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Angela Trudell Vasquez, Madison’s First Latina Poet Laureate, Strives to be “Poet for the People”


Angela Trudell Vasquez has been working toward becoming a poet laureate since her 20s, a goal that recently accomplished when she was named Madison’s newest poet laureate this past January.

Trudell Vasquez, who goes by Angie, is the City’s seventh poet laureate and first Latina woman to hold the position. 

“It feels amazing,” she said. “I tell people that we’re the sum of our literary ancestors and it feels like I am standing on their hard work and sacrifices. They did a lot of me to be here.”

Trudell Vasquez first served on the Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission since spring of 2017, but has been in the Madison and Milwaukee area since 2005 observing poet laureates in the state. She then decided to self-nominate with “an ambitious proposal,” and was selected last December.

“It’s been a great reception by the community and people have been really kind,” she said.

Not only is Trudell Vasquez a poet, she is also a writer, activist and has a full-time job as operations manager at End Domestic Abuse WI. Trudell Vasquez has already started rolling out projects, including preparing for the upcoming national poetry celebration on April 4th at the Madison Public Library. Additionally, she is working with multiple organizations citywide to boost the presence of poems in different communities.

Trudell Vasquez fell into creative writing when she was seven years old, and has been writing since then.

“My parents would read ‘Frederick,’ the story about a mouse who seemed lazy but was able to warm his friends in the winter through poetry,” she said. “I’ve always been into literature since my parents read to me, but it was that particular story that made me want to be a writer. I still have everything I’ve written since I was seven and I’m 52 now.”

As the new poet laureate, she is doing exactly what she wants to do and is able to make money through the work she does, she said.

Trudell Vasquez had her first public reading as the poet laureate in February at A Room of One’s Own bookstore, as well as a public reception at the Madison public library. In terms of upcoming projects, she is working on a team to add more poems to public busses through an annual poetry submission. She is also working on enacting a youth poet laureate, scheduled to begin in April 2021.

“I really think poetry is healing and can help us understand ourselves,” she said. “I see the value of poetry and art in making us better people and I encourage people to be open to poetry. I am the poet for the Madison people and all my public events will be free because I want to be a welcoming source for the community.”