For the love of language

photo submitted by Nicholas Gulig of University of Wisconsin Whitewater

photo submitted by Nicholas Gulig of University of Wisconsin Whitewater

Libby Nabhan, Assistant Campus Editor

A laureate is appointed by the state government as the head poet and representative of poetry for two years. This title was awarded to a University of Wisconsin-Whitewater associate professor, Nicholas Gulig, of the Languages and Literature department. The job of the laureate of Wisconsin is to be the speaker for the poetry community within the state with roles including advocating for art in schools, giving speeches to schools, and to be a political advocate for the language arts of the state. His job is to be a ‘cheerleader’ for all the lovers of languages throughout the state. 

Along with the political advocacy that he will begin, he is a resource for the university as well, as he will be able to share with the places he visits about Whitewater’s campus and language arts department. His main goal with this title is to improve the learning of the students by showing students around Wisconsin what this school has to offer, not just what it is known for. This will help to provide his students with more resources, and he is hoping that he can advocate for the students and the professors. 

When asked what inspired him, he began to paint a picture of his childhood, starting with his ‘granola’ parents raising him without a television to finding himself in highschool. 

“The cultural input wasn’t there at my house,” said Gulig, describing that he would read upwards of fifty books a week because that was what he could do. He believes that “words grant you access to worlds.” This led him to the conclusion that he just overall loved words, which he explored throughout highschool. He looked up to the ‘cooler’ upperclassmen that would pave the way for him to be creative. While his past impacted his work tremendously and was raised with his father’s love of poetry, he also began to grow into himself while using the older kids as an example of what he is able to do. 

“Poetry for the most part is useless and to its value is in its uselessness,” said Gulig when asked what his favorite aspect of poetry is. He says that the ability to do something without the end existing outside of the work is something that he doesn’t do anywhere else. He says that it is rare to do something that doesn’t connect to something bigger, giving him an outlet. He believes that this phenomenon is a product of the world we live in, socially, economically, and politically that everything we do “must have a purpose,” but to him, poetry doesn’t. It doesn’t have an end goal, it is something that he can do that lets him express himself in a way that others can relate to, without feeling the need to do more. 

Gulig also mentions that he had no clue that there were so many poets in Wisconsin, mainly because there are a few things this state is known for, and it doesn’t include the languages. But for him, when he took this position, there was a project that was required to finish, and his goal was to make a resource that connected all the poets together so they could know each other exists. For him, this award is less of a title and more of a way for him to spread his love of language and poetry with the poets and writers of the state. 

Along with him enjoying poetry as an outlet that means something to many and is useless within the world, his main goal is that students will realize that it is okay to be creative. 

“If there are students that are outside of the department, and you love language the way I do, come talk to me,” Gulig said when asked what he would like to tell students. Because he has this title now, his schedule has begun to fill up with interviews, talks, and other meetings, but he knows in his heart that this is a title that comes with responsibility, and as the appointed poetry laureate of Wisconsin, his goal is to not only spread the poetry throughout Wisconsin but to make it known that language is important.