Alex-Andrei (Alexei) Ungurenaşu
Youth Poet Laureate, 2021-2023
The City of Windsor is proud to announce Alex-Andrei (Alexei) Ungurenaşu (they/them) as its next youth poet laureate. Ungurenaşu will serve in the position from 2021 to 2023.
Ungurenaşu is an emerging writer who cites Leonard Cohen, Walt Whitman, William Blake and John Milton as primary influences for their own writing. Their first published poem will appear in the spring of 2021 in vol. 23 of Headlight Anthology. They are beginning work on a short volume of poetry called Sandwiched to be published within the next two years. They are a current student at the University of Windsor, working towards a Bachelor of Arts Honours in English and Philosophy. They are a teaching assistant for the university’s arts and humanities courses and have also worked part-time for Indigo book store, where they shared their love of literature with customers and colleagues.
Ungurenaşu participated in the virtual poetry reading and workshop Here and There in October 2020 in partnership with the Art Gallery of Windsor. They presented their own poetry workshop To Light in May 2020 with support from Windsor’s Arts, Culture & Heritage Fund (ACHF) helping to complete the project and bring inspiration to residents during the first year of the COVID-19 global pandemic. They have served as a member and contributor to the Arts Council Windsor & Region’s Vanguard Youth Arts Collective, working on several projects that engage youth through the arts and writing.
Alexei has volunteered with Artcite Inc. in downtown Windsor, helping to install artworks and assisting with exhibitions; with the Humanities Research Group at the University of Windsor, serving as undergraduate student representative on the advisory board (2018 to 2020) and being named a two-time finalist of the Why Humanities? contest; with the Windsor Youth Centre, providing hospitality services for at-risk youth; and with several Toronto-based arts and culture events and initiatives prior to arriving in Windsor.
Ungurenaşu says that, as Windsor’s next youth poet laureate, they will work on projects to showcase Windsor’s youth poetry both virtually and in person, seeking ways to integrate the role and form strong partnerships with local organizations, institutions and initiatives. They will work to create opportunities to collaborate with youth poets and artists, and they will look to design and present readings and workshops with local schools.
“As an outsider-become-insider – both as a Romanian in Canada, and as a Torontonian in Windsor – I have a distinct appreciation for Windsor. When I write and talk about my hometown, Iaşi, many of my friends who live there tell me that I am showing them the city in ways that they have not seen it before; better yet, they discover new reasons to love their city ... This is how I hope to inspire my peers who were born and raised in Windsor: to encourage them to experience the city and its features poetically. In my poetry, I show Windsor as I see it, as a combination of lights, colours, sounds, directions, faces, streets, smells, signs, buildings, and everything else. Poetry for me is exciting, powerful, moving, healing, and, most importantly, fun. As an ambassador for youth and the literary arts, I will simultaneously nourish the relationships between youth and Windsor and between youth and poetry.” - Alexei Ungurenaşu
“I was blown away by Alexei’s poetry – a strong sense of place, and outsider perspective. They have an amazing sense of poetry, and of Windsor – such an artistic sense of ‘place.’ I’ve always found that so fascinating, so necessary for a poet! I think Alexei has a unique gift. They are a poet who will accomplish great things and will do Windsor proud.” - Mary Ann Mulhern, Poet Laureate, City of Windsor
“The City of Windsor’s poet laureate program helps to record and share the stories that shape our city while teaching us the value of unique voices and new perspectives. Our inaugural youth poet laureate helped to show how this program can be a vehicle to increased inclusivity and a greater understanding and appreciation for our diverse, multicultural community. We look forward to what Alexei will now bring to this important role.” - Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens
“Alexei has the ability to connect with people and bring the power of storytelling out into the community. They will do wonders working alongside the City of Windsor and with our current poet laureate Mary Ann Mulhern and poet laureate emeritus Marty Gervais.” - Councillor Jo-Anne Gignac, Windsor City Council
First Impressions virtual speaker series
Alexei Ungurenaşu is hosting a monthly virtual series called First Impressions. Each talk sees Alexei and their guest interviewing one another and reading a few texts from their bodies of work.
First Impressions: Entering the talks with limited knowledge of each other’s life stories, passions, and writings, Alexei and their guests aim to simultaneously display and transcend first impressions through the questions and words that they share with each other and their audience. With each dialogue running its unique course of subjects and ideas, this series of reflections audibly and visually illustrates the process of writers finding common ground and elevating each other’s voices through direct literary conversation.
Tune in to Museum Windsor's Facebook page the last Thursday of each month at 7:00 p.m. for the latest installment. While there, you can check out the July virtual session with poet Serafina Piasentin.
August Session - Thursday, August 26, 2021 at 7:00 p.m. with special guest Brandon Cormier.
Alexei’s guest in August is poet Brandon Cormier whose work was part of the "Windsor's Resilient Voices" campaign that placed inspiration poems on city buses, and in vaccination sites and hospitals in Windsor.
Arts Council Windsor & Region recently launched the New Voices billboard project - a new 6x6-foot billboard located on the external wall of the ArtSpeak Gallery, right on the alleyway. The billboard features interchangeable letters and will be a place for language-based exhibitions and for concrete and experimental poetry installations. The initial focus of this program is to provide an outlet for underrepresented and marginalized voices in our community, including new generation artists, new immigrant artists, artists of colour, indigenous artists, artists with disabilities, francophone artists, and artists from the 2SLGBTQ+ communities.
Ungurenaşu's poem, “Hold, Twist, Release” is currently on display through this program. ACWR is now selling a limited edition run of tote bags as part of the initiative. You can order your own tote bag featuring Alexei’s poem at ACWR.net for $20.00 CAD each with no tax. Delivery is possible within Windsor-Essex County. There are only 50 tote bags for sale of each design as they are a limited edition run.