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Mildred Matthews Breedlove

At a glance:

Born: unknown 
Died: unknown 
Maiden name: Matthews 
Race/nationality/ethnic background: Caucasian 
Married: yes 
Children: four (two daughters, two sons) 
Primary city and county of residence and work: Las Vegas (Clark) 
Major fields of work: literature (author, poet)
Other role identities: wife, mother 

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Biography:

Little is known about the personal life of Mildred Breedlove, who at one time was Nevada's Poet Laureate. From newspaper clippings, it appears that she was married and had at least two daughters and two sons, as well as several brothers and sisters. 

In 1959 Mildred published a book of poems called Those Desert Hills. In an interview for The Las Vegas Review-Journal, she said, "Ideas are always there as snowflakes. If these ideas were as snowflakes in a snowstorm, I'd try to decide which of the snowflakes I would analyze and photograph." 

Mildred appeared briefly in the public eye in the early 1960s when Governor Grant Sawyer commissioned her to write a poem about Nevada for the State Centennial in 1964. Mildred spent three years traveling around the state to research the information that went into her poem, Nevada. The poem was bound and published; each copy had an original watercolor illustrated by artist Lucile Bruner. As a result of her work, Breedlove was nominated for a Nobel Prize for literature and received the "Narrative Poet Laureate of Nevada" award from the United Poets Laureate International Society. The award was presented in Las Vegas by Dr. Amado M. Yuzon, founder and president of the international organization. On behalf of the President of the Philippines, she was presented with a gold medallion and gold laurel wreath as symbols of her international recognition for excellence in poetry. 

In spite of the recognition she received, she resigned her position as Poet Laureate of Nevada following a controversy with state officials, including Governors Sawyer and Paul Laxalt. It is unknown at this time whether the conflict was ever resolved or whether Mildred left the state of Nevada, as she threatened in letters written to a Mrs. Wengert in Las Vegas: 

Feb. 20, 1968  

Dear Mrs. Wengert:  

....you are right about my love for Nevada. You will be interested to learn that, on being invited to make a five-minute tape for the Washoe Public Library, I prefaced my talk with, "Because I loved Nevada so much, I invested most of what my husband left me in a large, isolated ranch..." It is still true that I consider the valley (in which the ranch is located) one of the loveliest places in the world, but I am so bitter that my very soul suffered corrosion.  

AND NOT WITHOUT CAUSE!!!  

There are simply dozens of instances of major importance, in which I suffered unbelievable injustice...  

I had considered vacating the post of Poet Laureate for more than three years, but was dissuaded from the course by friends whose opinion I valued....  

I knew Nevada was being suppressed as early as mid-June of 1963. But, when I charged this, friends scoffed....But the suppressing forces underestimated both the work and me. I do not crush easily. My backbone is made of forged steel, and I spit at tigers.  

It was my very great good fortune to learn of Dr. Amado M. Yuzon and the world organization he founded. Once he was in possession of a copy of my two books, complete suppression was impossible. But, here at home, the job was very thorough. Mrs. McKay refused to handle either of my books. Every attempt to make major use of Nevada was killed....  

I tried, for two and one-half months, to place the manuscript in the Governor's hand. My friends were absolutely determined that he should accept it in manuscript and put great pressure on Sawyer to do this. Only, when it became apparent that he did not intend to accept it, did I arrange for publication --- FOR THE SOLE PURPOSE OF PROTECTING MY COPYRIGHT.  

Nevada was written at the official request of the Governor, and I did it in my official capacity as Poet Laureate. Under these circumstances, the State of Nevada is obligated to put out an edition. It cannot escape this obligation. It will remain until resolved.... (Editor's note: Mildred recounts numerous tries to gain public recognition for her work which were thwarted.)  

I became so bitter I felt I could not continue to reside in Nevada. I could not speak of it without weeping for two years. But I was destitute. One cannot pick up and leave under the circumstances in which I found myself....  

The Bible says, "Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord." This may well be a fulfillment, when I tell you I was nominated for the Nobel Award by a man from Spain....  

...unless the State takes some action to reinstate me, secure school use of Nevada or otherwise recognizes its obligation to me, I shall leave the State in June, taking with me all papers and possessions. Even at this point, my papers are almost priceless. 4 scrapbooks as thick as my arm; medals, my gold laurel leaves, dozens of Awards, Citations, Commendations, souvenirs, programs, news clippings, etc. I had fully intended to leave these to the Las Vegas Public Library...  

Again, thank you for your kind letter and thank you for listening.  

Very Sincerely, 

MILDRED BREEDLOVE 

Biographical sketch Victoria Ford

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Published Works: 

Breedlove, Mildred. Those Desert Hills. Los Angeles: (publisher unknown), 1959. 

Breedlove, Mildred. Nevada: A poem commemorating Nevada's 100th Anniversary as a state. Los Angeles: Duroset, 1963. 

Breedlove, Mildred. A Study of rhyme & rhythm in creative expression. Los Angeles: Veque House, 1959. 

Sources of Information:

Biographical file, Special Collections University of Nevada, Las Vegas Library. 

Las Vegas Review-Journal, April 18, 1965 & July 5, 1965.

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