Angela Trudell Vasquez began serving a second two-year term as Madison Poet Laureate January 1-. Madison’s Common Council approved her reappointment on December 7, 2021 at the recommendation of Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway and the Madison Arts Commission. Ms. Trudell Vasquez will continue to hold the volunteer position from January 17, 2022 until January 14, 2024.

Newly appointed when the pandemic hit, Ms. Trudell Vasquez seamlessly continued the work of being the poet laureate online and virtually, including some in person appearances in 2020 and 2021. Ms. Trudell Vasquez’s work with the community included providing free poetry readings, crafts talks and poetry lectures, judging poetry competitions always including youth voices, providing workshops to youth and educators, and speaking to college students and faculty at Madison College, Edgewood College, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She continued to run the Bus Line Poetry Project in partnership with Metro Transit and Edgewood College.

During her first term, she continued to write new work and publish in print and online. Her latest collection of poetry, My People Redux, will be published in January 2022 from Finishing Line Press. She will tour through 2022 and 2023. Through her small press Art Night Books, Ms. Trudell Vasquez co-edited and published, Through This Door, an anthology of former and current poets laureate and community poets with Margaret Rozga, who was the Wisconsin poet laureate at the time. Through This Door came out in late 2020 and garnered lots of press, praise, and a few radio spots on NPR and WPR.

In the summer of 2021, Ms. Trudell Vasquez, attended the renowned Macondo Writer’s Workshop established by writer Sandra Cisneros, and studied with Allison Adelle Hedge Coke. She is now a Macondo fellow, commonly known as a Macondista. She also became the Chair of the Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission in June 2021, the body who selects the state poet laureate. Ms. Trudell Vasquez along with other poets received a 2021 Creative Community Champion Award from Arts Wisconsin and the League of Wisconsin Municipalities.

During her initial term, Ms. Trudell Vasquez  continued to promote her vision of establishing a youth poet laureate program for the city of Madison and its youth, and garner community support. Madison’s Common Council approved establishing a Madison Youth Poet Laureate Program on December 7, 2021. The City anticipates announcing the first Youth Poet Laureate in the Spring of 2022, so the youth poet may apply in the Fall of 2022 to be the National Youth Poet Laureate.

Ms. Trudell Vasquez has been working with Madison’s Public Library and librarians throughout the city to make copies of her poem, “Tree Friends,” available in Spanish and English. The poem will be available in a poetry maker’s kit for all to pick up at local libraries this month. Building off these poetry activity kits, free poetry workshops will be offered throughout the system geared to youth, adults and families in Spring of 2022 at local libraries.

When asked how she felt about what she has been able to accomplish during her first term, Ms. Trudell Vasquez, said, “When I started my term in person and had to pivot to offering virtual programming I adapted quickly because I saw the need for poetry and beauty in people’s lives. The poem I wrote at the bequest of the Mayor to honor those we have lost in the pandemic has had a life of its own and been published nationally now, and I see how it affects people because they write me or come up to me with tears in their eyes and say thank you. Being able to connect to people through my poems is everything. I am looking forward to mentoring young poets in 2022 and naming the first Youth Poet Laureate with the Madison Art Commission. No matter what good people continue the work that is our life in this moment and we need art in our lives. We must use our gifts to make the world a better place for all.”

 

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