Norwich poet laureate nomination withdrawn; DUI charge cited

Norwich — The nomination of a 31-year-old performance poet as the city’s first poet laureate was withdrawn from Tuesday’s City Council agenda Tuesday afternoon after concerns were raised about a drunken driving charge in Ledyard in February.

A brief news release announcing the withdrawal of Chantaal Goodwater’s appointment from the agenda stated the nomination was withdrawn “at the request of the City of Norwich, on behalf of the Norwich Creates Collaborative. An announcement will be made at a future date.”

Mayor Peter Nystrom said the three sponsoring council members — Nystrom, Council President Pro Tempore William Nash and Alderwoman Stacy Gould — as well as the Norwich Creates Collaborative, which led the selection process, agreed to withdraw the nomination. Nystrom said Goodwater’s name could be reconsidered in the future, and he agreed she was a strong candidate for the honorary position.

Goodwater was charged Feb. 23 by Ledyard police with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, failure to drive right, failure to maintain the proper lane and failure to carry minimum insurance.

But Nystrom said Tuesday it was a concern that the arrest came in between her first interview with the selection committee in early February and the final interview in early March, and the committee was not made aware of it.

Norwich Creates Collaborative member Julie Menders said the judges who reviewed the three applications wanted to keep Goodwater’s nomination “but we also want to be respectful of everyone involved.” Menders said the group agreed to withdraw the nomination at this time.

“Her poetry is amazing, and she would have represented the city well,” Menders said.

Goodwater could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

On Monday, Goodwater said she was honored at being nominated for the position. Asked about the February arrest, she said: “I’m just focusing on the positive.”

c.bessette@theday.com

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