At the December 14 council meeting, Fredericton City Council tabled the decision to revise the role of Poet Laureate, which would see the removal of the opening poetry reading from bi-weekly council meetings.
The Fredericton Community Services Committee chose to review the roles and responsibilities of the Poet Laureate, and revised the role to remove the bi-weekly council readings. This would align the Fredericton role with Poet Laureate roles in other municipalities.
The Poet Laureate position in the city of Fredericton was established in 2016 and is currently held by Jenna Lyn Albert. During her time in the position, Albert has read and shared several poems that some have deemed controversial, including those concerning the Black Lives Matter movement and local access to reproductive healthcare. Fredericton City Council has demonstrated dwindling support for Albert following these readings.
On December 14, members of the public engaged in a virtual protest in support of maintaining the bi-weekly poetry readings. Jenna Lyn Albert shared the event on her personal Facebook page.
“City Council and Fredericton's Community Services Committee have proposed to eliminate pre-meeting poems for future Poet Laureates in response to Jenna Lyn Albert reading poems that were "too controversial" (read: relevant to current community concerns),” reads the event description on Facebook.
This decision will be discussed again at the next regular council meeting on January 11, 2021.
At the December 14 meeting, City Council approved the recommendation of the Community Services Committee that a call for submissions be released to find the next Poet Laureate. This application details the role as a two-year term that is available to Fredericton residents who have connections with the local literary art scene. Applicants must be professionally published writers who are prepared for the demands of the position.