• 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

  • 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.

  • Paintings

    Poem Paintings

    Over the break I started playing with acrylic paints to create paintings as though they were poems. I had just finished reading Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art by  Stephen Nachmanovitch and was inspired to improvise more often. I wanted to show up to the canvas and paint a poem without words. I gave myself permission to paint things I didn’t know how to draw. And then using the paintings, I’ve started writing poems.

    Poem Painting Collection #1: In Transition

    In the Fields
    Being Seen
    In Transition
    Beginnings
  • Georgian Bay Roots

    What the Bay Saw: Poetry and Photography Video

    Even though we knew this project was happening, it caught us by surprise this summer to see the new wind farm at Henvey Inlet First Nation. I’ve spent my summers among these islands my whole life. Our family picnics were in this area. The photo at the top of this post is taken just across the water from the lighthouse where my grandfather lived as a child.

  • Love & Energy Spiral

    Thanksgiving

    sun lights red maple
    glowing warmth
    and memory
    summer afternoons gone
     
    crisp breath talks
    to fallen leaves
    collected as treasures
    upon our table
     
    thank-you trees
    and sun and time
     
    children like sunflowers
    energy spirals
    and mindfulness
    winter mornings near
     
    bright appetites linger
    family’s feasting
    savoured as love
    captured in our portrait
     
    thank-you home
    and food and this.

    © Jessica Outram