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Jon Davis
Forget each slight, each head that turned
Toward something more intriguing—
Red flash of wing beyond the window,

The woman brightly chiming
About the suffering of the world. Forget
The way your best friend told the story

Of that heroic road trip, forgetting that you drove
From Tulsa to Poughkeepsie while he
Slumped dozing under headphones. Forget

The honors handed out, the lists of winners.
Forget the certificates, bright trophies you
Could have, should have, maybe won.

Remind yourself you never wanted them.
When the spotlight briefly shone on you,
You stepped back into darkness,

Let the empty stage receive the light,
The black floor suddenly less black—
Scuff-marks, dust, blue tape—the cone

Of light so perfect, slicing silently that perfect
Silent darkness, and you, hidden in that wider dark,
Your refusal a kind of gratitude at last.
Madison Poet Laureate, writer, editor, activist and humanist
Why I chose this poem: 

Jon Davis was the MFA director who accepted me into IAIA and changed the trajectory of my life. I still remember sitting at my desk, AKA my dining room table, the same one I am sitting at now typing up these words. I ran and shouted to my husband, “I got into IAIA.” I had also been accepted into Columbia College in Chicago, and was weighing the two options. I chose the Institute of American Indian Arts and this made all the difference for me. I had never been to Sante Fe, New Mexico. Now I have this larger circle of friends from all over the world. Funny how one thing can completely change your life, and open your world. Jon Davis did this for me. Jon’s poetry is sublime. His books many. His knowledge about poetry and craft is huge. His work has great heart. He was among the first people I told about my Madison Poet Laureateship.

Angie Trudell Vasquez (Mexican-American 2nd & 3rd generation Iowan) holds a Master of Fine Arts in Poetry from the Institute of American Indian Arts. Her work has been published in Taos Journal of PoetryYellow Medicine Review, Raven ChroniclesThe RumpusCloudthroat, and the South Florida Poetry Journal. She has poems on the Poetry Foundation’s website, and was a Ruth Lilly fellow as an undergraduate at Drake University. Her third collection of poetry, In Light, Always Light, was released by Finishing Line Press in May 2019. She co-guest edited the Spring 2019 edition of the Yellow Medicine Review. She serves on the Wisconsin State Poet Laureate Commission, and currently lives in Madison, Wisconsin. On January 20, 2020 she became Madison’s newest Poet Laureate.

Jon Davis