Drew Dilkens standing in front of classroomWindsor mayor Drew Dilkens met Monday with students in Marty Gervais’ editing and publishing practicum.

Planned publications on local communities excite Windsor mayor

Windsor mayor Drew Dilkens says he is inspired by the enthusiasm of students in Marty Gervais’ editing and publishing practicum.

“I felt their passion for Windsor history, and I share that passion,” Dilkens said Monday after visiting the class to learn about its current project: poetry collections reflecting communities of Windsor and Amherstburg. “It’s so great when you hear a group of people working on something positive.”

The course engages students in producing books that are published by Black Moss Press, Gervais said.

“They get a new manuscript in September and it’s their job to sort through the material, work with the author, and because they run into difficulties, they learn,” he said.

This year’s class is working on two publications: one that saw 13 poets write about the city’s 10 municipal wards, and one collecting works by six writers who visited the town of Amherstburg.

Third-year English major Christian Wilkinson explained that the Windsor volume draws its title, “Where the map begins,” from a submission by professor Andre Narbonne.

“These poems translate the identity of Windsor much the way that you can look at a map,” Wilkinson said.

Meg Mooney is working on the Amherstburg book, and said the process has proven very educational.

“As a writer myself, I have found it interesting being on the opposite side for once,” she said. “The detail that goes into editing — you can spend hours trying to figure out what words work.”

And as someone raised in the digital age, she enjoyed a more tactile approach championed by her instructors.

“It’s the physicality of it,” Mooney said. “We printed out the poems, laid them all out to sort through them, used sticky notes to append information — I’m learning a lot in this class.”

Gervais praised Dilkens for taking an interest in the projects: “We have a mayor in this city who is dedicated to the arts,” he told the students.

For his part, Dilkens said he is looking forward to reading the resulting books on their release in April.

“I love the stories about Windsor.”