Windsor’s Poets Laureate Welcome Special Guest Poets from across Canada for Poetry at the Manor Virtual Reading
City of Windsor Poet Laureate Emeritus Marty Gervais and Poet Laureate Mary Ann Mulhern are hosting five poets laureate from across Canada for a special virtual edition of the popular annual Poetry at the Manor. As we also celebrate the 10th anniversary of Windsor’s poet laureate program, it is fitting that this year’s special guest poets include Louise Bernice Halfe-Sky Dancer (Canadian Parliamentary Poet Laureate), Albert Dumont (Ottawa’s English-Language Poet Laureate), Randell Adjei (Ontario’s Poet Laureate), Victoria Butler (Barrie’s Poet Laureate), and Alexei Ungurenaşu (Windsor’s Youth Poet Laureate). The poets will participate in the unique reading and discussion in an online video format, as pandemic restrictions continue to impact this initiative.
The virtual reading will be broadcast Tuesday, October 19, 2021, at 7:00 p.m. on Mayor Drew Dilkens’ YouTube channel and shared on Facebook pages for Mayor Drew Dilkens, the City of Windsor, Museum Windsor, and Black Moss Press.
In addition to the poets, special guests include Mayor Drew Dilkens with introductory and welcome remarks, Councillor Jo-Anne Gignac with a message to mark the 10th anniversary of Windsor’s poet laureate program, Nadine Deleury with a cello performance filmed outside of Willistead Manor, Michelle Staadegaard for the City’s Community Services Division, and Crissi Cochrane with a special musical performance. Willistead Manor is the usual setting for this event, with the switch to virtual continuing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Links to booksellers for the poets’ works will be promoted during the broadcast.
Mayor Drew Dilkens: “Poetry at the Manor is going virtual again this year, as our community continues to fight back against the COVID-19 virus. Throughout the pandemic, Windsor’s poets laureate have shared their words, capturing the feelings and experiences of our community. As we mark the 10th anniversary of our poet laureate program, we are honoured to welcome the poets laureate for Canada, Ontario, Ottawa and Barrie to help us carry on this important literary tradition in the city of Windsor. Joining with our three local laureates, these poets will bring diverse voices and perspectives to this one-of-a-kind poetry reading.”
Marty Gervais, Windsor’s Poet Laureate Emeritus: “This remains by far the most popular poetry event in Windsor, and has been for the past nine years. Windsor was the first to do this. Since its inception, other communities across Canada have jumped on the bandwagon and organized similar events. This year, as we mark the 10th anniversary of Windsor’s innovative and engaging poet laureate program, it is fantastic to be welcoming poets laureate who have such diverse bodies of work to share with us. You don’t want to miss this virtual edition.”
Mary Ann Mulhern, Windsor’s Poet Laureate: “We meet again in a time of pandemic, our lives open to poetry, the life of words all of us need.”
Poetry at the Manor – Vol. 9 is presented by the City of Windsor, through the Culture & Events Department, and in partnership with the Office of Mayor Drew Dilkens, the League of Canadian Poets, Willistead Manor, Black Moss Press, and Biblioasis.
For more information and details, visit www.CityWindsor.ca.
About the 2021 Guest Poets Laureate
Marty Gervais is a best-selling author of non-fiction, poetry, and fiction. Gervais’ work and contributions to Canadian literature have garnered multiple awards including the Toronto Harbourfront Prize, Milton Acorn People’s Poetry prize, and the Queen’s Jubilee Medal. As Windsor’s inaugural Poet Laureate (2011-2018), Marty raised the profile of both the written and spoken word. His most recent works are 2018’s Table Manners: Selected & New Poems with Black Moss Press, 2020’s Nine Lives – A Reunion in Paris with Urban Farmhouse Press, and 2021’s A Dance of Self-Isolation with Black Moss Press, and both Nothing more Perfect and A New Dress Every Day with Mosaic Press. In 2019, his term as Poet Laureate concluded, and Windsor City Council named Gervais Poet Laureate Emeritus in recognition of his tremendous work in the role.
Mary Ann Mulhern, Windsor’s current Poet Laureate (2018-2022), was born in St. Thomas, Ontario. She taught in St. Thomas, London and Windsor. She writes narrative poetry. Eight books of poetry have been published by Black Moss Press. Mary Ann was influenced by John. B. Lee, Marty Gervais, Patrick Lane and the writing of Margaret Atwood. Two books were short-listed for the Acorn-Plantos Award: Touch the Dead, and When Angels Weep. Mary Ann was interviewed by Mary Hynes, Tapestry, CBC Radio. This interview was about her book, The Red Dress. The book became a best-seller. Mary Ann’s most recent book, The Midnight Moon Sings of Murder, tells the tragic tale of the Donnelly family of Lucan, Ontario. A pre-launch was held at the Windsor Yacht Club in January 2021. Mary Ann plans to read in Lucan once COVID restrictions have further eased. Her poems were also published recent in the pandemic poetry collection, A Dance of Self-Isolation, published by Black Moss Press.
