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Cobourg rises to the poetry challenge

Cecilia Nasmith

By Cecilia Nasmith, Northumberland Today


Thanks to poet laureate Ted Amsden, the Town of Cobourg never has to back down from a poetry challenge.

Amsden was at this week's council meeting to accept the Mayor's Poetry City Challenge, issued by Mayor Michael Fougere of Regina, who challenged town and cities across Canada to open a council meeting with a reading by a local poet in honour of UNESCO's World Poetry Day on March 21 and National Poetry Month in April.

Amsden defended the town's honour with a brief but touching poem about his daughter Chloe called The Couch (inspired by a glimpse of her enjoying a catnap on the couch in his home before returning to England to join her husband, and his realization of how long it might be before she was back on that couch).

Carol Anne Bell-Smith then took the microphone to let council know of the upcoming Cobourg Festival of Poetry 4.

Four days of activity will begin April 18 with poetry by local students and continue April 19 with a poetry-in-the-schools program, followed by an exciting gala at the Art Gallery of Northumberland that features renowned Canadian author Jane Urquhart. Readings and meet-the-author events continue April 20 and 21 at the gallery and at Meet at 66 King East, Bell-Smith said, and the festivities include five book launches (including that of her own book called Sleeping Naked).

The poets are among Canada's best, she declared, and the festival would be the envy of someone who lived in Toronto.

“That's how good it is,” Bell-Smith said.

She is also excited about using the Art Gallery of Northumberland as a venue for the first time.

“This festival is entirely not funded. We have had to fundraise for every dime of it,” she told council.

“We ask for your moral support.”

“It sounds like a winner, and the Art Gallery, I am sure, will be an ideal venue,” Deputy Mayor Stan Frost commented.

Tickets are available at the Victoria Hall Concert Hall box office and at Meet at 66 King East. A weekend pass that covers all events is $50.

Councillor Miriam Mutton followed her presentation by offering a motion to declare April National Poetry Month in Cobourg, and to declare April 18 to 21 Cobourg Poetry Week. The motion passed unanimously.

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