Friends of the Milwaukee Public Library chose Susan Firer as Milwaukee’s
poet laureate for 2008-09, library director Paula Kiely said, "I
know you will be a great ambassador for the library and for
The Whitefish Bay resident is the fifth poet to hold the honorary
position. The laureate project aims to reaffirm the role of poets in
society. The assistant English professor at UW-Milwaukee and
award-winning author of five published books of poetry embarked with
passion on trips to Nebraska, Kansas, Utah, Chicago and Madison for
readings, workshops and panel discussions with other poet laureates.
Collaborative programs with musicians and artists, student groups,
book festivals and interviews followed. Recently she recorded her
poem, "Call Me Pier," for animation to be shown on public
transportation systems in six cities.
What’s most enjoyable about being poet laureate?
"It’s rewarding to share ideas about poetry, including my
own work, with new groups of readers and listeners who love poetry —
as well as with those who are not as sure about it."
Why is poetry important?
"Poetry helps us pay attention to our lives, to language and
the connection between them. Poetry also helps us pay attention to
each other and the beauty and terror of the world."
What inspired you to write poetry?
"My first poem was published in a high school literary
magazine. I was attracted to the great sounds, portability and
elasticity of poetry. Poetry seemed a site of sanity where I could
howl, celebrate, grieve and explore the sense and nonsense of the
world, language and myself."