Las Vegas’ literary arts community is on the verge of locking down. All the pieces are in place. The Beverly Rogers, Carol C. Harter Black Mountain Institute (BMI), a nonprofit literary hub, supports writer-in-residence programs, runs Vegas’ City of Asylum international author refuge program and produces The Believer magazine and festival. We have a one-of-a-kind bookstore, the Writer’s Block; the popular Las Vegas Book Festival; a well-used network of libraries; and a population of poets, essayists and authors numerous and active enough to have earned itself a local monument, the Poets Bridge, in Downtown’s Lewis Avenue Corridor.
The Poets’ Bridge is a short walk from what’s destined to become the new heart of literary Vegas: a three-story complex of condominiums and retail space at the corner of Sixth Street and Bonneville Avenue. Called the Lucy—from lux, Latin for light—it will be the new home to an expanded Writer’s Block, whose Fremont Street storefront closed this week, and to a rotating cast of visiting creators-in-residence: two literary fellows sponsored by BMI, and a visual artist whose loft is co-sponsored by arts organizer Patrick Duffy and the Nevada School of the Arts.
And it’s probably no surprise that it’s Beverly Rogers and her namesake foundation who are footing the bill for this “creative community space.” “I don’t know that the arts community here will ever be what it is in New York,” Rogers says, “but my goal, since I moved here when I was 12 years old, has been to raise the cultural barometer of this town—so that when I travel someplace, I don’t have to be ashamed.”
We chuckle at that one: It’s funny because it’s true. But the Lucy is no joke. Rogers, with the help of Writers Block proprietors Scott Seeley and Drew Cohen, BMI director and Believer editor Joshua Wolf Shenk and others, is not trying to a make a sealed commune, but an artistic engine that will be fueled by its community. Perhaps as soon as early December, you’ll be able to visit a Writer’s Block that offers coffee and pastries and stocks nearly four times the number of books it does now, while retaining its charming “bird sanctuary” theme. Here, you’ll meet artists and authors who are living, working and collaborating on-property, and join them for art and literary events held in a dedicated indoor events space or out in the parking area, which is handsome two-toned concrete and ready-wired for sound and video.
For anyone who loves the arts, the Lucy is a gift box. Even Shenk, a member of the Lucy’s creative team, seems amazed that it’s real. “So much of BMI’s work is based on stimulating community and connection,” he says. “This is a grand new adventure in our relationship with the Rogers Foundation and the Writer’s Block.” And it’s a new adventure for Vegas, too, which has crossed many a Poets Bridge to get here.