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Milwaukee All-Star: Poet and activist Angela Trudel Vasquez

Every week in 2015, OnMilwaukee.com and local design company Too Much Metal will join forces to introduce the latest member of the Milwaukee All Stars – a team of unfamiliar winners living in Brew City who consistently and diligently make it shine. Each week, a new member will join the team – based on your recommendations – and at the end of the year all will come together in a Rally of the Raddest Milwaukeeans. We're not sure what that means quite yet, so for now, meet …

Angela Trudel Vasquez

Angela Trudel Vasquez is a Mexican-American poet, writer, performer and activist. Her father was the first person in the family to attend college and she went on to graduate from Drake University.

Vasquez has published many poems and uses her writing gift to promote issues she is passionate about from immigration rights to public schools to environmental protection. She received a Voices Award from Planned Parenthood for poetry that she performed at the 2013 Roe v. Wade celebration event in Madison.

OnMilwaukee.com / Too Much Metal: Name a Milwaukeean you would like to high five.

Angela Vasquez: Father James Groppi.

OMC / TMM: What is your favorite time of year in Milwaukee?

AV: Summer! I love biking to work in the warmer weather. My threshold is about 40 degrees so I start biking as early as possible in the spring, but I love summer in the Midwest. I like getting browner, and there's nothing like biking along the Oak Leaf bike path and through the woods to arrive at work refreshed with exercise and catching glimpses of nature and wildlife along the way.

OMC / TMM: What is your favorite / or least favorite Milwaukee smell?

AV: I live near the Milwaukee River in Riverwest and the smell of the leaves decaying in the fall and the good earthy tones that arrive with each foot step are healing to me.

OMC / TMM: What's your hope for Milwaukee?

AV: That Milwaukee will stop the public school takeover at the state level and maintain a high level of education for all its students, have smaller class sizes and be given more funds for art and physical education; that there will be jobs that pay a decent living wage for people who need jobs so they can take care of their families and communities; that the immigrants who live here now will benefit from the immigration changes and be able to contribute to their communities and be able to provide a good life for their families; that the violence perpetuated upon the people by the police ceases; that the move to decriminalize marijuana goes through on the city level; that we can move to protect our environment and public spaces for future generations; that the people of Milwaukee see how the challenges the city faces are the same challenges people face everywhere and we need to get to the root of our problems (policy) instead of applying band aids. There are many more things I care about but …

OMC / TMM: What made you fall in love with Milwaukee?

AV: I am moved by the smallest acts of kindness. As a poet I study people and their interactions. There are so many good poets here. I think it was Woodland Pattern's poetry marathon, the first one I participated in when I moved here, that made me think I had made a good choice for me, my art and activism. I like how people live on the outside here, that they let their emotions show, for good and for bad, but they feel their feelings. I love the ferocity that people show when they are moved by injustice, that they fight for what they believe in, they dance at festivals, they drink and celebrate with gusto. The other reason I love Milwaukee is the community of dancers I have found through NIA and at Core El Centro. And of course the lake, I love the lake and my neighborhood.

OMC / TMM: To quote the poet Mary Oliver, what do you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

AV: We only have this one life. I choose to live my life the way I want to without regard for what others think. I am a second and third generation Mexican from Iowa. I am a feminist. My ancestors sacrificed much for me to be here and to have had the opportunities I have had. I must give back. I know I am lucky and that by the accident of birth I landed here now in this place and time in this very body. I do the things that scare me, that challenge me and make me grow. I have learned that saying yes is important to me, and my practice of life as a poet, writer and activist.

OMC / TMM: What's your guilty pleasure?

AV: I don't have guilty pleasures. I enjoy all my pleasures. But I really do like watching big, tall men dance and get down.

Do you know a Milwaukee All Star? OnMilwaukee.com and Too Much Metal are looking for true-hearted folks living in the city of Milwaukee who love what they do –and do it with zest and style. Email fred@toomuchmetal.com or molly@onmilwaukee.com with recommendations.

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