Madison365 | February 2016 |
The unexpected can often lead to the biggest inspirations.
It isn’t every day that you hear about a poet making a change in Wisconsin, so when the opportunity to interview Madison’s first-ever Latino Poet Laureate, Oscar Mireles, presented itself, I was more than, well, ecstatic.
After talking on the phone and discussing the places, people, and platforms that inspire and continue to inspire us today, I found the sincerity and modesty of a poet, writer, father, and man who enjoys the simplicity of life and the words that help put his thoughts and emotions into perspective.
With a few questions and highly anticipated answers, the man behind works that include, “I didn’t know there were Latinos in Wisconsin: 20 Poets(1989)” and “I didn’t know there were Latinos in Wisconsin: Vol II(1999),” we got down to some of the most genuine aspects of a family oriented and loving man.
It’s safe to say that Mireles, the first Latino Poet Laureate of Madison and the executive director of the Omega School for adults seeking to complete their GED/HSED, has done a great job in proving the importance of hard work and dedication to surpass racial boundaries. His activism, self-love, and humility has truly inspired not only myself, but other members of the community and continues to inspire and open up new opportunities for future generations to come.
The Madison Arts Commission will be hosting a Poet Laureate’s Reception for Mireles this Sunday, Jan. 31, 2-4 p.m. at Centro Hispano of Dane County, 810 W. Badger Rd. The formal program begins at 3 p.m., but all are encouraged to arrive at 2 p.m. to enjoy food and music and celebrate the importance of poetry in our community.
In the meantime, here are a few questions I fired at Mireles and here are his answers:
Madison365: Let’s take it back in time, to the “King of Rock and Roll.” Tell us about the first piece you ever wrote.
Oscar Mireles: The poem “Elvis Presley was a Chicano” was the first poem I had ever conceived of. I clearly remember seeing Elvis Presley on the black and white television and thinking he was what I thought a “Latino” should look like. Elvis had the good looks, strut dance moves and charisma … he had to be a Chicano.
Madison365: Where do you get most of your ideas/inspiration?
Oscar Mireles: Most of my poems focus on identity and self-reflection. I have written pieces about my family, community issues, societal problems, and social change. I both try to get a better understanding of myself and my role in making a difference in my neighborhood, the community and the world. The GED students at Omega School are always inspiring primarily because of some of the obstacles they have overcome. The Omega School GED instructors inspire me on a daily basis with their dedication and commitment to offer all their hearts and minds to our students as they struggle to earn a GED/HSED credential.
Madison365:Do you have a favorite room or atmosphere that you like to write in?
Oscar Mireles: I like to write in the early morning where there is little distraction or interruptions. In the past, I used to handwrite everything. Then, a couple of decades ago, I went to typing things on a computer. Now, I compose poetry on my smartphone, one letter at a time while I am lying in bed.
Madison365: What is your favorite place for thinking?
Oscar Mireles: I spend lots of time driving in the car. I usually have the local public radio station on and generally listen to classical music in the background. This relaxed atmosphere gives me time to think and ponder about life, its complexity, simplicity and nuances.
Madison365:Who/what inspires you?…continue reading>>