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.

  • Poet Laureate of Cobourg

    The River Under the Road

    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
    carrying everything
    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
    Cobourg, ON

  • Poetry Invites

    Poetry Invites January

    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.

    Read more about the Poetry Invites Project and about how to submit a poem to our eChapbook.

  • Poet Laureate of Cobourg

    Earth Day: Call for Submissions 2021

    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.

  • Poet Laureate of Cobourg

    Poetry Invites: Inspired by Cobourg

    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!

  • Poet Laureate of Cobourg

    Poem for the 60th Anniversary of the Art Gallery of Northumberland

    The gifts of our regional art gallery include the opportunities for community engagement, the experience of stepping into a transformative space, the immersion of the self into each piece of art, and the escape into the swirling energy of creativity.

    The Art Gallery of Northumberland’s collection has grown over time and reminds us that what we see in the art changes as we change. The gallery offers the community a shared experience in our cultural heritage and embraces abundance through its ability to stand still while it continues to grow.

    I was thrilled to be invited to write a poem to celebrate the AGN’s 60th Anniversary. What an honour to be included in the exhibit too!

  • Poet Laureate of Cobourg

    Our Canoe: A Poem for Canada Day 2020

    So much has changed since our last Canada Day.

    Our town has large Canada Day traditions with a parade, festivals, fireworks, live music, delicious food. We invite anyone to join us. Our beach, parks and streets are packed with thousands of people. Last year I read a new poem at Victoria Hall. It is a tradition for the Poet Laureate to share a poem on Canada Day in Cobourg.

    This Canada Day 2020 is quiet. Reflective. Today I feel grateful for a town and a country that so far have done everything they could to keep me safe during the COVID-19 outbreak. Thank-you! Watching the virus spread across the planet and witnessing how governments respond, support, or protect their people has helped to shine a light on our own communities. I feel blessed.

    Since March I’ve thought about my about my ancestors more, wondering what they would think of our world today. Since we can’t come together as a country or a community in the same way this year, I decided to celebrate with all my grandmothers and grandfathers. This Canada Day I want to acknowledge my Métis and Anishinaabe ancestors alongside other Indigenous, Métis, and Inuit peoples of Canada.

  • Poet Laureate of Cobourg

    Poetry Walk Gallery

    Isolation has helped me to see more clearly what’s important to me. I walk every day. I always see something different. Here are some of the images and words I’ve collected on my neighbourhood #poetrywalk since March 2020. Poetry is everywhere.

    Follow me on social media for more!

    Explore Cobourg as a poet and share your discoveries using #poetrywalk.