Last October, Council initiated setting up an Ad Hoc Committee to decide on who should be appointed to be the Poet Laureate for the next 4 years. This is needed since Ted Amsden’s 8 year term has expired. Candidates for the citizen position were solicited with four applications received but then nothing happened. This week, Poet Wally Keeler emailed Mayor John Henderson and other councillors asking “Is there a Poet Laureate Ad Hoc Committee?” and adds a comment: “A bit of openness and transparency is called for here, or some action taken.” Others copied on the email were supportive. John Henderson responded and pointed out that the upcoming Committee of the Whole meeting on April 23 has this issue on the agenda.
The position of Poet Laureate was first filled by Eric Winter starting in July, 1997. The most recent appointment was Ted Amsden who has held the position for the last 8 years which means that his term has now expired. Cobourg has an active poetry group and at the recent Civic awards, the Cobourg Poetry Workshop group was awarded a Distinguished Civic Award for the Arts. In the photo at top/right, all but Ted are looking the wrong way – presumably at another photographer. Eric Winter (born in 1923) is standing next to Ted, fourth from left.
The plan is to revise the terms of reference and to increase the number of citizens on the Ad Hoc Committee from one to two. Although the first four applicants will still be considered, advertising will be done again. The committee membership will also be revised and will consist of five members:
- Coordinator of Arts, Culture and Tourism Services (instead of the Mayor)
- CEO of the Cobourg Public Library
- Executive Director/Curator of the Art Gallery of Northumberland
- two (2) members-at-large comprised of any of the following: writers, publishers, book sellers, teachers, librarians, journalists, and/or any member of the public with suitable knowledge of poetry.
The new committee will have 6 weeks to present their recommended appointment to Council and an announcement should be no later than May 31. [That gives them less than 6 weeks!]
The term will be for the 4 years of the term of Council with an option to renew for another 4 years. The maximum is 8 years. Pay is in the form of an annual honorarium of $500. For full details see the Terms of Reference in the link below.
It seems that there is more housekeeping required for Council Committees. At the same time that the Poet Laureate Ad Hoc Committee is being set up, the Downtown Coalition Advisory Committee will be dissolved now that they have submitted a final report (on Feb 19, 2019). That is, their work is complete. (Cobourg News Blog reported on this here). Staff recommend that Council consider the creation of a new Advisory Committee that would address the current void created by the dissolution of both the Economic Development Advisory Committee and the Downtown Coalition Advisory Committee. The new Advisory Committee would have a “centralized focus on the downtown and overall economic development of the Town.”
Update – 24 April 2019
At the Committee of the Whole meeting on April 23, Council changed the required announcement date from May 31 to March 31. Since that date has now passed in 2019, it will only affect the next time it happens – 2023?