Windsor’s Poets Laureate Present New Collection
“Walk in the Woods: Portrait of the Ojibway Prairie Complex”
City of Windsor Poet Laureate Emeritus Marty Gervais, Poet Laureate Mary Ann Mulhern, and Youth Poet Laureate Alexei Ungurenaşu have collaborated on a new book of poetry and photography celebrating Windsor’s natural oasis, the Ojibway Prairie Complex.
Walk in the Woods: Portrait of the Ojibway Prairie Complex is an adventure about going out on the best and the worst days of the year and taking a walk in the jigsaw puzzle of the wetlands, forest, savanna, and prairie areas that hug the near edges of Windsor, Ontario. From the back cover of the book: “It’s a place that some older residents still call Yawkey Bush. It’s a gem that caught the attention of the legendary environmental activist David Suzuki who said Ojibway was a ‘priceless ... tiny pocket of nature that reminds us, perhaps, of what once was and what could be ...’ With that in mind, Marty Gervais, Windsor’s poet laureate emeritus, explores this ‘tiny pocket’ and spent most of the COVID-19 pandemic walking and carrying a camera nearly every day into the far reaches of Ojibway, Black Oak, the Tall Grass and Ojibway Shores. His photographs are a diary of that journey ... to celebrate this rich environmental treasure in southwestern Ontario.”
Walk in the Woods: Portrait of the Ojibway Prairie Complex is available for purchase at www.BlackMossPress.com and will soon be available at the gift shop at Museum Windsor’s Chimczuk Museum. The book will also be available at the Ojibway Nature Centre once the facility has reopened to the public. The collection includes a preface from 2021 nominee for the Governor General’s Award for Fiction, G.A. Grisenthwaite, and an afterword by author and photographer Douglas MacLellan who curated Gervais’ stunning photos that appear throughout the collection.
The book is third in the South Shore Collections series through Windsor’s poet laureate program. These books help capture, preserve and share Windsor’s stories with the community – one of the primary goals of the poet laureate program.
Other Books in the South Shore Collections Series
Because We Have All Lived Here (2017) celebrated Windsor’s 125th anniversary, along with the 150th anniversary for Canada and Ontario. Within its pages, a “Group of Seven Poets” honoured the five towns on the south shore of the Detroit River as it flows from Lake St. Clair to Lake Erie, or as we read from Sandwich through Riverside. The project looked at what meanings poets might make of a city when the city in question is their home. Windsor’s poets combined their individual voices into a chorus in a true study of belonging. The collection became part of the 2017 Random Acts of Poetry initiative that saw the seven poets going out into the community conducting readings in various spaces, and gifting copies of the book to people all across the city.
A Dance of Self-Isolation: Covid Poems From the Biggest Little City in Canada (2020) included poems written by the poets laureate reflecting on and capturing the impact of the pandemic, as well as the hopes, dreams, challenges, triumphs and fears of an entire community navigating lockdown and the first glimpses of recovery. A virtual launch was held to mark the one-year anniversary of the first recorded case of COVID-19 in Windsor-Essex, with complimentary copies given to all long-term care homes, hospitals and first responder sites, and all branches of the Windsor Public Library.
All three collections are available for purchase through www.BlackMossPress.com. These collections are presented through the City of Windsor’s poet laureate program, and, on occasion, through partnerships with community institutions and organizations.
“I ventured out daily, marvelling at a world I had never really known. I carried a camera. I photographed and documented what I was experiencing. Mostly, I walked alone. I went out when it was misty, overcast, and when it was sunny, and I never missed a snowy day ... It was a walk of meditation, reflection, gratitude, and it was a walk about learning what I was seeing.”
– Marty Gervais, Windsor’s Poet Laureate Emeritus
“I believe trees can communicate with each other, and, with us. When I walk in Ojibway, I love to be in the company of trees, to feel their welcome. Birdsong cheers me along pathways of peace. I always hope to encounter a deer hungry enough to eat an apple from my hand.”
– Mary Ann Mulhern, Windsor’s Poet Laureate
“Ojibway Prairie Complex has incredible beauty and a great diversity of life, but it is also home to endangered habitats and at-risk species. With less than 1% of tallgrass prairie remaining in Ontario, this original piece of nature is priceless and irreplaceable, and even unintentional misuse may cause irreparable damage. It is our collective and shared responsibility to protect, respect and cherish this significant and sensitive area.”
– Karen Cedar, City of Windsor’s Naturalist & Outreach Coordinator
For more information and details, visit www.CityWindsor.ca.