Anniversary Poem


Kimberly Blaeser, Wisconsin Poet Laureate

As UW-Milwaukee marks this 60th anniversary and I was asked to write a poem celebrating its contributions to the city, region, and state, I realized I was less interested in the documentary history than in the philosophy supporting the endeavor of shared learning. The legacy of universities is always in their students and in the work their graduates do in the world. Our job as educators is to awaken a hunger for inquiry and a passion for transforming knowledge into ethical action. Whether students will turn their hands toward designing ecologically sound buildings or bringing theatre to impoverished areas, classrooms should equip them with both practical skills and the vision that will help them step hopefully into each challenge. Those tenets have stood at the heart of UWM’s mission, embedded as it is in the Wisconsin Idea.

Dispersion: A Treatise

Educating is always a vocation rooted in hopefulness. bell hooks


Where in time

among terrorist cells

relentless fracking

the steady slipping into ocean—

refugees becoming bodies?

Where speak write

or fathom questions

of equity and survival—the dark

lung-hungers of humanity?

In what corridors of becoming

but these?


Here where lake waters

spill stories of cream city brick,

inquiry bridges into filmsilver

images, concepts into resilient designs—

the gravitational wisdom of a collective.

A benediction of knowledge

named science, named art.

Here transform global blueprints,

turn aquaculture lab notes

to sung poetry of repair

to geometry for the flourishing planet.

Where learning bends

to speckled cloth of service:

the simple spooling

and unspooling—of light.