Marty Gervais, Windsor’s Poet Laureate
Marty Gervais is an award winning journalist, photographer, poet, playwright, historian, editor and teacher. He is founder and co-owner of Black Moss Press. And today it was announced that Gervais has accepted a two-year term as Windsor’s first Poet Laureate. “This is a huge gesture confirming that the arts really matter in Windsor”, he asserts. He credits Councillor Jo-Anne Gignac with the foresight to initiate the position.
Chatham-Kent has already experienced Gervais’ work. Earlier this year he took part in An Evening of Poetry with John B. Lee and Friends at Highgate’s Mary Webb Centre. His poems captured episodes in his personal life told with insight and humour.
Gervais is an appropriate choice for the prestigious position – not just because he is a talented writer of poetry and prose (he has written more than a dozen poetry books, two plays, several best selling books including “The Rumrunners” and a novella) but because he is an enthusiastic supporter of other authors. He earned the Milton Acorn People’s Poetry Award created by a group of poets to honour their fellow writers “whose work can truly be said to speak to the ordinary citizen”. He is also holder of the Harbourfront Festival Prize for contributions to Canadian letters – an award which is based partly on the nurturing of the next generation of literary talent.
As founder and co-owner of Black Moss Press, Gervais continues to mentor and promote other writers and poets. In his guise as Resident Writing Professional at University of Windsor, Gervais holds an open – and free – “writing salon” every second Monday to which anyone may bring their writing for a professional critique by Gervais or other writers.
Gervais intends to use his position as Windsor’s “Literary Ambassador” to continue not only to create new works – like a true journalist he thrives on deadlines – but also to encourage work by other writers. He will create a blog on which anyone can post his or her work. He also plans to invite Poet Laureates from other Canadian cities to come to Windsor for a Poet Laureates’ Reading event.
Reaching out to both elementary and high schools will also be part of his mission.
Gervais looks forward to celebrating Windsor – the city where he was born and grew up – with regular poems about the life of the city and lives of its inhabitants. Expect works about the War of 1812 as southwestern Ontario commemorates the 200th anniversary of a significant event in Canada’s history. Watch for insights into Gervais’ personal life. Celebrate Windsor with its new Poet Laureate.
Perhaps Chatham-Kent will consider naming our own Poet Laureate – to show that here too “the arts really matter”.
By Marlee Robinson