to Cobourg Town Council
anarchistic side of poetry challenges all to listen to
what is difficult, meditate upon that which we don't understand
and respect that mystery is at the very centre of our
comfort side of poetry reminds us that what is truly important
in this world is love and friendship, the rewards of following
our bliss, and the endless surprise that greets one when
you walk through the door of creativity.
role of poetry irrespective of its method of delivery
- the words in books, the scribbling on walls, the spoken
word of language gymnasts - is to speak to the human condition
in all its complexity.
speak in many tongues which at times can seem as varied
as the number of speakers. Because mystery is at the heart
of existence and therefore is at the heart poetry, sometimes
even poets don't understand what they are saying. This
shouldn't alarum us. Poetry like science, it is a door
you open to experience wonder.
pushes aside our daily concerns and existential distractions
and puts centre stage - the fact that we are in the centre
of something quite magical, at times painful sometimes
terrifying yet deeply compelling.
health of a town is not solely measured in the condition
of its sidewalks, the number of its pleasure craft or
the perkiness of its slogans. Cultural health - while
not as fundamental to physical health as the condition
of a town's sanitary system - is an indication of mental
minds solve problems and improve themselves, their families
and those around them. Healthy minds recognize, without
condition, that creativity, play and the slogan "none
of us is as smart and strong as all of us" are all
role of the Poet Laureate within the public sphere, I
believe, should surprise, entertain, explain, remember,
enchant, indeed, challenge the community.
is not an eccentric addition, a bullet point in a secondary
list of cultural attractions, nor is it a forgotten language.
Its presence and strength in the community indicates a
town's cultural blood flow.
am pleased to say Cobourg's red blood count is quite good:
(see the "Cobourg Poetry Fact Sheet" below).
stand in the long shadow of Cobourg's first Poet Laureate
Eric Winter. A man with a voice, a demeanour, an intelligence
so enviable, so well aged, he has but to read a menu and
women swoon. Cobourg's second Poet Laureate, Jill Battson,
displaying more brain cells than a super computer, proved
that the challenge was on. Her short tenure is a disappointment.
my appointment I wish to disarm you immediately and alert
you that Dr. Seuss is definitely in the house. A sense
of play and fun is afoot. But equally, let me bring you
close and tell you poetry is the true language of our
humanity, the plaintive call of human souls accepting
their final separateness. But it is also a communal murmur
of satisfaction with the joys of physical being. And overwhelming,
it is a call for true contact between us all.
nothing, not wealth, education, status, opinion, indeed,
even a lack of understanding stand between you and the
person beside you. We all share in the bounty of our being
when we speak. Language is for sharing, as is poetry.
The price of the game is simply the energy of our words
and our attention.
worship - standing in the shower, you, with some soap
suds, and no one listening - you have only to open your
mouth gargle some words in ways you have never heard before
that make you laugh or cry and you, too, will be taking
your first steps toward becoming a poet.
closing, don't let my personal branding distract you.
I stand before you a representative of all that is poetic
in Cobourg and wish you wonder-filled days, bright with
caring resonance yet deeply respectful of the mystery
into which we have been born.
October 3, 2011
Poetry Facts: by Ted Amsden
90 poets a year read in Cobourg.
- over 900 poems are shared with public audiences.
- the Cobourg Poetry Workshop, a gathering of poets and
word smiths gather twice
during the month to conduct a workshop and to provide
free public readings for the citizens of Cobourg.
- James Pickersgill's colourful little folded packets
of poetry under the masthead of - Poetry'zown - during
the past 2 years and 9 months has published almost 1,000
- because of this strength and display of interest other
organizations and individuals are stepping forward locally
to promote literary events in town.
- Cobourg is reaching a critical mass, the outside world
wants to be part of events happening here: well known
poets and their publishing houses are requesting the privilege
of launching their books here: national Poets Laureate
and others of international stature want to read in Cobourg.
- my list does not include what is going on in the schools:
teachers such as James Martin at CDCI West actively promote
poetry beyond the demands of the curriculum.