University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee

Alumni Awards Evening

Susan Firer

MA English/Creative Writing `82, BA General Liberal Arts `73
Poet, Adjunct Associate Professor of English, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee firer

Susan is a widely published and honored poet locally and nationally, with two books winning national prizes.  She has taken her poems and teaching skills to libraries, schools, prisons, and civic groups for over 30 years.  She was named the current Poet Laureate of Milwaukee, there having been only five Poet Laureates in Milwaukee before her.

As Poet Laureate she has been energetic and creative in her work to benefit poetry and the Milwaukee Public Library during her appointment.  She has met with at-risk students in the ArtWorks program to discuss reading and writing and her own experiences as a writer.  She has read her poems at the Milwaukee Catholic Home and discussed Milwaukee's literary life with Downtown Milwaukee Cultural Ambassadors.  Recently, she was appointed poetry editor of the Shepherd Express, being asked to revive a department that had disappeared from the newspaper for some time.

Susan is determined to increase the exposure of the widest possible selection of poetry to the widest possible audience, and so to improve the general culture of her community.  One of her most important recent accomplishments in that  vein is her production, "Contraptions," an inter-arts collaboration featuring music, poetry and dance, which was performed at the Milwaukee Public Library's Centennial Hall in September, 2008.

Susan's fine reputation as a poet and teacher brings honor to UWM since she is strongly identified with the Creative Writing program.  She has promoted and organized poetry readings at the campus and in the metropolitan Milwaukee community for over 20 years.  She has chaired the Creative Writing program's visiting writers committee which was responsible for bringing in Galway Kinnell, Cornelius Eady, Russell Edson, Carolyn Ferrell, and many others, and in Fall 2006 organized the Milwaukee leg of the Wave Poetry Bus Tour.    

Susan's own poetry is strongly rooted in Milwaukee life as demonstrated through the title of her most recent book, Milwaukee Does Strange Things to People.