Marty GervaisMarty Gervais, Windsor’s poet laureate, will bring counterparts from across the province for a public reading Thursday at Willistead Manor. (photo by Donna Gervais)

Poets laureate to gather in a manor of speaking

Poetry is the perfect medium for the 21st century, says UWindsor resident writing professional, Marty Gervais. First appointed Windsor’s poet laureate in 2011, he accepted a renewal of the post through the term of the current council.

“We live in a world where we text, tweet and e-mail,” Gervais says. “We don’t want to spend a lot of time. If I can tell the story of Windsor in a short poem, I am going to inform you and entertain you.”

He took the position with two projects in mind—to highlight stories about the city, and to bring other poets laureate to Windsor.

“I didn’t want to tell the obvious stories, but more unusual ones,” he says, citing poems he has written about a visit to Windsor by Abraham Lincoln before his election to the United States presidency, and the desperate flight of a man mistaken for his assassin.

The third in the “Poetry at the Manor” series, in Willistead Manor on Thursday, November 12, will feature a number of poets laureate from across the province. Besides Gervais, the free public event will include readings by:

  • Terry Burns of Owen Sound,
  • Debbie Okun Hill of Sarnia,
  • John B. Lee of Brantford,
  • Roger Nash of Subury, and
  • Anna Yin of Mississauga.

Gervais will use the occasion to launch several other ventures: a book collecting the poems he has written since his appointment as poet laureate, a series of readings in the Sho Gallery he hopes will introduce new voices, and “River Poets,” a website that will publish poems by young writers.

“People have a stereotypical perspective on poetry,” he says. “I think where poetry is gaining some influence is when people are feeling reflective. To mourn, to commemorate, even to celebrate, we turn to poetry.”