Poet Laureate of Cobourg
These posts include poetry written for occasions in my role as Poet Laureate and some of the related projects and events.
Inspired By Our Food, Farms, and Eateries
When I moved to Cobourg over ten years ago, it was the food that surprised me most. We live in a delicious region!
Write a poem for Cobourg Present, our evolving eChapbook.
This month you are invited to write a poem about food. What inspires you about the food of Cobourg and Northumberland?
Food is central to how we express our culture. Food becomes part of traditions and celebrations. We are lucky to live in a region that is filled with people who are passionate about good food.
Maybe you want to write about a local business or a trip to the Farmer’s Market (which opens in a week!) Or maybe you want to write about a memorable meal shared with friends. Perhaps it’s the beautiful farmland that inspires you or picking apples at one of our local orchards.
Let’s celebrate the most delicious parts of life here!
You are also welcome to revisit a prompt from an earlier month and submit a poem at any time. Click here to see the archive of prompts.
Happy Earth Day!
It was such a joy to put together this eChapbook featuring poetry and images for Earth Day 2021. Each year celebrating Earth Day feels more vital. We are blessed to live on such a beautiful, abundant planet. On Earth Day we express our gratitude and we renew our commitment to care for our Earth. This eChapbook is a collection of poetry and images exploring the theme: Lessons from the Earth.
We can learn something new every day when we pay attention. Thank-you so much to the contributors for generously sharing their talents. Thank-you to our readers for giving your time to reflect on the environment.
With this project, we also celebrate National Poetry Month.
Watch some of the contributors read their work!
Inspired By Our Friends, Family, and Neighbours
This month we focus our poetry on writing about the people in our community. Who inspires you? It can be someone you know well or someone you secretly admire.
Write a poem for Cobourg Present, our evolving eChapbook. Based on the recent news headlines it looks like we are facing another lockdown. We miss our gatherings. Let’s connect to our common humanity and the heart of our community through poetry.
Inspired by What Brings Us Joy
This month we aim to capture what brings us joy in Cobourg. It could be a person, place, moment in time, or community group: you choose! What do you love about living here or visiting here? Why do you choose Cobourg?
Share your joy with others by writing a poem for Cobourg Present, our evolving eChapbook. It’s been a long winter. As we move into Spring, let’s focus on gratitude for the good things and invite others to see Cobourg through our eyes.
It began as a weekly Poetry Present delivered to your inbox. We continue to connect as a community in that way. Poets who share a connection to Cobourg and the surrounding area submit poems.
After nearly two years of this project, it was time to expand. Poetry Invites was introduced in January 2021. This invites all poets from anywhere to be inspired by our town and the things we value here. Each month a new prompt is emailed to our Poetry Present list.
Cobourg Present launched on February 1, 2021 and is the product of the monthly prompts. It will continue to grow throughout the year so be sure to check this link each month.
Inspired by Local History or a Childhood Memory
I’m always fascinated by the stories of a place and how a town has changed over time. We are lucky to have a rich history in Cobourg. In my own family history research, I have found connections to a Métis ancestor who travelled to Cobourg on the waterways as a guide for Anna Bronwell Jameson (documented in her book Winter Studies and Summer Rambles in Canada). She writes about her interpreter old Solomon and her travels along the waterways, including a trip to Cobourg. I also read that Solomon attended school in Cobourg in the mid-1800s even though his family lived in Penetanguishene at the time. How does your family history connect with Cobourg?
In more recent history, my dad likes to tell me about the time his family went camping at the trailer park by the Cobourg Beach when he was a child. What would your parents tell you about what Cobourg was like when they were kids? Or when you were a child?
You can watch me read my 2021 New Year’s Day poem for the Mayor’s Levee launched in the Virtual Levee.
The River Under the Road
under the road flows a river
always moving in one direction
even when we forget it’s there
the current, like a heartbeat
presses on just the same
all of us home
maybe a white door
leads to a road lined
with coffees like warm luminaries
inviting friends, new and old
to join in community
maybe a yellow window
opens to a road lined
with clocks like adored toys
welcoming family, then and now
to join in relationship
maybe a red wall
hides a road lined
with canaries like lost choirs
carrying news, mine and yours
to join in song
maybe a black floor
covers a road lined
with candles like joyful children
shining hope, peace and love
to join in light
under the road flows a river—
we make the road
by redefining its lines
always rebuilding our homes
along our road together
By Jessica Outram
Written for January 1, 2021
Mayor’s New Year’s Levee