During her time as Wisconsin’s Poet Laureate, UW-Green Bay Prof. Denise Sweet has crisscrossed the state, bringing the joys of poetry, reading and literacy to young and old, alike.
“Being poet laureate has put many miles on my car,” says Sweet, who is approaching the end of her four-year appointment by the governor. “But it’s been a journey that has been circular.”
Sweet will cherish the memories made along the way. Many traveled for miles to have poetry brought into their lives. When she read, some have laughed and some have wept.
“The point of it is to share the love that you have for the musicality of words,” Sweet said. “I hope that the lasting legacy was that I was enthusiastic about poetry; that I had fun reading poetry.”
Sweet’s appointment is scheduled to end by the end of this year. She plans to continue reading, writing and teaching poetry and other humanistic studies at UW-Green Bay.
The Poetry of Prof. Denise Sweet
Wisconsin’s Outgoing Poet Laureate
(I wrote this poem entitled “Zen, and Women’s ways of parking”…)
Prof. Denise Sweet
I think that poetry is the tool by which we have an opportunity to speak our minds in a very beautiful, persuasive and musical way.
Being appointed Wisconsin’s Poet Laureate afforded me a number of different experiences.
I was able to share my love for poetry to all manner of audiences, from tiny children at a daycare center, to seniors at a library. So, being poet laureate has put many miles on my car. But it’s been a journey that has been circular.
I left Green Bay in November of 2004 to accept the post as poet laureate. And I come back to Green Bay and now I’m working on a poem entitled “Green Bay, I want to talk about you.”
When you become a poet laureate for a state, it is an honorary appointment and at the governor’s behest, you may be asked to write a poem, to appear at an event, to lobby for the arts, or to dedicate a site and read a poem.
(Scrolling text on screen: The poet laureate’s mission is an important and lofty one—to promote poetry statewide, to serve as a herald for Wisconsin’s poets and their verse, and to enrich the lives of Wisconsin’s citizens by sharing and encouraging the gift of poetry.)
During my tenure as poet laureate, I was able to do a lot of traveling. I became not only a bit of an evangelist for poetry, but I also talked to people about literacy and reading to children, reading to seniors the beautiful poems that we have as a part of our American literary tradition.
The point of it is to share a love that you have for the musicality of words. And I hope that the lasting legacy was that I was enthusiastic about poetry; that I had fun reading poetry; that I made people laugh and occasionally people wept. But it was something that we enjoyed together.
I would recommend to the next poet laureate, engage your audience as much as you can, and they won’t let you down. Let them clap. Let them respond. Let them sing with you, because at this point in time, people want their voices to be heard.