Yearly Archives: 2015

Colleen Thibaudeau’s “Aroha’s Fossil”

Colleen Thibaudeau’s “Aroha’s Fossil”

Aroha’s Fossil

Aroha’s fossil goes clear through the washing cycle
still in the pocket of her wrangler jeans
and comes out deepsea clean & pure as
someone’s eyes are seas who’s
fallen right through the world
(straight through to China as we used to say)

Keelhauling, gutting, name it —
nothing of that shows.

She says, hey here’s my fossil back and
warms it in her hand.

Colleen Thibaudeau, 1972

“Aroha’s Fossil” is from The Artemesia Book (1991), available from Brick Books.

>>> Listen to Angela Graham read “Aroha’s Fossil” here.

Susan Reaney (age 10) Summer 1969, Victoria, BC. Photo by Colleen Thibaudeau.

Susan Reaney (age 10) June 1969, Victoria, BC. (Photo by Colleen Thibaudeau)

Susan Reaney (age 10) May 1969, Victoria, BC. Photo by Colleen Thibaudeau.

Susan Reaney (age 10) July 1969, Point No Point, BC. (Photo by Colleen Thibaudeau)

 

For more about the poem, see Maureen Scott Harris‘s essay “The Unfolding Present: Rereading Colleen Thibaudeau” in Brick Books Celebration of Canadian Poetry.

The Dieppe Gardens Poems

The Dieppe Gardens Poems

“The Dieppe Gardens Poems” is one of Colleen Thibaudeau‘s poems from The Martha Landscapes (1984), available from Brick Books.

The Dieppe Gardens Poems

Eugene and Peter read their poems
about Dieppe Gardens, Windsor,
a September evening, here in London.

Dieppe Gardens, it’s not a park where I’ve walked,
but I remember the news of it coming — Dieppe — it came over the fences,
(field by field, farm by farm): “bad news from home.”

Someone called and we would leave off hoeing,
go to the fence, and there, crying or trying not to cry,
a Windsor girl asking us to pass bad news along

though all the lists not in… We threw ourselves at the ground,
and that day passed, (half-hope half-fear) as if just striving
might somehow balance out the half-knowing.

A time of drought: the fine dust caked our hair; our cracked
hands, blunt fingers scrabbled to put right
a bent plant; all was more bitter-precious on that day.

Evening came; on the gravel we walked barefoot, asking,
(field by field, farm by farm), could we use the phone,
but nothing changed: only “bad news from home”

day halved slowly into night.     Your words,
Peter and Eugene, go active into memories long stilled,
and I am filled with wonder for the walkers there
in Dieppe Gardens now.

Colleen Thibaudeau, 1984

Note from Susan Reaney: In the poem, Colleen Thibaudeau recalls her own war-time experience working as a volunteer farm labourer for the Ontario Farm Service Force in August 1942 near Windsor, Ontario. The Dieppe Gardens in Windsor, Ontario are named in memory of the many members of the Essex-Kent Scottish Regiment who lost their lives during the World War II landing at Dieppe, France on August 19, 1942.

 

August 1942: Ontario Labour Force volunteer farm workers. Courtesy The Estate of Colleen Thibaudeau.

August 1942: Ontario Farm Service Force volunteer workers near Windsor, Ontario. (Photo ourtesy The Estate of Colleen Thibaudeau)

August 1942 near Windsor: Colleen Thibaudeau (age 16) was a volunteer farm worker. Courtesy The Estate of Colleen Thibaudeau.

August 1942: Colleen Thibaudeau (centre, age 16) was a volunteer farm worker that summer on a farm near Windsor, Ontario. (Photo courtesy The Estate of Colleen Thibaudeau)

 

Brick Books’ Celebration of Canadian Poetry

Brick Books’ Celebration of Canadian Poetry

Brick Books 40th Anniversary Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qclaYEWuN3A

Brick Books 40th Anniversary Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qclaYEWuN3A

Congratulations to Brick Books on 40 years of publishing! For a closer look at Brick Books past and present, see Celebrating 40 Years of Publishing Canadian Poetry (YouTube).

Brick Books‘ year-long project “Celebration of Canadian Poetry” continues with Colleen’s poem The Glass Cupboard.

From Brisk Books' video "Celebrating 40 Years of Publishing Canadian Poetry" -- this photo of Colleen Thibaudeau appears at the 3:45 mark.

From Brick Books’ video “Celebrating 40 Years of Publishing Canadian Poetry” — this photo of Colleen Thibaudeau appears at the 3:45 mark.

Colleen Thibaudeau’s “White Bracelets”

White Bracelets

we all have old scars
and sometimes in winter
I can still see what was
white bracelets
(let’s call them white bracelets
just as my grandmother used to say
when we fell down steep stairways,
stop crying or you’ll miss hearing
the stairs—they’re still dancing)
what was once white bracelets
what before that showed pink
what before that was raw & festering
what before that was agony
down to the bones
what before that was
almost blacked out
& being dragged by the tractor
in the barbed wire
what before that was
surprise & yelling:
can’t you STOP  STOP
what before that was
lying in the grass
reading a blue letter
looking up into sun & clouds
that were riffed
and quiet like white bracelets.

