The Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission is comprised of volunteers who administer, promote, and maintain the state’s Laureate program. Commission members represent diverse populations across the state and the member organizations that support the laureateship: the Council for Wisconsin Writers; Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Letters; Wisconsin Center for the Book; Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets; Wisconsin Humanities; Wisconsin Arts Board; Write-On, Door County; and Chippewa Valley Writers Guild.
Statements of the Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission:
Black Lives Matter:
The Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission mourns the lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and the many others whose lives and talents have been lost to violence and racism--particularly those killed by law enforcement or destroyed by state-sanctioned violence and racism. We stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and with all people striving to create a more just and equitable society for this and future generations. While we acknowledge the changes required to move in this direction are vast and complex, we want to recognize and uplift the vital role the arts—including poetry—have played in every mass movement in human history. Arts open hearts and minds to new perspectives, educate in ways formal instruction is often incapable of. In our work promoting the reading and writing of poetry throughout Wisconsin, we will re-double our efforts to take an inclusive, collaborative approach beginning immediately.
Stay tuned for our initial step in this resolve: a list of relevant works by African American poets from Wisconsin and beyond whose work speaks to this moment most cogently.
The rise in angry rhetoric against immigrants, particularly immigrants of color, the policy of child separation, and the treatment of children in detention camps in the Southern Border of the United States point to a climate of xenophobia, in the United States, that is as dehumanizing as it is inhumane. Because we understand that the role of the arts involves education and because we affirm its responsible function in working for justice, with this statement, the Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission stands with immigrant communities and asserts that immigrants are vital contributors to the social fabric and promise of the United States of America.