Poet Laureate Chloe LaDuchesse dropped from mayor's inauguration ceremony

Greater Sudbury's poet laureate says she's frustrated after being dropped from this week's inauguration ceremony of mayor and city council.

'Changes happen' city says about Poet Laureate's omission from inauguration

Chloé laDuchesse is Greater Sudbury's fifth poet laureate. She was invited to write a poem for the mayor's inauguration, then was dropped from the event. (Angela Gemmill/CBC)

Greater Sudbury's Poet Laureate says she's frustrated after being dropped from the ceremony of this week's inauguration of mayor and city council.

Chloe LaDuchesse says she was invited to compose and read a new poem during the inauguration.

She says her work, entitled "Yet Another Rock Poem" was inspired by the grumbling about the Place Des Arts being built over a downtown parking lot.

LaDuchesse says she was also thinking about the debate over the Kingsway Entertainment District.

But she was surprised when the city told her that her poem had been dropped from the ceremony.

She says she isn't sure if the subject of the poem was considered too controversial for a mayor's inauguration, even though she says there is a history of Sudbury poets composing works about the area's rocky, rugged landscape. 

"For me, coming from Montreal, I thought I would write my own rock poem, with a vision of what I'd like Sudbury to be."

"But poetry is not about ornament and about being cute and flowers and birds," LaDuchesse said. "It's about the society we live in and what we expect."

LaDuchesse says the poem took the better part of a day to write, not including the edits. She was taken aback that the invite from city hall was revoked a few days after she submitted the poem.

"I was really feeling like reading that poem," Laduchesse says. "I wrote it for these people. I wrote it for the other citizens."

"Also, I was a bit frustrated, because it did take me some time and I have a busy schedule, so it's not really respectful of my time and my energy."

In response, the city says this was merely a "format change" and looks forward to hearing the Poet Laureate speak at future city events.

City says format changes happen

"Format changes do occasionally happen at city-planned events," the communications department said in a statement. 

"Since being appointed to the position of Poet Laureate in February of this year, Ms. LaDuchesse has represented the City at various events, sharing City Council's commitment to arts and culture."

"We look forward to her continuing this important work in our community and hope to have her in attendance at other City events in the future."

Kim Fahner, a former Sudbury poet laureate, said in a Facebook post it was "just not polite" for the city to invite a poet to write a piece for the mayor's inauguration, then revoke the invitation because of a "format change." (Samantha Samson/CBC News)

Previous poet laureates have spoken up over the matter.

In a Facebook post, Kim Fahner writes:

"An invitation to create a commissioned work of poetry, which takes extra work and thought beyond a poet laureate's personal creative interests, shouldn't be revoked," Fahner wrote.

"You don't invite someone to your table and then take away their seat or close the door and leave them standing on the front steps. That's just not polite."

You can hear Chloe LaDuchesse read her poem by clicking the audio link below. 

Roger Nash, who was the city's first poet laureate, replied to CBC News via email:

"If a city wants an occasional poem, for an initial meeting of a new council, that takes up only certain themes and in certain ways, that should be explained in advance," Nash wrote.

"Then the poet can decide whether to take up the task or not. I love the poem, and don't find it critical of council in an objectionably negative way. It challenges us all to work towards a better future."

The full text of the poem can be read here, courtesy of Chloe LaDuchesse.

"yet another rock poem"

everybody has to have their own
so we carry them by the
and try to sell them
on the roadside.

they grow under our
houses and in our forests and
tint our water
with a thin taste of

dig out this city's streets:
there they are.
the rock poems.
quietly nourishing
our roots with
memories of the unseen,
voices of the unspoken.

you can blow the whole town up,
replace it with endless parking,
strip the citizens of their
right to vote
and give it to their

you can try to milk
meaning out of a
asphalt wonderland.

they like immobility, too.
they're not going anywhere.
the rock poems.
carving their way into our minds
like a chant
reminding us of the times when
legacy wasn't a model of
four-wheel drive.


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