Poetry goes beyond the written word, says UWindsor student Chidera Ikewibe, appointed to serve a two-year term as youth poet laureate for the City of Windsor.
“I believe that poetry goes beyond the written word and can be accessed through drawing, painting, and singing to engage fellow youths and allow them to see themselves in sectors they are often under-represented,” says Ikewibe, who is studying psychology and creative writing.
Her areas of interest as an artist include race and ethnicity, anti-Black racism, institutional decolonization, poetry as performance, spoken-word radio, Black diaspora, playwriting, mask making, and mixed media. Her works often incorporate nsibidi — a pictographic writing system from southeastern Nigeria and southwestern Cameroon, reflecting her Igbo heritage.
Ikewibe has served as a collage poetry instructor with Art Windsor-Essex, host on campus community radio CJAM, and a poetry instructor for Youth Wellness Hub Windsor.
As youth poet laureate, Ikewibe looks forward to serving as an ambassador for the literary arts by incorporating poetry and writing into spaces where they may not be expected — including radio. She plans to use her platform to help showcase artists and their work to the broader community, and sees her role as an opportunity to engage newcomers to Canada.
“I want to connect with our multicultural youth and encourage them to explore themselves and their cultural identity through poetry, through workshops and programs, and new opportunities,” Ikewibe says.
Mayor Drew Dilkens welcomed Ikewibe to her new position.
“I trust that she will help this program continue to positively impact our community, in Windsor and beyond our borders,” he said. “The city’s poet laureate and storytellers program continues to help us record and share the stories that shape our city while teaching us the value of unique voices and new perspectives.”
Besides Ikewibe, the program currently features poet laureate emeritus and UWindsor resident writing professional Marty Gervais, poet laureate and alumnus Peter Hrastovec (BA 1979, LLB 1982), Indigenous storyteller Theresa Sims, and multicultural community storyteller Teajai Travis.