Role of Fredericton's poet laureate still undecided

·2 min read

The new role of Fredericton's poet laureate is still undecided.

After a lengthy discussion council defeated a motion 6-5 that would have seen the role changed slightly, allowing the poet to not read at every council meeting and requiring four to six original poems.

Instead, council sent the issue back to the livable communities committee for further consideration.

"This is a clear case of much to do about nothing or almost nothing, really," said Coun. Stephen Chase.

"I think the main issues for me are getting the cultural laureate that has original material and also engages the community. And I don't mind paying a bit more for those things."

Chase, Stephen Hicks, Kevin Darrah, Bruce Grandy and Dan Keenan voted for the motion.

"I didn't think that the scope was appropriate," said Coun. John MacDermid, who voted the motion down, along with Kate Rogers, Greg Ericson, Henri Mallet, Eric Price and Eric Megarity.

"And in light of that, that subsequently the compensation was inappropriate," said MacDermid. "I felt that there was an opportunity for there to be more engagement between the poet laureate and council."

The poet laureate receives $3,000 a year for two years, several councillors questioned whether that was appropriate compensation.

Jenna Lyn Albert finished her two-year term as poet laureate Monday night. The last poem she

"It's been a lovely two years," she said. "I have learned so much and had the opportunity to work with so many young impressionable poets who are really eager to explore the medium."

For her last reading at council, she chose The Hill We Climb by Amanda Gorman, who read the poem at President Joe Biden's inauguration.

The role of the poet laureate came into question after a meeting in September, where Albert read a poem about abortion access. Some councillors said the poem was too political.

The issue will go back to staff for changes and come to council again in the coming months.

In the meantime, council will do without a poetry reading at the beginning of meetings.

"It's like hitting a reset button," said MacDermid.

"'OK, guys, you know what? This is the moment where we start and sit down and get to business. Let's just take a pause before we move forward.' That's why this is important, contentious or not."