Rozga named state poet lau­re­ate

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - - Greensheet - Jim Hig­gins

Mil­wau­kee’s Mar­garet (Peggy) Rozga is Wis­con­sin’s new poet lau­re­ate, the Wis­con­sin Poet Lau­re­ate Com­mis­sion an­nounced Mon­day.

Rozga will serve as state am­bas­sador and en­cour­ager of po­etry through 2020. She suc­ceeds Ap­ple­ton’s Karla Hus­ton, who just com­pleted her twoyear term.

In ad­di­tion to giv­ing read­ings and meet­ing peo­ple around the state, Rozga re­vealed three ini­tia­tives in a state­ment re­leased by the com­mis­sion:

❚ En­cour­ag­ing peo­ple, in­clud­ing pub­lic of­fi­cials and busi­ness and com­mu­nity lead­ers, to name and claim a fa­vorite poet or poem.

❚ En­cour­ag­ing ex­ist­ing book clubs to fo­cus at least one meet­ing a year on po­etry.

❚ Build­ing a Wis­con­sin po­etry pres­ence on Twit­ter and other social me­dia.

Rozga is a well-known lo­cal writer, ed­u­ca­tor and social jus­tice ad­vo­cate. Her books in­clude “Pes­tif­er­ous Ques­tions: A Life in Po­ems” (2017), a bi­og­ra­phy in nar­ra­tive po­ems of ac­tivist and writer Jessie Ben­ton Fré­mont. She also edited the an­thol­ogy “Where I Want to Live: Po­ems for Fair and Af­ford­able Hous­ing” (2018), an off­shoot of the 50th an­niver­sary com­mem­o­ra­tion of Mil­wau­kee’s fair hous­ing marches. (As a young ac­tivist, Rozga took part in the 1967-68 marches.)

“Both ac­tivism and cre­ative writ­ing in­volve see­ing, be­ing aware beyond the ob­vi­ous,” Rozga said in a 2013 in­ter­view pub­lished in Wis­con­sin Peo­ple & Ideas. “Both in­volve dogged de­ter­mi­na­tion to get some­thing right.”

She is an emer­i­tus pro­fes­sor of English at the Univer­sity of Wis­con­sin-Mil­wau­kee at Wauke­sha and a pro­gram com­mit­tee mem­ber of the South­east Wis­con­sin Fes­ti­val of Books.

The Wis­con­sin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Let­ters took over stew­ard­ship of the poet lau­re­ate po­si­tion in 2011 af­ter the state cut its sup­port for the pro­gram, cit­ing bud­get rea­sons. The lau­re­ate re­ceives a $2,500 an­nual stipend and ac­cepts the re­spon­si­bil­ity of ar­rang­ing or at­tend­ing lit­er­ary events each year. Rozga also will re­ceive a week­long res­i­dency at Shake Rag Al­ley Cen­ter for the Arts in Min­eral Point.

Dur­ing her re­cently con­cluded lau­re­ate­ship, Hus­ton trav­eled more than 11,000 miles, hold­ing 66 read­ings, 17 mem­ory cafes and five work­shops.

Past Wis­con­sin poets lau­re­ate in­clude Kim­berly Blaeser, Max Gar­land, Bruce Deth­lef­sen, Mar­i­lyn L. Tay­lor, Denise Sweet and Ellen Kort.

TJ LAMBERT/STAGES PHO­TOG­RA­PHY

Mar­garet (Peggy) Rozga of Mil­wau­kee will be Wis­con­sin Poet Lau­re­ate for 2019-20.

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