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 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
Inspired By Our Lake
One of my favourite features of Cobourg is its proximity to Lake Ontario. It shines in every season. Whether I am walking along the beach or visiting a friend near Monk’s Cove or walking the trail near my place, the lake always captures my attention.
This month I invite you to bundle up in your warmest gear or park somewhere with a view and spend some time with the lake. What do you notice? How does the light look? In what ways does the water move? Where does the ice gather? Do you see any wildlife? What is your memory of this place in other seasons?
How could you capture the spirit of Lake Ontario in a poem?
Or maybe the history of the buildings and life along the lake interests you. Click here to read some Cobourg history. Or maybe you want to explore some of the social justice issues the lake inspires. Begin with the lake and see where it leads you.
Last year we started the tradition of publishing an eChapbook to celebrate Earth Day and National Poetry Month. This tradition will continue in 2021. This will be a free PDF collection that will be distributed via email, social media, and posted on this blog.
The focus of the collection is on learning from the Earth.
What does the landscape teach you? What do you learn from water? How has your relationship changed with trees? What lessons are found in the elements or encounters with animals?
What do we need to learn about climate change? How can we live lightly?
Nature has so much to teach us. Let’s capture our lessons and our questions.
What is Poetry Invites?
Cobourg is a dynamic town filled with landscapes, people, and places that inspire. Let’s use our town to inspire poetry we can share!
Encouraging others to create is an important part of my mission as Poet Laureate. The goal of Poetry Invites is to invite anyone who is interested (from here or anywhere) to write poetry inspired by our town.
Poetry is good medicine! All the prompts will be easy to access safely while we navigate our way through COVID-19 protocols. Most prompts will be outdoors or utilize online resources. The prompts will be an invitation to reflect on a theme, a place, or idea. You can write the poem in any form you choose!
Let’s join together and write in community! Engage in the prompts, share your poems, and then read the poems of others!