Poet Laureate of Cobourg

Being Poetica

To celebrate the occasion of becoming Cobourg’s 4th Poet Laureate I wrote a new poem on the weekend. For the last few days I kept seeing a vision of a sketch I made over 25 years ago. It was the word ‘Poetica’ in big colourful bubble letters. It had wings, a vision of living a fully creative life, the arts as a way of being in the world and in the self. 

Then, as I taught many poetry units to high school students, I discovered Archibald MacLeish’s poem, ‘Ars Poetica.’ The last line: “A poem should not mean, But be.” 

‘Being Poetica’ is dedicated to the Cobourg Arts community. Thank-you for being such an inspiration. It is a joy to create with you.

Being Poetica
By Jessica Outram ©
Once upon a doodle,
Poetica emerged.
A wishful bright
arts-infused being,
flying in a dream cloud.
I ached for Poetica,
to soar in its where, what, and how,
longing not just to mean but to be.
Sitting on stone in grey silence for days
writing the spaces between moments until
you joined for gatherings of our energy.
Stories of grandmothers,
canvases of souls,
opuses of youth,
shared for all to stir and dare and wonder.
Then we felt its grace, Poetica
swirling and twirling on the page and in public,
dancing across stage,
sometimes all in white tights or top hats,
always beaming electric relations,
spirited offerings in flight.
We watched lavender
notes lingering on backs of humming
birds bouncing, beating, bubbling,
breathing out story and bathing in song.
Words vibrating
vitality and colour,
As time passed, Poetica seeped into everything.
Sometimes we cried and we held each
other hovering in the frame of the lens and snap,
capturing despair, exposing
portraits of pain to heal. We learned.
Be the truth. Be the love. Be the voice. 
Be the refuge. Be the beauty.
Be the question.
Yet whispering gallery
walls rarely frightened us here.
Watchful eyes we could not, would not escape
sparkled enough hope, echoing and urging all of us
to create and relate. Did you listen too?
We artists, even you. Yes, you. Even me.
Encircled by watercolour flashes,
time glistened with burnt umber,
or worried of cadmium red seeping into
white, as our brushes, truly wands, surrendered
while searching again for a sapphire sword
as we floated on air.
Later, by the lake we found its place:
we realize Poetica—
leaking metaphors from beach to bandshell.
Moved by animated pianos,
purple patches of poetry,
baskets of blossoms hanging
by the frozen bricks of ancestors on traditional lands.
We rise together in symphonic surges,
free and open and constant,
glowing from our hearts in jars,
sustaining and proclaiming poems.
Do you know this being?
Yes, Poetica.

When the town publishes this poem on their website, I will post a link to it here.

The Special Meeting appointing Cobourg’s next Poet Laureate where I read “Being Poetica”

Click here for a story about the event on Cobourg News Blog.

Click here for the link to the Town of Cobourg News.