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.
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
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.
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
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