Renaissance on Hunter - Poetry Gardens Project

children playing on splashpad

close up of a strawberry hanging from a garden container; downtown street in background

garden arch with beans growing over it; a red brick building in the background

close up of grasses and purple flowers in a garden container with downtown street and mural in background

A garden close-up with herbs and flowers; small mushrooms growing out of mulch

Land Acknowledgement

We respectfully acknowledge that the City of Peterborough is on the treaty and traditional territory of the Mississauga Anishinaabeg. We offer our gratitude to the First Peoples for their care for, and teachings about, our earth and our relations. May we honour those teachings.


The City of Peterborough’s Public Art Program invites local poets to submit expressions of interest to the Renaissance on Hunter — Poetry Gardens Project.

Project Background and Vision 

The City of Peterborough Public Art Program produces contemporary artwork to enhance and animate public spaces throughout the city, create landmarks and gathering places, and to commemorate events and sites of historical significance.

For the past two years, the Renaissance on Hunter public art projects have called upon local artists to transform the expanded patio and pedestrian spaces created by road closures in the café district, into a dynamic network of road murals and artist gardens.

In that timeframe, over twenty artists, from a variety of disciplines, have infused the area with vitality; and through their work, played a critical role in making downtown public spaces more welcoming during the pandemic recovery.

The vision is for this year’s gardens is a meandering wildflower meadow that will serve as a backdrop for a rotation of poetry from June to September. The project is being developed with our project partners, GreenUp, who will design and install the gardens, and with Peterborough’s second Poet Laureate, Ziysah von Bieberstein who will provide curatorial oversight and support.

“This is a call to all poets to seed creativity and connection in our downtown this summer. I am thrilled that poetry will be cross-pollinating with vivid road murals and whimsical gardens to beckon us back into the possibilities of public space. As we emerge from a third pandemic winter, what are the words we need to hear? What wishes, what ponderings, what invitations wait to greet the wanderers of Hunter Street this summer?”

—    ­­ Ziysah von Bieberstein

The Public Art Program is committed to supporting artists by providing resources and staff support through the course of the project. More information about the Program and tips to assist with the application process can be found on the application. Please read the full call and familiarize yourself with the application before submitting your expression of interest.

Application Deadline: Wednesday, May 17th, 2023, at 4 p.m.

 Project Details   

Project Details

Poetry Garden Locations

The four gardens are located in the planters delineating temporary sidewalk spaces created by lane closures on a stretch of Hunter Street West between Aylmer and Chambers streets. Each site will feature poetry by one to two poets.

  • Site 1: south side of Hunter Street between Aylmer Street and the pedestrian laneway
  • Site 2: south side of Hunter Street to the east of the pedestrian laneway near Aylmer Street
  • Site 3: north side of Hunter Street between George and Aylmer streets, west of the municipal parking lot entrance
  • Site 4: north side of Hunter Street between the municipal parking lot entrance and Chambers Street

map showing locations of road murals on Hunter Street between Aylmer and George, 2 on the north side and 2 on the south side

Commission Value  

Selected poets will be paid $600 to compose three poems.

Who Can Apply?

This opportunity is open to professional poets living in Peterborough City or Peterborough County. Poets and cultural practitioners from the Hiawatha and Curve Lake First Nations are especially encouraged to apply.

Applicants must be Canadian Citizens, Permanent Residents, or people upon whom refugee protection has been conferred.

Applicants must be 18 years of age or older.

Equity and Inclusion

The Public Art Program seeks to embody the values, policies and practices that ensure that all people — including but not limited to those who have been historically underrepresented based on age, race/ethnicity, gender, gender identity, disability, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, geography, or religion — are represented in the planning, selection, and production of art in public places.

Special attention to the importance of work created by Black, Indigenous, and racialized artists, as well as other Equity-deserving Groups is appropriate and essential to the future of the arts sector. 

Accommodation & Accessibility

The Public Art Program is committed to open, fair, and transparent processes. Staff are available to assist applicants, answer questions and provide feedback on your drafted application, up to two days before the deadline. Please contact us as early as you can to ensure we can provide the best support possible. We are available to provide support through email, over the phone, or the use of audio and video platforms. To book an appointment please contact Public Art Facilitator, Wendy Trusler.

Application Guidelines

This is a two-stage call open to local poets.

 Stage I Requirements

  1. Expression of Interest: Letters of intent should include a short description of your subjects of interest.
  2. Biography (250 words max)
  3. Current Artist CV: No more than 3 pages.
  4. Two short samples of poetry representative of your work. 

How to Apply 

Applications for this project will be accepted online through the Submittable platform. To use Submittable, you will need to register for a free account.

Apply now: Poetry Gardens Project 

Application Deadline: Wednesday, May 17th, 2023, at 4 p.m.

We thank all applicants contributing their time and professional work for this call for proposals. Applications that do not adhere to these criteria, are late or incomplete will be disqualified. All applicants will be notified with the selection committee’s decision by early June.

Stage II (By Invitation)

In the second stage, short-listed candidates will be paid an honorarium of $100 to propose a suite of three poems. A firm draft of at least one poem as well as a description and the intent for the remaining two poems will be required. More details will be provided in a Terms of Reference document. 

Selection Process & Criteria

A selection committee composed of five voting members will review all submissions. The selection committee will represent a diversity of artistic, cultural practices and expertise, and include members of the City’s Arts and Culture Advisory Committee (ACAC), members from the community at large, and non-voting advisors as required.

The selection committee will discuss each application and select four to six poets considering artistic merit, relevance, and feasibility.

The City’s Arts, and Culture Advisory Committee (ACAC) will receive the selection committee’s findings. 

Commissioned poets will be required to enter into an agreement with the City of Peterborough. The Stage II honorarium will be subtracted from the overall commission value.    

Project Timeline

Stage I Application Deadline: Wednesday, May 17th, 2023, at 4 p.m.


Stage I Poet Notifications: Late May


Stage II Proposal Deadline: Mid- to late June


Stage II Poet Notifications: Late June


Project Duration: June to September

About this Opportunity

The Renaissance on Hunter public art projects were developed in consultation with the Planning and Transportation Divisions and Accessibility Office and will be presented in partnership with the Downtown Business Improvement Area and Green Up. They are being administered and funded through the City’s Public Art Program.

Please direct questions to:

Wendy Trusler

Public Art Facilitator

City of Peterborough

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