First Latina Poet Laureate of Madison

Thursday night I was fortunate enough to attend a reading by Angela Trudell Vasquez, Madison’s new poet laureate. She read from In Light, Always Light. Her poems are elegant and sparse. Word-by-word they lodge themselves in our hearts. Angie is an engaging speaker who builds rapport with her audience through personal anecdotes, a warm presence and her ear-catching writing.

Angela Trudell Vasquez reading her work at Room of One’s Own Feminist Bookstore in Madison, WI   Photo: Rebecca Cuningham

Ms. Trudell Vasquez and her parents were born in Iowa. Previous generations came from Mexico to work on the railroads. She is a proud Latina and weaves her family’s history into her poems. The title poem of her 2019 collection follows:

In Light, Always Light

Glass strands gleam weave, undulate from the window

The vendor screams build the wall
lifts his hands works the crowd
looks at me         sells more t-shirts.

My mind waxes. Brilliant wet glass winks, waves shine back
my reflection.

I am dazzled by the sun glinting off my cat’s whiskers. He lays
on his back, flanks splayed by the deck     half-shade, half-light.

First graders play football on marigold carpet in our shared back yard.
The smile on their faces when they catch it warms us –-
childless apartment dwellers behind glass walls.

The poet reads a book a poems then walks to the park to think.
She does not know what she is going to do           hike
the sled hill or swing on the swing. If no children are present
she will swing until her stomach says no, then descend
from her height among the tree tops and head home.
She circles the preserve full of earth thoughts: falling leaf
music, crashing, crushing sounds and auburn smells
float up from her footsteps.

She thinks.

We spin on Earth’s axis                  half-blinks of history.

The Madison Poet Laureate has a term of two to four years. A few of Angela Trudell Vasquez’ responsibilities include reading poems to begin Common Council meetings, heading National Poetry Month in April, and choosing the winners of the Madison Metro Bus Lines Poetry Project. She will host free poetry workshops at the public library for children and adults. As Trudell Vasquez said in her recent Isthmus interview, “To me, poetry is accessible to anybody. We can break down barriers with poetry, and create empathy and understanding and healing.” I look forward to seeing the transformation Angie brings to Madison with her enthusiasm for the spoken and written word.

Gracias for reading Fake Flamenco! ¡Olé! –Rebecca

Six word Saturday is online worldwide, check it out!


Rebecca Cuningham

5 thoughts on “First Latina Poet Laureate of Madison

  1. A great post Rebecca! I think it is phenomenal that you are bringing these items of very important news to the public eye. The poem was quite lovely, sensitive but strong and vivid with imagery that one can easily see and relate to. I am very proud that a woman of Hispanic descent has reached such an honor.
    Thank you Rebecca for such lovely posts with such interesting and informative topics.
    Greetings and all the best,

    Liked by 1 person

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