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Sarah Busse and Wendy Vardaman, the City of Madison's current Poets Laureate, have defined as a vision and mission for their tenure: to integrate poetry into the fabric of civic life, ritual, and the everyday, and toward that end they will:

  • place poetry before the public in surprising places/spaces;
  • create conversation about poetry;
  • connect poets and groups of poets to each other and to other artists;
  • build bridges between people using poetry.
About Echolocations and Write Your Madison

Echolocations, Poets Map Madison is an anthology of "local poetry" set in and around different Madison locations. Many, but not all, of the poets live here or used to live in Madison. The book was edited by Madison's current Poets Laureate and Shoshauna Shy of Poetry Jumps Off the Shelf. Published by Cowfeather Press 2013, proceeds will go to the John Tuschen Memorial Poet Laureate Fund.

Echolocations is also part of Write Your Madison, a new event-based and digital project by Madison's Poets Laureate inviting collaboration and conversation through poetry about Madison. Poems will be created and collected at events and through special calls. Work will be archived at Cowfeather and through the Twitter hashtag #WriteYourMadison. Calls and event information are made through Twitter, the Cowfeather newsletter, and Cowfeather's website. We invite you to use #WriteYourMadison to publicize Madison poetry events and projects, post links to poems, post poems about Madison in video, audio or jpg form, or talk local poetry in Madison and beyond.

Madison proudly boasts that we are one of the first cities in the nation to have a Poet Laureate, reflecting our longstanding poetic tradition and deep historical investment in the literary arts. 

Mayor Paul Soglin proclaimed John Tuschen Poet Laureate in 1977 during his 1st term in office. After a 23-year reign as Madison’s colorful bard extraordinaire, Tuschen, whose health was in decline, introduced Andrea Musher to former Mayor Susan Bauman. Bauman proclaimed Andrea Madison’s second Poet Laureate in 2001. After six years in service to our City, Musher decided to pass the torch to Fabu, another Madison poet whose contributions to the community warrant the honor of this position, but not before more formally institutionalizing the Poet Laureate program.

On January 8, 2008, the Madison Common Council passed a resolution formally recognizing the Poet Laureate Program.

In 2011, the City opened nominations for the next Poet Laureate and January 16, 2012, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Mayor Soglin appointed Madison's current Poets Laureate Sarah Busse and Wendy Vardaman.

For more information about the Madison Poet Laureate Program, please contact Karin Wolf, Arts Program Administrator.