Angela Trudell Vasquez has been named the City of Madison’s newest poet laureate. Last night, the Madison Common Council voted to appoint her to become the city’s first Latina to ever hold the position.
“This is a huge honor for me. I began writing at the age of 7 years old. This is my dream come true,” Vasquez tells Madison365. “I did not get here alone. I have had so much help and encouragement along the way.
“I have a gift that I have worked very hard on for many, many years … to develop my craft and hone my work,” she adds. “I want to do the same for others. I want to mentor young poets, poets of all ages really. I want to encourage people to write and tell their own stories, to write their own narratives.”
The poet, writer, performer, and activist, is a second- and third-generation Mexican-American and the author of the poetry chapbook “In Light, Always Light.” Her poems have appeared in Taos Journal of Poetry, Yellow Medicine Review, RavenChronicles, The Rumpus, Return to the Gathering Place of the Waters, and Cloudthroat.
Vasquez earned her bachelor’s degree from Drake University, where she was awarded a Ruth Lilly fellowship. She went on to earn a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in creative writing in poetry from the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA). Vasquez will take over poet laureate duties from Oscar Mireles.
“I have had a long history of working with Angela Trudel Vasquez,” Mireles tells Madison365. “She was one of the Latina poets featured in the third anthology of [my book] ‘I Didn’t Know There Were Latinos In Wisconsin: Three Decades of Hispanic Writing.’
“Angela has also been involved in many poet laureate activities, including reading a poem in front of the Madison City Council and in a poetry series at Cafe Coda,” he adds.
Back in January of 2016, Madison Mayor Paul Soglin announced that Mireles would become the city’s first Latino poet laureate. Mireles served two two-year terms.
“As my four-year term ends as poet laureate, I am reflecting on the wonderful time I had working with schools, giving readings and promoting the bus lines poetry project. I also had a chance to work at the Madison Public Library’s “Bubbler Project” as part of their Cabin Fever writing series,” Mireles says. “Many friends have commented that they have seen my poetry on the Monroe Street sidewalks and sidewalks on the east side.”
Even though his time as poet laureate has ended, Mireles will be serving as the poetry contest judge for the Wisconsin Academy of Arts and Science 2020 Literary Contests, giving a workshop at the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poetry (WFOP) upcoming conference and continuing to serve as co-host of Art Party-Madison.
“I am excited to see Angela build on the foundation that former Poet Laureates John Tuschen, Andrea Musher, Poet Fabu, Sarah Busse and Wendy Vardaman have instituted, including the Madison City Council Readings, Madison Metro Bus Lines poetry, National Poetry Month events with the Wisconsin Poet Laureate at the Madison Public Library, the sidewalk poetry project,” Mireles says.
Vasquez will officially be sworn in on Monday, Jan. 20. Her first official public reading will take place on Thursday, Feb. 6, 6 p.m. at A Room of One’s Own.