received the 2012 Publisher’s Award and the Editor’s Choice Award for her poems, along with the Chambers Memorial Award in Poetry in 1996, and a Witter Bynner Foundation Poetry Fellowship in 1997.
In January 2015, she became Reno’s first Poet Laureate, a position established by the Reno City Council. One project she developed in that role was the Reno Community Poem Project, in which the entire community was encouraged to participate. Characterizing herself as a teaching poet, she noted in a 2015 interview, “Everyone has a voice and a right to express it.”