City of Windsor’s Poets Laureate Bringing Poetry to the Community with “Windsor’s Resilient Voices” Initiative

Windsor’s Poet Laureate Emeritus Marty Gervais and Poet Laureate Mary Ann Mulhern are planning to bring poetry to the Windsor community in an innovative way this year. 

“Windsor’s Resilient Voices” is an initiative to celebrate National Poetry Month by placing short, six-line inspirational poems on interior advertisement spaces across the Transit Windsor fleet of buses and throughout select facilities beginning April 1, 2021.

Over the next month, all interested Windsor poets, particularly youth (aged 14 to 24), are encouraged to submit original poems on the theme of “Resilience” to Windsor’s poets laureate. Gervais and Mulhern will work together to select approximately one hundred poems from those submitted to be printed for display on buses and throughout the community.  

The initiative was conceived of by Gervais and local poet and lawyer Peter Hrastovec, who both sought a meaningful way to mark National Poetry Month during the continuing COVID-19 global pandemic. The League of Canadian Poets selected “Resilience” as the theme for National Poetry Month this year, explaining the theme as follows: “What does it mean to be resilient? We meet resilience in every corner we’ve ever been backed into, every hardship that we endure. Resilience is geographical, spiritual, historical. It’s the fight against climate change, the inner battle with mental health, the outcry for human rights and an end to systemic racism. Resilience is the backbone of generations of trauma, the silence at the dinner table, the bow to culture’s violin. Resilience is the courage to start each day anew. This National Poetry Month 2021, we celebrate, reflect on and respect the resilience that has made us who we are.”

Gervais says the initiative and theme provide an opportunity for local poets, specifically young poets, to consider their own lives through the lens of resilience. “Resilience is what this town knows best,” Gervais said. “Time after time we have been through life-changing moments in our history, and we have always bounced back. That is our character, and for the past year, we have shown how, in spite of the challenges and setbacks, we are pushing back; we are lifting ourselves up; we are resilient as we always have been. We will make a difference to the generations to come.”

In placing the selected poems on buses and in facilities throughout Windsor, Gervais and Mulhern are taking the opportunity to deliver on the goals of the City of Windsor’s poet laureate program, which include promoting poetry to a wide and appreciative audience while strengthening the public’s relationship to literature. Since the start of the pandemic, the poets laureate have written over seventy poems that have been shared online.

“Poetry has truly connected people all across our community throughout the pandemic,” said Mulhern. “This initiative is another way to help us pause and reflect not only on all we’re facing together but on the strength, spirit and resiliency that’s helping lead us through.”

Windsor’s inaugural youth poet laureate, Samantha Badaoa, will contribute a poem to the project.

Funding to print and display the selected poems will be provided through the City of Windsor’s poet laureate program, and Gervais and Mulhern will oversee the submission and selection process. In addition to publication on the advertisements, the City will also provide certificates of recognition to the poets whose work is selected for the project.  

“I’m proud to see the City of Windsor support this innovative initiative from our poets laureate,” said Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens. “This gets poetry out into the community at a time when we are looking for small acts of kindness and inspiration to help us face the challenges of the pandemic.”

Submission Examples:

The Best of Times
by Marty Gervais

We may think the only world is the one
that is virtual – a laptop or smartphone
but turn away, step into a garden, go for a walk
pretend for a moment and gather up the clouds
above you and give yourself a moment to dream

To Survive
by Mary Ann Mulhern

On my river-walk
I see a goose
Wing broken and torn
A duck with a damaged bill
They survive wind, ice and snow
We will too

Deadline to submit: Friday, March 5, 2021.

See program information and submission forms.

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