Cobourg Appoints Fourth Poet Laureate

At a special meeting today, Cobourg Council appointed a new Poet Laureate, Jessica Outram.  The appointment is effective immediately and expires 30 November 2022.  The first poet to hold this post was Eric Winter (1997 to 2009); he was followed by Jill Battson (2010 – 2011) with Ted Amsden the most recent “Official Town Poet” (2011 – 2018). Adam Bureau is the coordinator for Arts, Culture and Tourism so he moved the motion to appoint her based on the work done by the Poet Laureate Nominating Ad Hoc Committee: In addition to Adam, committee members were Tammy Robinson, CEO of the Cobourg Public Library; Olinda Casimiro, Executive Director of the Art Gallery of Northumberland, Marta Cooper Burt and James Pickersgill. Over 20 nominations were received and after confirming their interest in the position, the committee was left with five highly qualified and talented candidates who completed an application package.

New Poet Laureate
New Poet Laureate

After conducting interviews, the Nominating Committee selected Jessica Outram.  She moved to Cobourg 8 years ago.  In the photo above/right: Mayor John Henderson, Jessica Outram (with the flowers), Councillor Adam Bureau and outgoing Poet Laureate, Ted Amsden.

Adam listed her qualifications:

  • She is a multi-talented individual who writes poetry, memoir, fiction, and blogs, and sings with Safe Harbour.
  • She is the publisher of Sunshine in a Jar Press, The Writing Spiral: Learning as a Writer, Once Upon a Rocking Chair (performed in Cobourg to sold out audiences), From the Cottage Porch: An Anthology, and Songs of Sunshine and Snowflakes: A Poetry Chapbook.
  • She is a member of the Playwrights Guild of Canada and a citizen of the Metis Nation of Ontario.
  • For over twenty (20) years, she has worked as an educator in Ontario in both Elementary and Secondary schools.

She wrote a poem (Being Poetica) for the occasion and read it out at the meeting – you can see a copy of it at her blog here. Judging from her eloquent acceptance speech and first poem, she looks to be a good choice.

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Miriam Mutton
4 years ago

I heard Jessica for the first time at the Council meeting yesterday. A very engaging presenter and awesome storyteller. A first class ambassador for Cobourg who I am sure will connect with people of all ages through her poetry.
And, as I walked into Town Hall I passed a stone marker in one of the gardens skirting Victoria Hall. On it was inscribed a line of verse by Cobourg’s first poet laureate, Eric Winter. What a good idea … retiring poets laureate honoured with a stone marker graced with their poetry in a public garden.