Alexei Ungurenaşu (they/them), Windsor’s current Youth Poet Laureate (2021-2023), writes from the perspective of an outsider-become-insider. As a Romanian-Canadian artist living in Windsor, they craft poems, zines, paintings, and collages summoning the various places where they have lived and visited. Writing began as a hobby for Alexei, and eventually led to them being named Windsor’s second youth poet laureate. Alexei draws much inspiration from their studies in literature and philosophy, with existentialism and romanticism serving as direct influences. In their poems, Alexei uses words to bridge the distance – be in physical, emotional, or temporal – between themselves and the places, people, and moments that they miss. When they are not reading or writing, Alexei seeks ways of staying involved in the local arts community. They are a member of the Vanguard Youth Arts Collective, and they often run events with the Art Gallery of Windsor and the University of Windsor’s Humanities Research Group. As youth poet laureate, Ungurenaşu seeks to highlight Windsor’s youth poetry by creating opportunities to collaborate with young writers and artists across the community, while forming strong bonds with local organizations, institutions and initiatives.
Louise Bernice Halfe-Sky Dancer is serving as Canada’s Parliamentary Poet Laureate (2021-2022). She was raised on Saddle Lake Reserve and attended Blue Quills Residential School. She graduated with a Bachelor of social work from the University of Regina and completed two years of Nechi Training in St. Albert’s Nechi Institute. Ms. Halfe serves on various committees throughout Canada and provides services with Opik, an Elders circle that works with apprehended children and their families. In 2005, she served as Saskatchewan’s second Poet Laureate. She is widely recognized for weaving Cree language and teachings into her works. Her books, Bear Bones and Feathers (1994), Blue Marrow (2004), The Crooked Good (2007), and Burning In This Midnight Dream (2016) have all received numerous accolades and awards. Sôhkêyihta features selected poems and was published in 2018. Her latest works awâsis – kinky and dishevelled was released in the spring of 2021. Ms. Halfe has received honorary degrees from Wilfred Laurier University, the University of Saskatchewan and Mount Royal University. She is married and has two adult children and three grandsons.
Albert Dumont, Algonquin, Kitigan Zibi is Ottawa’s current English Language Poet Laureate (2021-2022). Presently, Albert is on the Grandparents Counsel for Well Living House, St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto. For ten years he worked as Spiritual Advisor for the Ministry of the Attorney General, the Parole Board of Canada and Correctional Services Canada. He is an activist, a volunteer and a poet who has published 5 books of poetry and short stories. In recognition for his work as an activist and volunteer on his ancestral lands (Ottawa and Region), Albert was presented with a Human Rights Award by the Public Service Alliance of Canada in 2010. In January 2017, he received the DreamKEEPERS Citation for Outstanding Leadership. Albert has dedicated his life to promoting Indigenous spirituality and healing and to protecting the rights of Indigenous Peoples particularly those affecting the young.
Randell Adjei Is Ontario’s first Poet Laureate (2021-2023). Adjei, a Scarborough native, is a spoken word artist, speaker, arts practitioner and cultural curator. He discovered his gift and love for poetry thanks to the support and inspiration from one of his grade 8 teachers who introduced him to writing as a means for self-expression to deal with challenges he was facing. This unleashed his inner spirit and led him towards a path of personal enlightenment as a budding writer. Randell attended high school in Scarborough, graduating as an Ontario Scholar and valedictorian for his class. Shortly after graduation, he was heading home one night when he was brutally attacked and robbed. The experience left him at an extreme low point in his life, but he slowly struggled back, refusing to let his battles defeat him. He turned this time of his life around, allowing it to help him build his personal mantra of resilience. In 2012, out of inspiration for what he had gone through, Randell formed R.I.S.E. Edutainment (Reaching Intelligent Souls Everywhere) to provide youth with inclusive and safe platforms across the GTA to creatively express themselves through the performing arts. It became an important outlet for many who had endured negative situations in their lives. The popularity of R.I.S.E. led to significant notoriety for Adjei, leading to accolades that have included CBC’s Torontonian of the Year in 2015, NOW Magazine’s May 2017 Local Hero, and The Black Canadians Awards Best Spoken Word Award winner in 2014. In 2018, R.I.S.E. was also awarded the Mayor’s Youth Award by Toronto Arts Foundation, Toronto’s city-wide charity for the arts. Randell has performed across the globe and in support of high-profile figures such as President Barack Obama, Terry Crews, Paul Mooney, Kardinal Offishall, and Toronto Mayor John Tory. A member of the League of Canadian Poets, he published his first anthology I Am Not My Struggles in 2018 and was co-author of Knew Me: 10 Men 10 Stories of Perseverance published in 2019. Randell ambitions as Poet Laureate include creating more social networking opportunities for poets across Ontario; connecting with various regions across the province to host events; facilitating workshops and performing poetry; linking Ontario’s diverse communities by weaving poetic stories; working with regional school boards to encourage more creative writing in the classroom; and attending meetings or events to advocate for poetry and the spoken word.
Victoria Butler is a writer, and the current Poet Laureate for the City of Barrie (2018-2022). She is the first woman to carry the title. She is do-founded and editor-in-chief of The Northern Appeal, a biannual, not-for-profit, literary journal that publishes work by creatives in Simcoe County and Muskoka. She is currently completing her Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing at the University of Toronto. Her first book, Little Miracles, is being published with Black Moss Press in September 2021. Butler lives with her cat, Zelda, and too many candles.