The Milwaukee Public Library recently named Mario “The Poet” Willis as the new Poet Laureate of Milwaukee.
Willis is a poet, podcaster, performance coach and spoken word artist who was born and raised in Milwaukee. He is a two-time member of Milwaukee's National Poetry Slam Team; a Poetry Unplugged All-Star; and a mainstay community member of one of the longest-running open mic venues in the city, Poet’s Monday at Linneman’s Riverwest Inn.
He is also the co-creator and host of “Pancakes & Poetry,” a community celebration during Milwaukee's annual Bronzeville Week Festival.
For more than 16 years, Willis has studied with several nationally recognized spoken word artists and award-winning poets, including the most recent Poet Laureate and current Wisconsin State Poet Laureate Dasha Kelly Hamilton, Buddy Wakefield and Patricia Smith.
Willis has published three chapbooks: “Love More Coffee, and Dreams,” “Size Matters,” and “A Limited Engagement." He has also produced two spoken word CDs (“Forgiveness” and “Don’t Panic, Be Awesome”) and maintains a blog about poetry, performance and personal truth called “Don’t Panic, Be Awesome."
Willis is also a father of three, a Brewers' fan, community activist, volunteer with Hunger Task Force and a member of Autism Speaks (being the father of an autistic child).
"My philosophy is that love is the only thing that can truly save you and forgiveness makes love that much easier," he says.
Visit www.mpl.org/poetlaureate for more information about the program.
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.