The Poets Laureate

The Poets Laureate
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Recently I had the most delightful lunch with the City of Madison’s Poets Laureate (Two People, one title). Our Poets Laureate are Sarah Busse and Wendy Vardaman. I guess one question that most people would have is what do the Poets Laureate do? As an arts commissioner for the City of Madison, I have a pretty good feel for what they do but here is what the City of Madison requests of the position.

  • Place poetry before the public in surprising places/spaces
  • Create conversation about poetry
  • Connect poets and groups of poets to each other and to other artists
  • Build bridges between people using poetry

I would say that is enough work for anyone to wrap their talent and time around. It should also be noted that the position is one of honor and one without honorarium. So our Poets Laureate execute their duties in the name of art and culture, for commonality, expression, and humanity. Like most artists, they create because of compulsion and the satisfaction of the presentation of their labors. This has led them down the path of publishing literary works and organizing larger reading events. This particular lunch was for the purpose of seeing how the Madison Arts Commission could further support the position and mission of the Poets Laureate. Our lunch quintet was organized by the City of Madison Arts administrator Karin Wolf and completed by the Chair of the Madison Arts Commission Barbara Schrank. Since my background is audio recording I suggested what I usually suggest, “Let’s make a record!” BAM!! There you have it! Like that, we are on and popping! (Hot grease reference because it’s ready to fry.) We are going to get the Poets Laureate and some friends that they select into the studio at Madison Media Institute to record a compilation LP. For me as a record producer and artist, the art is about collecting talents, be it voice or musician. Then what I want to do is to add a wide array of sounds to support the reads like string quartets or maybe someone playing the bucket with a pair of mallets. This is what art should be. It is the pursuit of gathering materials and arranging them like only you can. With the help of some students, I intend to bring this project to life. While we are in the planning stages of this large effort, the poets are assembling materials for a project that you can assist them with. They are currently seeking tweets that they can take and create larger works from. So if you tweet and use the hashtag #WriteYourMadison they will receive this as material for an upcoming literary project that will draw from all of the tweets that they receive. What should you tweet? Whatever, a poem, a limerick, perhaps an emotion, or maybe even a thank you. There aren’t any rules to this project, just be genuine to who you are. All material is good material, self-expression doesn’t require a degree or pedigree, and it only requires humanity. Peace, Xilla