City of Windsor Seeks Next Youth Poet Laureate for Two-Year Term

The City of Windsor is calling for applications or nominations for the city’s next youth poet laureate.

Windsor’s poet laureate program is a vital piece of the local creative community. Since 2011, the program has helped develop and cultivate an engaged, all-ages local audience that appreciates and responds to the literary arts. The program aims to promote poetry to a wide and appreciative audience while strengthening the public’s relationship to literature by celebrating poetry, writing and the contribution of poets to the cultural life of our diverse community. Windsor has set an example for other Canadian communities for what is possible through a responsive and interactive poet laureate program that truly engages a community while allowing the City to help capture, preserve and share Windsor’s unique stories.

The city’s current youth poet laureate, Samantha Badaoa, will reach the end of her term in 2021. Upon her appointment, the selection committee noted her local accomplishments, tremendous contributions to the spoken word scene and strong female voice. During her time as Windsor’s inaugural youth poet laureate, Badaoa achieved great success and impact. Most notably, she published her first collection of poetry, So am I, with Black Moss Press and under the mentorship of the city’s poet laureate emeritus, Marty Gervais. She was a featured poet in the 2020 virtual edition of Poetry at the Manor. Her works were published online to help inspire residents throughout National Poetry Month in April 2020 and through the remainder of the year. She participated in the multi-media Scattered Ecstasies event, writing a poem based on a quote from Pablo Neruda which then inspired a painting by a local artist. She has created a writing and poetry mentoring series with weekly programming for youth and has participated in numerous public poetry readings since being appointed to the role. Badaoa collaborated with Street Help to perform poetry at a homelessness fundraiser and facilitated the Poetry of the Body workshop in collaboration with Gertrude’s Writing Room. Badaoa has two poems appearing in an upcoming collection of poetry written during the COVID-19 global pandemic. 

“My time as Windsor’s inaugural youth poet laureate has been one of extreme growth,” said Badaoa. “Through this program I have been able to explore the boundaries of poetry and realize its ongoing importance to the health of our city. The connections I have made during these last two years and the work that has come from the support of the arts community in Windsor are truly indescribable. More importantly, I have been able to witness firsthand the talent and potential that the youth in our city possess — their resilience and courage is a testament to us all. I cannot wait to see how our arts community progresses under their leadership. Thank you, Windsor.”

Calling all youth poets

As Badaoa prepares to pass the literary torch, interested youth poets are encouraged to apply and may also be nominated for consideration for the role. The Youth Poet Laureate position will serve to honour a Windsor poet aged 14 to 24 years who writes excellent poetry and focuses on themes that are relevant to youth who live in the city of Windsor. This poet will provide a strong youth voice and will reach out to other youth to inspire interest in poetry and the literary arts. As an ambassador for youth, poetry, language and the arts, the youth poet laureate will create artistic work reflecting Windsor’s young people and the places, sites, identity and/or life of the city’s youth.

Applicants must reside in the city of Windsor and have a strong connection to the local arts, culture and heritage community. Through this process, the City is seeking out diverse voices and perspectives, including Black, Indigenous and People of Colour and equity-seeking writers and poets. Those working in non-traditional literary art forms (including spoken word artists and storytellers) are encouraged to apply.

“The City of Windsor is one of Canada’s most diverse communities,” said Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens. “This program has already taught us the value of unique voices, perspectives, and new stories. It has the power to be a vehicle to increased inclusivity, greater understanding, and a true appreciation for our diverse, multicultural community.”

Full details on eligibility requirements, application process and required submission form, selection criteria, role responsibilities, honorariums, term lengths and more can be found in the program guidelines.

Deadline to apply: Friday, March 5, 2021.

Program Contact Information: For further information or questions, please contact Culture at culturalaffairs@citywindsor.ca, or visit our Poet Laureate web page for the submission form and other program information.                                                                                                          

“Mane” by Samantha Badaoa, Windsor’s Inaugural Youth Poet Laureate

my hair has made a graveyard
of the things that have tried to control it.
it consumes all that attempts to tame it.
I let it roam free without judgement or expectation.
until Rebecca asks me why my hair looks like a poodle.

I spend the rest of sixth grade being called “poodle.”
I spend the rest of the year studying magazine covers
trying to understand how to look like her
how to look like the seas of bodies constantly
surrounding me.

when I ask my mother why even the women
in her Middle Eastern soap opera have straight hair
she tells me how easy it is
to be seduced by heat and flat irons
how much people want
to quiet all that is unruly about themselves.
she takes out a map. points to her hometown.
tells me that I am the spitting image of all the women
that prowl her mountain-side village.
tells me that in a way
I am all that she hasn’t seen in a decade.

but not all lessons are learned right away.
I ask for a straightener for Christmas, and I get it.
I spend most of my teen years
battling all that is (not white) about me.
I have lived in the steam and smoke and empty promises
of beauty products meant to fix something
I didn’t know was broken.

I have never apologized for all the prayers I wasted
all the time I spent wishing myself different
everything I did to forget the mountains I resemble.
or all that I might (am) still do(ing).

From So am I by Samantha Badaoa. Published by Black Moss Press, 2020.
Available at
Black Moss Press, Indigo and Amazon.

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