Windsor Mayor, Poets Laureate and Community Leaders
Launch COVID-19 Poetry Collection with Virtual Reading

City of Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens, Poet Laureate Mary Ann Mulhern, Poet Laureate Emeritus Marty Gervais and Youth Poet Laureate Samantha Badaoa are preparing to release their COVID-19 poetry collection, A Dance of Self-Isolation: Covid Poems from the Biggest Little City in Canada, with a virtual book launch.

The online launch will be broadcast Saturday, March 20, 2021 at 7:00 p.m. on YourTV Windsor/Leamington (Cable 11, HD Cable 700), YouTube, and shared on Facebook pages for Mayor Drew Dilkens, the City of Windsor, Museum Windsor, and Black Moss Press. The date was selected to mark the one-year anniversary of the first-recorded case of COVID-19 in Windsor-Essex.

The reading is hosted by Dan MacDonald, host of The Dan MacDonald Show on AM800 CKLW. In addition to the mayor and poets laureate, the guest readers/panelists include:

·       Councillor Jo-Anne Gignac, Windsor City Council;

·       Jelena Payne, Commissioner of Community Development & Health Services, City of Windsor;

·       Anthony Paniccia, Board Chair, Windsor Regional Hospital;

·       Janice Kaffer, President and CEO, Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare; and

·       Bev Becker, Board Chair, United Way/Centraide Windsor-Essex County.

Each panelist will share works from the poets and discuss 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 provides a snapshot of life in our region over the past year. The launch will also include performances from local musicians Nadine Deleury and The Bishop Boys.

About the poetry collection

In the collection, A Dance of Self-Isolation: Covid Poems from the Biggest Little City in Canada, Windsor’s poets laureate and Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens reflect upon and respond to the COVID-19 global pandemic through poetry. The poems capture the impact of the pandemic, as well as the hopes, dreams, challenges, triumphs and fears of a community navigating lockdown and recovery in truly unprecedented times. The collection is published through Windsor’s Black Moss Press, edited by Christopher Lawrence Menard, and features photos by Marty Gervais.

The poets laureate will send complimentary copies of the collection to local long-term care homes, hospitals and first responder sites, and Windsor Public Library branches later in April.

Physical copies of the book will be available for purchase starting April 6, 2021, as part of National Poetry Month, through www.blackmosspress.com. The book sells 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.

Quotes

Mayor Drew Dilkens: “Like all forms of art, poetry has the ability to help us process much of what life throws at us. 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.”

Mary Ann Mulhern, City of Windsor Poet Laureate: “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.”

Marty Gervais, City of Windsor Poet Laureate Emeritus: “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.”

Samantha Badaoa, City of Windsor Youth Poet Laureate: “It has been truly amazing watching young people bounce back. 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.”

Christopher Lawrence Menard, Collection Editor: “Through their poems, our poets reflect on isolation, family, and community successes and struggles. 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.”

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