Undocumented: Great Lakes Poets Laureate on Social Justice focuses on contemporary issues, this text showcases a large collection of regional poets laureate writing on subjects critical to understanding social justice as it relates to the Great Lakes region. Undocumented includes writing by seventy-eight poets who truly represent the diversity of the Great Lakes region, including Rita Dove, Marvin Bell, Crystal Valentine, Kimberly Blaeser, Mary Weems, Karen Kovacik, Wendy Vardaman, Zora Howard, Carla Christopher, Meredith Holmes, Karla Huston, Joyce Sutphen, and Laren McClung, among others. City, state, and national poets laureate with ties to Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Ontario, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin appear in these pages, organized around themes from the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Ten Ways to Fight Hate: A Community Response Guide,” calling on readers to act on behalf of victims of social injustice.
Oscar Mireles is a published poet and editor. Mireles’ poetry has been published in over 50 different publications. Oscar has been writing poetry for the past 35 years. Mireles is the editor of three anthologies titled ‘I Didn’t Know There Were Latinos in Wisconsin: 20 Hispanic Poets and ‘I Didn’t Know There Were Latinos in Wisconsin: 30 Hispanic Writers’ and I Didn’t Know There Were Latinos in Wisconsin: 3 Decades of Hispanic Writing. He also produced a chapbook titled ‘Second Generation’. Mr. Mireles was selected as the 6th Poet Laureate of the City of Madison for the years 2016-17. Mireles has been the Executive Director of Omega School for the past 22 years. Omega School provides adult basic education services (GED Preparation) in Dane County. During his tenure, Mr. Mireles has assisted over 3000 young adults with securing a GED/HSED credential.
Denise Sweet is faculty emerita, having taught Humanistic Studies, Creative Writing, and First Nations Studies for the UW-System. She has performed in theater and film productions (both a full-length feature and various documentaries), and has given over 100 readings in North and Central America, Canada and Europe. Her books of poetry include Know By Heart (Rhiannon Press), Songs For Discharming (Greenfield Press), Days Of Obsidian, Days Of Grace (Poetry Harbor), and Nitaawichige (Poetry Harbor; the latter a four-author collection). In 1998, Songs For Discharging won both the WI Posner Award for Poetry, and the Diane Decorah Award, given by the North American Indigenous Writers Circle of the Americas Her most recent book of new and selected poems, Palominos Near Tuba City (Holy Cow! Press) was released in April 2018.
Other distinctions: her poem, “Veteran’s Dance: After Oklahoma City” took second place in Sante Fe Indian Market’s 1st annual Poetry Competition. In 2006, the International Crane Foundation commissioned Sweet to author a poem for the organization, eventually titled, “All The Animals Came Singing.” Additionally, her poem, “Constellations” is part of a permanent etched installation at the Midwest Express Center in Milwaukee, WI. In 1998, Sweet was one of five North American tribal writers sponsored by the U.S. Embassy to attend the 1st Annual World Congress on Indigenous Literature of the Americas held in Guatemala City, GUATE. In 2004, Gov. James Doyle appointed Sweet as WI’s Poet Laureate (4-year term); the 2nd laureate named for the state of Wisconsin.
Her works of poetry and fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies and literary journals such as Cream City Review, Calyx, Akwekon, Sinister Wisdom, Yellow Medicine Review, Yakhiko la’tuse? (“She Tells Us Stories”), Another Chicago Magazine, Recreating The Enemy’s Language (ed. Joy Harjo), Plainswoman, Returning The Gift (ed. Joseph Bruchac), Brave In The Face Of Danger (ed. Beth Brant), Traces In Blood, Bone And Stone: Ojibwa Poetry, Stories Migrating Home (ed. Kimberley Blaeser) and others. Palominos Near Tuba City is her 5th collection, released in April 2018. As Those With Faith Will Do: A Memoir is Sweet’s current works-in-progress.
Wendy Vardaman is an editor, writer, web manager, printmaker, and designer. She has published three collections of poems and co-edited several anthologies. Her most recent book of poems, Reliquary of Debt, is available from Lit Fest Press.
Ron Riekki’s books include U.P.: a novel (Ghost Road Press), Posttraumatic: A Memoir (Small Press Distribution), and My Ancestors are Reindeer Herders and I Am Melting in Extinction: Saami-American Non-Fiction, Fiction, and Poetry (Loyola University Maryland’s Apprentice House Press). Riekki edited Undocumented: Great Lakes Poets Laureate on Social Justice (Michigan State University Press), And Here: 100 Years of Upper Peninsula Writing, 1917-2017 (MSU Press), Here: Women Writing on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (MSU Press, Independent Publisher Book Award), The Way North: Collected Upper Peninsula New Works (Wayne State University Press, Michigan Notable Book), and The Many Lives of The Evil Dead: Essays on the Cult Film Franchise (McFarland). He has books upcoming with McFarland, Wayne State University Press, Main Street Rag, Edinburgh University Press, and Michigan State University Press.