City of Windsor Appoints Next Poet Laureate
The City of Windsor is proud to announce Peter Hrastovec as the next Poet Laureate serving in the City’s Poet Laureate & Storytellers program. Hrastovec will serve in the position from 2023 to approximately 2027.
Hrastovec was born in Windsor, where he built his career and raised his family. He describes himself as a proud Canadian, and the son of immigrants. A published poet and performing artist in local theatre, Hrastovec is also a practising lawyer. His work, hobbies, and community outreach have provided the life experiences that have been fodder for his writing and various leadership roles. He has experience as a sessional instructor with the University of Windsor’s Faculty of Law, and as an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Detroit Mercy. He received his Honours Secondary School Graduation Diploma from Assumption College School, and obtained both his Bachelor of Laws, LL.B., and Bachelor of Arts – English, Language and Literature from the University of Windsor.
Hrastovec’s extensive community engagement roles include serving as past president, past director and member of the Past-Presidents Advisory Committee with the Windsor Symphony Orchestra; and past president and director of the University of Windsor’s Alumni Association. He has worked with the Windsor Regional Cancer Centre (chair, Dream Weaver Campaign); Rotary Club of Windsor - 1918 (past president, director, and continuing member); Windsor & District Chamber of Commerce (past chair and board member); United Way (campaign chair, Annual Fund); Arts Council Windsor & Region (past member of the board of directors); Capitol Theatre (member of the operation steering committee); Literary Arts Windsor (current board member); and the Advocates’ Society (past member of the board). Hrastovec was chair of the Great Canadian Flag Project at Dieppe Gardens, and has served as a volunteer juror for the City’s Arts, Culture & Heritage Fund (ACHF) grant program (2018 to 2019).
For his extensive work with these community organizations, Hrastovec has received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce (2016); was a co-honouree, along with his spouse Denise, at the Jewish National Fund Negev Dinner (2013); and received the Law Society Medal from the Law Society of Upper Canada (2009).
Hrastovec’s poems have appeared in three solo volumes of work: In Lieu of Flowers (2012), Sidelines (2015), and There Will Be Fish (2022), all published by Black Moss Press. His work about the city of Windsor and surrounding region has also appeared in the anthology Because We Have All Lived Here (2017), and the upcoming 2023 release In The Middle Space – Windsor’s Public Art (2023). Hrastovec also works to organize and participate in community poetry readings, including at area schools. In 2021, he was part of the organizing committee for the Windsor’s Resilient Voices campaign that placed poems by local poets inside City buses and on the walls of mass vaccination centres and city hospitals to bring messages of hope during the pandemic.
As poet laureate, Hrastovec looks forward to reaching out to new and seasoned writers, inviting them to celebrate the city with their words and actions. He is focused on connecting poets, writers and storytellers with musicians, visual artists, and theatre groups to create new synergies that will help to continue to tell Windsor’s stories. These stories will include the city’s history, its social consciousness, its labour and work ethic, the dynamics of its health and education infrastructure, and the marriage of its beautiful landscapes with its striking art and architecture. He plans to combine spoken word with performing songwriters/musicians and gifted visual artists, and reach out to the Windsor Symphony Orchestra, Art Windsor-Essex (AWE), the Chimczuk Museum and other community museums, the University of Windsor, St. Clair College, and area school boards to create collaborations of artistic disciplines that will stimulate and invigorate the community. Hrastovec’s application to serve as poet laureate came with support letters from Jennifer Jones, President, Rotary International (2022 to 2023); from Christopher Waters, Past Dean (2015 to 2021) of the Faculty of Law at the University of Windsor; and from Barrie’s former Poet Laureate Bruce Meyer.
The selection committee members tasked with choosing the new Poet Laureate said:
“Peter Hrastovec has solid evidence of local outreach and event experience, and has a proven track record as a supporter of the program in many instances.”
“Peter is a community-champion, through and through. He is also a community-builder, with a strong and positive voice for all things connected to the arts in the city of Windsor. He has been a strong supporter of the program from day one, hosting events and participating in poetry anthologies... this is a perfect fit.”
“As Windsor’s next poet laureate, I will focus on the beauty of our diversity, the integration and celebration of our multicultural heritage that is as profound as it is endearing. The many voices of our people from all over this planet can be heard as if in a chorus. In this role, I want to be a touchstone to the city’s soul, to help guide and educate our citizenry as well as elevate and promote all the elements that inspire our daily lives. It is here that I learned to ‘give back’ – to contribute and make this place welcoming to others, a place where we celebrate our history and where we build on our successes. Here, we nurture and support talent and revel in an international border – a ribbon of friendship – that is an unparalleled wonder that opens opportunity for all of us. Like the very river within our reach, this city endures; we are obliged to celebrate its glory. I would very much like to play a part in contributing to our continuing ‘work in progress’ – my home, my heart.”
- Peter Hrastovec, City of Windsor Poet Laureate
“The City’s Poet Laureate & Storytellers Program helps to record and share the stories that shape our city while teaching us the value of unique voices and new perspectives. Time and again, we see how this program is a vehicle to increased inclusivity, and a greater understanding and appreciation for our diverse, multicultural community. I was pleased to name Peter Hrastovec a ‘Windsor Community Champion’ last year because of his commitment to our creative community during the pandemic, and I am pleased to welcome him into this important role now. I trust that he will help this program continue to thrive and have a positive impact here in our community, and beyond our borders.”
- Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens
The City of Windsor’s Poet Laureate & Storytellers Program aims to be a model for Canadian communities for what is possible with a truly innovative, responsive, and engaging program to celebrate the literary arts through the written and spoken word. Creators appointed to posts in the program will share stories through poetry, literature, spoken word and oral history, and even music and the performing arts with a wide and appreciative audience, thus strengthening the public’s relationship to the literary arts, storytelling, culture, and heritage. Additionally, those appointed to this program’s roles will serve as ambassadors for the arts and artists in the community. In addition to Hrastovec, the program includes Windsor’s Poet Laureate Emeritus Marty Gervais, Indigenous Storyteller Theresa Sims, and Multicultural Community Storyteller Teajai Travis. Selection of the City’s next Youth Poet Laureate is currently underway, with the next appointee to be announced in the spring of 2023.
For further information, please visit the City of Windsor’s Poet Laureate & Storytellers Program web page.
To learn more about arts, culture and heritage services at the City of Windsor, visit www.CityWindsor.ca or contact 311.
Photo by Ted Kloske, Maple Grove Studios