Winnipeg Arts Council

Winnipeg’s Poet Laureate

Duncan stands outside in front of a pine tree in the snow. He is wearing dark square framed sunglasses, a black jacket, and a dark grey sweater. His grey hair is shoulder length and he is sporting a matching moustache.

Duncan Mercredi is the Winnipeg Poet Laureate through 2022. The Poet Laureate creates work that reflects the life of the city, commemorates official functions, and develops their own body of writing and performance. As Poet Laureate, Mercredi will celebrate poetry and the literary arts in Winnipeg throughout these two years.

Winnipeg Arts Council Executive Director Carol A. Phillips announced his appointment by stating “Duncan Mercredi has spent decades exploring themes of cultural resurgence, of connection to the land, and of the urban Indigenous experience. As Winnipeg’s Poet Laureate, we look forward to his insight, his commentary, and his reflections on our city.”

Duncan is a Cree/Métis poet, writer, and storyteller. A longtime resident of Winnipeg, he was born in Misipawistik (Grand Rapids) and grew up listening to his grandmother’s stories. His affinity for the wilderness and his sensitivity to the deep cultural prejudices of the broader culture inform his writing.

He has published four poetry collections, including Spirit of the Wolf: Raise Your Voice and The Duke of Windsor: Wolf Sings the Blues. His work has appeared in countless anthologies and periodicals including Prairie Fire and CV2, including the special joint issue ndncountry, published in 2018. He has appeared at storytelling and literary festivals across North America and for close to two decades he has been conducting workshops for school children all over Manitoba.

Duncan is currently completing a manuscript entitled this city is red, a series of reflections on the city he calls home. The work was developed through his long-standing membership in Winnipeg’s Indigenous Writers Collective. In March 2021, Wilfrid Laurier University Press released mahikan ka-onot: The Poetry of Duncan Mercredi, a collection spanning from his earliest work to recent unpublished poems.

Duncan was the 2019 writer-in-residence at the University of Manitoba’s Centre for Creative Writing and Oral Culture. In welcoming him to the position, CCWOC Director Warren Cariou said this of Duncan: “His storytelling in the Cree/Métis tradition is incredibly engaging, funny, and profound and his celebrated poetry and fiction writing also builds from the strengths of his storytelling knowledge. Duncan will help us to understand our place, our languages, and ourselves in new ways.”

Fellow Indigenous Writers Collective member, the poet and novelist Katherena Vermette, adds “Duncan has always been this town's poet laureate, really, so it's nice to make it official. He's already done all the work - from his early days as a Main Street poet, his published collections like Dreams of Wolf in the City and The Duke of Windsor, and of course, his many years entertaining and educating students of all ages as a visiting storyteller to schools across this city, province and country. Winnipeg, we are so lucky to have him.”

Duncan Mercredi serves as Winnipeg’s Poet Laureate through 2022.