Madeleine Bohn is Madison's first Youth Poet Laureate, and tonight she will share her poem "Teakettle" at the 6:30 PM meeting of the Common Council.

The City of Madison, the Madison Arts Commission, and Madison Poet Laureate Angela Trudell Vasquez will present the inaugural reading of Madison's first ever Youth Poet Laureate, Madeleine Bohn, tonight, September 6th, at the meeting of the Common Council. The meeting begins at 6:30 PM and Madeleine's poetry recitation is the first agenda item. 

Watch the meeting here:

This is the inaugural year of the Madison Youth Poet Laureate program, which was celebrated at a ceremony on July 13, 2022 at the Madison Central Library. The applicants in attendance read some of their poetry, after which Trudell Vasquez announced the selection of Madeleine Bohn as the first ever Madison Youth Poet Laureate.

Teen Services Librarian Rachel Lavender stated “Every applicant is vastly talented, and it was an honor to be able to hear them read their original work. It takes a lot of courage to read your own work in public, and they all faced the challenge with confidence and bravery.”

Inaugural Madison Youth Poet Laureate Madeleine Bohn, aged 14, will enter the 9th grade at West High School in the fall. “Being the very first person to step into this role is such a tremendous honor, and I am so grateful to have been selected,” Bohn expressed. Brought up on the writings of Dr. Seuss and Eric Carle, and she shared how “like most kids, I always had exotic stories swirling around in my head. Perhaps the difference is that for me, those stories never went away. Instead, they grew more complex and were joined by rhymes and considerations for syllable length.”

Bohn has never shared her work with the public, but is excited for this opportunity. “One of the beautiful things about poetry is that it isn’t inherently politically charged and doesn’t hold negative connotations. So much of our world today is so polarized, but poetry, for the most part, remains this incredible art that holds such potent power.”

“With this position, I hope to inspire young people across the city to find their voices, to use them to pioneer a path of change…There have been so many people before me who have carried enough stones for entire mountains to be moved. Moving stones, or even mountains, is a necessary task, but that alone only leaves a patch of open ground. My goal, instead, is to plant seeds in these empty patches,” stated Bohn.

The Madison Youth Poet Laureate program is a partnership between the City of Madison and the National Youth Poet Laureate program, an initiative of Urban Word. The National Youth Poet Laureate program honors talented poets from ages of thirteen (13) through nineteen (19) and provides for competitive opportunities for young people to showcase their literary art on the regional and national stage.

Current Madison Poet Laureate, Angela Trudell Vasquez, included establishing this position in her initial proposal to the city. She says, “This has been a long dream of mine, to bring a Youth Poet Laureate position to the youth of Madison. I look forward to Madeleine’s one-year term.”

Over the course of her year of service as the Madison Youth Poet Laureate, Madeleine will give three public readings alongside current Madison Poet Laureate, Angela Trudell Vasquez.  Additionally, she will have the opportunity to publish her poems in the National Youth Poet Laureate annual anthology, and apply for the National Youth Poet Laureate role in the fall.

Madison Arts Commission and previous Poet Laureate Fabu stated, “The Madison Arts Commission supports both art and artists in Madison. We are especially proud to support youth poets in this Youth Madison Poet Laureate competition. The Commission congratulates City of Madison Poet Laureate, Angela Trudell Vasquez and the 2022 City of Madison Youth Poet Laureate Madeleine Bohn.”

About the National Youth Poet Laureate Program
The National Youth Poet Laureate Program works with local arts organization across the United States to elevate youth voices that are committed to artistic excellence, civic engagement and social impact. The National Youth Poet Laureate Program is supported by the academy of American Poets, Poetry Society of America, the Library of Congress, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Parks Service, and many more, and is an initiative of Urban Word NYC, Inc., an award-winning youth literary arts and youth development organization.

About the Madison Arts Commission
The Madison Arts Commission’s (MAC) is an 11-member citizen commission appointed by the Mayor to advise the City about matters of arts and culture. MAC’s mission is to foster arts appreciation by initiating partnerships, developing new audiences, and sponsoring diverse artistic activities by emerging and established artists and arts organizations while preserving Madison’s rich artistic tradition. To support a full creative life for all, The Madison Arts Commission commits to championing policies and practices of cultural equity that empower a just, inclusive, equitable city.