The City Is Still Red
Sometime in the 1990s (no one remembers exactly when), the Indigenous Writers Collective held a public reading, an event called Red City which featured many of the most prominent Indigenous writers in Winnipeg at the time. Among those who presented on that historic evening was the poet Duncan Mercredi. And now, more than two decades later and as Winnipeg’s Poet Laureate, Mercredi is spearheading the next iteration of this momentous occasion, The City is Still Red.
When Mercredi was named Poet Laureate in March 2020, one of the things he wanted to accomplish was to reignite the Indigenous Writers Collective, which hadn’t gathered since 2014. Mercredi saw his appointment as a perfect avenue to reassemble and expand the group.
And then a week after his appointment, Manitoba registered its first case of Covid-19 and public gatherings disappeared. But the pandemic didn’t stop Mercredi; he has been writing tirelessly for the past 21 months as well as giving talks and visiting schools via Zoom. Though he has gotten used to the virtual tools we’ve all come to rely on, he looks forward to the first in-person event he has been able to host since becoming Poet Laureate.
“We have some great writers that came up together,” says Mercredi, “but there is an amazing number of younger people doing incredible things and telling their stories in new and exciting ways. As much as I wanted to get the old gang back together, I want to help provide a place for the next generation to do their thing. Elizabeth Denny suggested we pay tribute to that event from the 90s while at the same time acknowledging the next generation, so she came up with the name The City is Still Red.”
In addition to Mercredi and Denny, the event features Michael Hutchinson, Tasha Spillett-Sumner, Sadie-Phoenix Lavoie, Hetxw’ms Gyetxw (Brett Huson), Jordan Wheeler, Trevor Greyeyes, Rosanna Deerchild and Katherena Vermette. It is hosted by David McLeod.
The City is Still Red takes place on Tuesday, November 30 at 7:00pm. Location is the West End Cultural Centre, 586 Ellice Avenue. Tickets are not required but masks and proof of double vaccination are mandatory (see the West End’s website for venue policy).
For more information about this free event, Winnipeg’s Poet Laureate or the Winnipeg Arts Council, please visit www.winnipegarts.ca.