Wisconsin Academy Announces the New Wisconsin Poet Laureate for 2019–2020

The Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission has selected Margaret "Peggy" Rozga of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to serve as the Wisconsin Poet Laureate for 2019–2020. The Wisconsin Poet Laureate plays a crucial role in keeping the arts accessible and vital to all age groups, and acts as a statewide emissary for poetry and creativity.

“Peggy Rozga is an exceptional poet," says Ronnie Hess, the chair of the Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission. "She is beautifully at ease describing the ordinary, essential parts of our lives—home, family, food, nature. But she is also a poet who digs deep, searching for the truth, revealing stories about the poor, the dispossessed, the forgotten.”

Speaking about her selection as Wisconsin Poet Laureate, Rozga says, "I am honored to be named as Wisconsin’s poet laureate for 2019-2020. I love the vibrant community of poetry readers and writers in Wisconsin. In the spirit and with the enthusiasm of past poets laureate, I want to continue helping this community grow. Poets who write from a deeply felt sense of what enriches our lives make these qualities palpable for all of us. I look forward to sharing and extending this love of poetry throughout Wisconsin."

Rozga will receive funding as well as marketing and other support from the Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission, which is a special program of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters. The Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission consists of poets and lovers of poetry from across the state, including member organization representatives from the Wisconsin Arts Board, Wisconsin Center for the Book, Wisconsin Humanities Council, Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets, Council for Wisconsin Writers, Chippewa Valley Writers Guild, Write On Door County, and the Wisconsin Academy. Each year as Wisconsin Poet Laureate, Rozga will receive a $2,500 stipend and week-long residency at Shake Rag Alley Center for the Arts in Mineral Point, in addition to a commemorative broadside and other recognition opportunities.

The other finalists for the 2019–2020 Wisconsin Poet Laureate position were B.J. Best (West Bend) and Estella Lauter (Fish Creek). An associate professor of English at Carroll University in Waukesha, Best is a widely-published writer and author of several poetry collections and dozens of children's/young adult books. The Door County Poet Laureate from 2013-2015 and author of four poetry chapbooks, Lauter is a professor emerita and former chair of the English Department at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. “You can imagine it wasn’t easy choosing just one from among the three finalists,” says Hess. "Wisconsin is indeed lucky to have such talented, committed poets.”

Rozga fills the position vacated by Appleton resident Karla Huston, the seventh Wisconsin Poet Laureate. During her two-year term as Wisconsin's statewide emissary for poetry and creativity, Huston travelled over 11,000 miles and held 66 readings, 17 memory cafés, and five workshops, all with a combined attendance of over 3,600. For poems by and information about past poets laureate, and appearances and future initiatives by incoming Wisconsin Poet Laureate Peggy Rozga, visit www.wisconsinpoetlaureate.org.


About Margaret Rozga

Margaret “Peggy” Rozga

Margaret “Peggy” Rozga

Life-long Wisconsin resident Margaret "Peggy" Rozga, Wisconsin Poet Laureate for 2019–2020, lives in Milwaukee. She earned her BA at Alverno College and an MA and PhD in English at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. An emeritus professor of English at the University of Wisconsin–Waukesha, she continues to teach a poetry workshop for Continuing Education at what is now the UWM–Waukesha campus.

Rozga’s poems draw on her experiences and interests as an educator, avid reader and researcher, parent, and advocate for social and racial justice. Her first book, 200 Nights and One Day (Benu Press 2009), was awarded a bronze medal in poetry in the 2009 Independent Publishers Book Awards and named an outstanding achievement in poetry for 2009 by the Wisconsin Library Association.

Rozga has published three additional collections of poems:

  • Though I Haven’t Been to Baghdad (Benu Press 2012), named an outstanding achievement in poetry for 2012 by the Wisconsin Library Association;

  • Justice Freedom Herbs (Word Tech Press 2015);

  • Pestiferous Questions: A Life in Poems (Lit Fest Press 2017). Research for Pestiferous Questions was supported by a creative writer’s fellowship at the American Antiquarian Society.

Rozga has also been a resident at the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology and at the Ragdale Foundation.Her work was nominated for inclusion in the 2005 Best New Poets anthology and for a Pushcart Prize.

Rozga served as an editor for three poetry chapbook anthology projects, most recently Where I Want to Live: Poems for Fair and Affordable Housing (Little Bird Press 2018), a project of the 50th anniversary commemoration of Milwaukee’s fair housing marches. Her poetry craft essays have appeared in the Whale Road Review, the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets Museletter and other venues. Her poems have been included in eight collaborative exhibits with visual artists and other poets.

Rozga reviews poetry books and has served as a judge for poetry and writing contests in Wisconsin and nationally. She serves on the program committee for the Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books. She especially enjoys offering poetry workshops for middle and high school students.