Winnipeg Arts Council

Chimwemwe Undi to be Winnipeg Poet Laureate for 2023 and 2024.

Chim stares directly at the camera with a slight smile to her closed lips. She is wearing a blue button-down shirt and an oversized navy blue blazer. She stands in front of a wall that has its bricks painted blue and purple with the image of a mural.

Photo by: Ebunolowa Akinbo

The Winnipeg Arts Council has announced that Chimwemwe (Chim) Undi has been selected by a panel of the city’s literary experts to serve as the Winnipeg Poet Laureate for 2023 and 2024. The Poet Laureate creates work that reflects the life of the city, commemorates official functions, and develops their own body of writing and performance.

Chim is a poet, performer and editor from Winnipeg whose work has been published in Prairie Fire, CV2 Magazine, Border Crossings, The Walrus, and more. Actively involved in the arts all her life, she was co-founder of the Voices, Ink. Youth Poetry Slam and has been named as one of CBC Manitoba’s Future 40. She won the John Hirsch Award at the 2022 Manitoba Book Awards and her writing has been featured as part of exhibitions at the Winnipeg Art Gallery and the University of Winnipeg’s Gallery 1C03. She has performed at festivals all over Canada as well as at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. And if that wasn’t enough, Chim is also a lawyer who practices professional regulation, labour, employment and intellectual property law.

       “I am honored to be Winnipeg Poet Laureate,” says Undi, “Winnipeg’s arts community has welcomed, encouraged, and inspired me since I began writing and performing poetry as a teenager. In this position, I hope to amplify and advocate for that community, and to encourage more people to read and write themselves into those spaces.

         I do not think my practice would be possible anywhere but here, in this city, where being an artist puts you in conversation instead of into a box. That said, we have so much work to do, and to learn, to make sure voices that have been silenced for too long are heard and heeded.

         I look forward to working with all Winnipeggers to celebrate the power of words to help us be the people and the city that we want to be.”

Chim will step into the role replacing Duncan Mercredi, who has been Poet Laureate since 2020. Winnipeg Arts Council Executive Director Carol A. Phillips expressed her appreciation for his work and welcomed Chim as his successor.

“Duncan has made an incredible contribution to the city’s literary landscape over the past few years. He is an artist of the highest caliber and his work has challenged us all to think about how we perceive Winnipeg. We are grateful for all that he has done and we look forward to starting a new chapter with Chim. She is an incredible source of energy and artistry, and we are pleased that she has been selected to be the city’s Poet Laureate.”

Chimwemwe Undi will serve as Winnipeg Poet Laureate for 2023 and 2024.

Find out more about the previous Winnipeg Poet Laureates