Poet Laureate Program

Left to Right: Samantha Badaoa (Youth Poet Laureate), Marty Gervais (Poet Laureate Emeritus), Mary Ann Mulhern (Poet Laureate)
The City of Windsor's poet laureate program aims to promote poetry to a wide and appreciative audience, while strengthening the public's relationship to literature. The program helps celebrate poetry, writing and the contribution of poets to the cultural life of our community.

City of Windsor Poets Laureate 

City of Windsor Youth Poets Laureate


Poetry Collection now available - 'A Dance of Self-Isolation:
Covid Poems from the Biggest Little City in Canada'

A Dance of Self-Isolation poetry collection promotional photo
Through 2020, Windsor’s poets laureate responded to the COVID-19 global pandemic through poetry. Over 70 original poems have been published online, offering inspiration, support and understanding to the community during the unprecedented crisis.  

The poems have been gathered into a collection that becomes an artifact helping to tell the story of the pandemic in the City of Windsor. In this collection, Windsor’s poet laureate emeritus Marty Gervais, poet laureate Mary Ann Mulhern, youth poet laureate Samantha Badaoa (2019-2021), and Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens reflect upon and respond to the pandemic through poetry. The poems included capture the impact of the crisis, as well as the hopes, dreams, challenges, triumphs and fears of an entire community navigating lockdown and recovery in truly unprecedented times.

The collection is edited by Windsor’s Cultural Development Coordinator, Christopher Lawrence-Menard, and includes photographs by Gervais. A virtual launch, hosted by AM800 CKLW's Dan MacDonald was broadcast online and on YourTV March 20th, 2021 to mark the one-year anniversary of the first recorded case of COVID-19 in Windsor-Essex. Special guest panelists shared works from the poets and discussed links between poetry and how the global pandemic has impacted the Windsor-Essex community. From municipal response, isolation and recovery centres and supports for temporary farm workers and those experiencing homelessness, and pressures on existing hospitals infrastructure... to struggles faced by health care workers, and supports for food banks and other programs and initiatives aimed at lifting up vulnerable populations – this conversation provided a snapshot of life in our region over the past year. The launch also included musical performances from Nadine Deleury and The Bishop Boys.

Complimentary copies of the poetry collection were given to local long-term care homes, hospitals and first responder sites, and Windsor Public Library branches. The book available for purchase through Black Moss Press, selling for $18.00, with a portion of the proceeds from sales of each book going to support local food bank and food security initiatives.

A Dance of Self-Isolation is presented through the City of Windsor’s poet laureate program, in partnership with Museum Windsor and Black Moss Press.

“Like all forms of art, poetry has the ability to help us process much of what life throws at us,” said Mayor Drew Dilkens. “Our poets laureate and I have used our words to capture what our community has felt and experienced collectively throughout this pandemic. This book is a compendium that preserves and shares Windsor stories from 2020, giving you a slice of what was going on in our community this past year.”

Mulhern says, “Poetry is more than words. It allows people a connection, and we need that now more than ever. This collection is meaningful to me. One of the poems is about little flowers that were growing from rocks along the water last springtime, and I thought – if those little flowers can be so beautiful and thrive in a rock... we can thrive, too. We can be okay.”

Gervais adds, “COVID-19 has been a time of reflection, narrowing our focus. We’ve retreated to our homes, and suddenly there we are noticing things we’ve never noticed before. It’s made me pause and reflect. That’s where the poetry comes in – it reminds us that there’s something deeper that we can tap into – something very human, real and important. We turn to poetry when we experience great emotion – moments of sadness, joy, of love. This pandemic has been a time for us to take inventory of our hearts, our souls.”

Windsor’s current youth poet laureate Samantha Badaoa has been amazed watching young people bounce back during the pandemic, saying, “I know that COVID-19 has been a marker of this year, but it hasn’t just been the pandemic – it has been all of the civil unrest and how much youth in general have experienced changes in their lives. Watching young people adapt, grow and create, in the face of so many obstacles, has been inspiring to see. It’s amazing what the youth in the city can do.”

“Through their poems, our poets reflect on isolation, family, and community successes and struggles,” says Christopher Menard. “This collection is a record of their individual experiences, a snapshot of our community’s consciousness, and an artifact to help tell future generations what it was like to live, love, lose and look forward during a year of almost constant uncertainty.”


'Windsor's Resilient Voices' poetry initiative 

In honour of National Poetry Month 2021, Windsor’s Poet Laureate Emeritus Marty Gervais and Poet Laureate Mary Ann Mulhern set out to bring poetry to the Windsor community in an innovative way. 'Windsor’s Resilient Voices' places short inspirational poems on interior advertisement spaces across the Transit Windsor fleet of buses, on social media, and throughout select facilities including the WFCU Centre vaccination clinic, Windsor Hall vaccination clinic, St. Clair College vaccination clinic, and Windsor Regional Hospital sites.

The poems, written and submitted by area poets, including youth, focus on the theme of 'resilience'.

“I’m proud of this initiative and grateful to the poets who reached out to share their words at this time," said Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens. "This gets poetry out into the community at a time when small acts of kindness and inspiration can help us face the challenges of COVID-19.”

Gervais added, “Resilience is what this town knows best. Time after time we have been through life-changing moments, 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.”

Mulhern believes poetry connects people all across our community throughout the pandemic. "These poems present 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."

