The City of Windsor last week announced Alex-Andrei Ungurenasu as its next youth poet laureate through 2023.
Ungurenasu, a fourth-year student in the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences who uses they/them pronouns, succeeds University of Windsor alumna Samantha Badaoa (BA 2018), appointed the inaugural holder of the post in 2019.
A double major in English literature and philosophy, Ungurenasu has found that both disciplines have influenced their writing.
“Philosophy introduced me to a lot of texts and ideas of philosophers,” they say. “Every semester I would say my writing changes and reflects the material that I’m engaging with.”
Philosophy in general has given Ungurenasu the tools to look at things from different perspectives.
“It helps me when writing both poetry and prose, to shift in a way and draw connections between things,” they explain. “I’m pretty sure if I didn’t know philosophical ideas I wouldn’t see these connections.”
And English courses have made an impact: “Since starting university, I’ve been reading more serious literature. I started letting it affect me. I’ve been reading mostly older classic writers.”
Ungurenasu admits they are not as familiar with contemporary writers, but plans to read contemporary poets this summer.
“The courses I’ve taken and the professors who have been teaching them have influenced my train of thought, my technique,” says Ungurenasu. “I’m a huge fan of William Blake. I compare his illuminated prints to modern day zines.”
Ungurenasu has also been involved with a number of extracurricular activities, serving as a student member of the Humanities Research Group’s advisory board and twice qualifying as a finalist in its Why Humanities? contest. They are a teaching assistant for the Effective Writing course, and an undergraduate representative on the philosophy departmental council, helping at recruitment efforts like open houses.
Off-campus, they belong to the Vanguard Youth Arts Collective and have also volunteered and participated at events with Artcite Inc. and the Art Gallery of Windsor.
“I see my role as youth poet laureate as being a resource and mentor for young people and young writers,” says Ungurenasu. “I’d like to do writing workshops — something hands-on — with high school students. I also see it as having a responsibility to be there as an ambassador for young writers and artists in the community.”
Since the appointment, Ungurenasu has been the subject of five news articles, popping up on friends’ social media feeds, a new experience.
“My academic journey has been such a big part of my life, almost a primary part of my life for the past few years. And I would not be here with this position were it not for the courses I’ve taken and the professors who have inspired me,” says Ungurenasu. “I really think we have some stellar faculty and students in the FAHSS.”