Colleen Thibaudeau, 1971

“White Bracelets” is from The Artemesia Book (1991) and available from Brick Books.

∞♥∞♥∞♥∞

Note from Susan Reaney:  Stan Dragland, poet and novelist, has high praise for Colleen Thibaudeau’s poetry in his new book The Bricoleur and His Sentences:

“Thibaudeau may be diffident about her process, but her leaping poems stretch wide from the domestic to the mythic and do so as naturally as if they had not actually been written but somehow just occurred. And I have never had the pleasure of editing any writer whose work called for less alteration.” (page 29)

 

 

G.G. and Elizabeth at Port

G.G. and Elizabeth at Port

G.G. AND ELIZABETH AT PORT

Elizabeth (four) would fete Mackie’s 75th anniversary
just as often as the car would get there.

Her “G.G.,” great-grandmother, also
favours Mackie’s, especially the “Specialty Sauce”

on chips. In sunlight sharp as Mackie’s Orange,
they sit together – eighty years seems not to separate

for both love waves, love water. “I could look forever, couldn’t you?”

That Sunday, though, their eyes harden,
for the waves are black, flung up coal dredged from the lake bottom.

“It is as if beasts are leaping out of the foam,”
G.G. shivers.    Elizabeth, only: “Let’s go home.”

 Colleen Thibaudeau, 1986

Colleen Thibaudeau’s poem “G.G. and Elizabeth at Port” is from The Patricia Album and Other Poems (1992).

GGElizabeth1986

Alice Pryce Thibaudeau (age 85), Colleen Thibaudeau’s mother, with her great-granddaughter, Elizabeth Reaney (age 4), August 1986 in Port Stanley, Ontario.

Mackie's at Port Stanley, Ontario.

Mackie’s at Port Stanley, Ontario.

Elizabeth Wallace Reaney, Colleen's granddaughter, at Port Stanley, August 1986

Elizabeth Wallace Reaney, Colleen’s granddaughter, at Port Stanley, August 1986

 

Colleen Thibaudeau’s “The Glass Cupboard”

Colleen Thibaudeau’s “The Glass Cupboard”

The Glass Cupboard

Lights from the Highway sparser, softer now
and the Gorst lights gone and their house gone
away,
just lost rib to new life in dark seas,
just dark seven sleepers gone seasabout the foot of our hill,
just the foot of the hill and a great cave opening up.

Lights from the glass cupboard !spark! the house dark;
And it’s up to the glass cupboard now! It looms
at James’ headheight, three paces from the kitchen sink,
one from table, length approximately my armspan, crafted
by an Albertan who loved the bush, the hills.

The Bay Highway kindles to blue Italian grotto glasses;
and green glasses, safe-and-wide as Sweden; and cheap
little ruby liqueurs sing; and cocktail Libbys supermart
violent and fresh from fists that swung axes, pounded down a territory
and rolled Malcolm Lowry into the soundmad surf dazzling no warning…

By an Albertan who loved the bush, the hills,
who made this cupboard ark that tends the tides
of dream. They light, they guard the house,
glow like an icon of Mike Todd, thirty-odd glasses,
touched off by random headlights moving toward the Bay.

Colleen Thibaudeau, 1969

“The Glass Cupboard” is from The Martha Landscapes (1984), now back in print and available from Brick Books.

 

The Martha Landscapes by Colleen Thibaudeau, 1984.

The Martha Landscapes by Colleen Thibaudeau, 1984.

Colleen at the University of Toronto 1949

Colleen at the University of Toronto 1949

Colleen Thibaudeau was a graduate student of Marshall McLuhan‘s at the University of Toronto in 1948-1949. Colleen remembers Professor McLuhan in this excerpt from an article by journalist James Stewart Reaney:

“I remember him from ’48, ’49 when I was in his M.A. class. Although ’49 wasn’t over yet, he bravely suggested the topic to me: Canadian poetry of 1949,” mom says. Later McLuhan would become famous for saying such things as: “Tomorrow is our permanent address.”

Back in 1948-1949, he was already using a similar approach. Mom calls it: “Writing about it before it’s taken place – almost.”

 The thesis flourished as mom encountered such Canadian poets and creators as A.M. Klein, P.K. Page and Earle Birney. With his Cambridge ties, McLuhan also helped by introducing my mom to British critics like Queenie Leavis.

 “When you get into the world of the ’49ers,’ you’ve left behind the pastoral world of earlier Canadian poetry, not entirely, but it’s going,” mom says.

>>> Read the full article here.

Two of Colleen’s poems from from her student days are “The Clock Tower” (1947) and “Aristide Bruant au Honey Dew” (1948).

Colleen Thibaudeau 1949 at the University of Toronto

Colleen Thibaudeau at the University of Toronto in 1949

 

 

 

© 2017 Colleen Thibaudeau