Tyson Cragg, Transit Windsor's executive director, welcomed the iniative, saying, "Transit Windsor is delighted to participate in 'Windsor’s Resilient Voices'. It gives us great pleasure to see the mingling of arts and culture with public transit, and I hope that these messages provide hope and uplift people’s spirits in these difficult times.”

Participating Poets:
  • Our Here and Now by Marty Gervais
  • To Survive by Mary Ann Mulhern
  • Candles by Art Williams
  • Alive by Mary Anne Fenton
  • The Sunshower by Nick Hildenbrand
  • Home Away From Home by C. Frank Doyle
  • Effervescent Utterances by Cyndi Shepley
  • The Tower / Le Château by Madeleine LeBlanc
  • Piano Man by Anastasia Kulaga
  • Hope / L’Espoir by Rebecca Brydon
  • The Earth’s Revolution by Serafina Piasentin
  • Light by Heather Reid
  • Dark Light by Robin Wilds
  • Imagination is Key by Maria Ceglie
  • I Choose by Liz Santos
  • One Day at a Time by Heidy Schumacher
  • Rising From the Wreckage by Abby Coutinho
  • Wayfinding by Mark Laliberte
  • We Are Not Alone by Vanessa Shields
  • People With Different Fortunes by Nora Gorges
  • The Strength of Opening the Close Directions by Angelo Yousif
  • What’s Next? By Christine Paris
  • Ungiven by Stephen Pender
  • Need for Nature by Heather McCardell
  • What the World Wants by Rebekah Voegeli
  • In Quarantine by Peter Hrastovec
  • At the Riverside by Mackenzie Gagnier
  • The World is Forever by Andre Narbonne
  • Recuperate by Michael Lee
  • Tales of a Hero by Emmy Longmoore
  • Resilience by Wafaa El-Tawil
  • New Observations by Victoria Hecnar
  • City of Voices by Marie Groundwater-Pottle
  • The Lonely Light by Derek Deneau
  • Still Standing by Deborah Koko
  • PUSH! by Celeste Kurcz
  • Swing and a Miss by Bradley Erdelyan
  • When the Mist Clears by Aryan Bhati
  • Transformations by Samantha Badaoa
  • I Am a Mirror by Mariam Habana
  • Eyes Open by Joanne Laforet
  • Resilience by Angelica Lachance-Friedl
  • Silence by Brandon Cormier
  • White Widow by Julienne Rousseau
  • It’s Always the Last Place U Look by Wade Quenneville
  • Flowers by Samantha Badaoa
  • Resilience by Kai Kristoff
  • To Hope by Sara Scarfone
  • Patience by Julian Villafuerte
  • Change by Alex McCall
  • Solitude by Robin Wilds
  • Purity of Line by MA | DE
  • This Kind of Resilience by Vanessa Shields
  • Embracing by Vanessa Shields
  • The Shape of Distance by Vanessa Shields
  • Resilience Assumes Togetherness by Vanessa Shields
  • Slowdown by Christine Paris
  • Higher Ground by Peter Hrastovec
  • Random by Peter Hrastovec
  • Hope for the Future by Victoria Hecnar
  • Untitled by Laurie Smith 

Invite Our Poets

To invite Windsor's Poet Laureate, Youth Poet Laureate or Poet Laureate Emeritus to attend and participate at your event, please email culturalaffairs@citywindsor.ca. Our poet laureate team may choose to prepare a new poem or read from existing works as part of your community event. All requests are submitted to the appropriate poet, and the poets themselves decide which events they are able to attend.  


Windsor's Poet Laureate

Windsor's poet laureate position will serve to honour a poet (aged 25 years and older) who writes excellent poetry and focuses on themes that are relevant to the people who live in the City of Windsor. This poet will serve as an ambassador for the arts, culture and heritage sectors in the City of Windsor and help to celebrate poetry and the arts – particularly the literary arts. As an ambassador for poetry and literature, the poet laureate will be invited to attend municipal events to share works and raise the profile of the literary arts in Windsor.

Duties, roles and responsibilities of the poet laureate: 

  • To serve as an ambassador for poetry, literature, literacy, and the literary arts;
  • Create artistic work that reflects Windsor’s people, places, sites, identity, and/or the life of the city;
  • Produce at least three original works for specific events or occasions identified by the City each year;
  • Make public presentations of their work at least three times a year;
  • Work with City Administration to produce at least one poetry event a year; and
  • Participate in the literary life of the city to raise the visibility of literacy, poetry, and spoken word.

Windsor's Youth Poet Laureate

Windsor's youth poet laureate position will serve to honour a 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 arts – particularly the literary arts. As an ambassador for youth, poetry, language and the arts, the youth poet laureate will be invited to attend municipal events to share works and increase engagement of youth with the arts.

Duties, roles and responsibilities of the youth poet laureate:

  • To serve as an ambassador for youth, poetry, literature, literacy, and the literary arts;
  • Create artistic work that reflects Windsor’s young people, places, sites, identity, and/or the life of the city’s youth;
  • Produce at least two original works for specific events or occasions identified by the City each year;
  • Make public presentations of their work at least two times a year;
  • Work with City Administration to produce at least one community youth poetry event a year; and
  • Participate in the literary life of the City to raise the visibility of youth, literacy, poetry, and spoken word.
 

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