Yearly Archives: 2016

Colleen Thibaudeau’s “There’s a waterfall in Iceland”

Poem

There’s a waterfall in Iceland
That cries by the thousandsful,
even on a postcard, it’s forever saying,
don’t fear again, horseman, ride on,
I’ll do the crying for you.

Mr Kopf burnt off his wintergrass
it was exciting when the wind changed
and he had to phone up his brother-in-law;
for a day or so it showed black
now you can’t see it for the new growth.

Saturday morning riders shyed away
from my pampas grass going up.
We all like fires and we all like waterfalls
and the brown days when the gulls chase unseen
excitement over the fields.

Colleen Thibaudeau, 1969

Postcard of Skógafoss, a waterfall on the Skógá River in Iceland, sent to Colleen by her friend Karin (1970)

Postcard of Skógarfoss, a waterfall on the Skógá River in Iceland, sent to Colleen by her friend Karin (Summer 1969)

"Skógafoss: One of the highest and most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland..."

“Skógarfoss: One of the highest and most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland…”

 

“There’s a waterfall in Iceland” was first published in Poetry (Chicago) CXV, 3 (Dec. 1969), 169. It also appears in The Artemesia Book (1991), available from Brick Books.

For more about Skógarfoss, see the Katla Geopark page: http://www.katlageopark.com/geosites/skogarfoss/

The Artemesia Book: Poems Selected and New, Brick Books, 1991.

The Artemesia Book: Poems Selected and New, Brick Books, 1991.

2016 Colleen Thibaudeau Outstanding Contribution Award

2016 Colleen Thibaudeau Outstanding Contribution Award

Saturday June 18, 2016 in Toronto — The League of Canadian Poets has chosen poet Bruce Rice as the 2016 winner of the Colleen Thibaudeau Outstanding Contribution Award for his efforts in establishing the Mayor’s Poetry City Challenge. Thanks to Bruce, mayors across Canada can now bring poetry into politics by inviting a poet to read at a council meeting during National Poetry Month. Congratulations Bruce! And thank you, Penn Kemp, London Ontario’s First Poet Laureate and long-time friend of Colleen Thibaudeau, for presenting the award to Bruce — true poeticians all!

June 18, 2016 -- Poet Bruce Rice is the 2016 winner of the Colleen Thibaudeau Outstanding Contribution Award.

June 18, 2016 — Poet Bruce Rice is the 2016 winner of the Colleen Thibaudeau Outstanding Contribution Award. (Photo courtesy The League of Canadian Poets.)

Past recipients of the Colleen Thibaudeau Award for Outstanding Contribution to Poetry are Glen Sorestead (2015), Allan Briesmaster (2014), Dennis Reid (2013), and Wendy Morton (2012).

Established in memory of late poet and honorary member Colleen Thibaudeau (1925-2012), the award was created by the League of Canadian Poets and Colleen Thibaudeau’s family to honour and recognize a substantial volunteer project or series of projects that significantly nurture and support poets and poetry across Canada.

For more about the League of Canadian Poets and this year’s Canadian Writers Summit, see the League’s write-up of the event, “Lorna Crozier is double-winner at 2016 LCP book awards”.

Saturday June 18, 2016 -- Poet Lorna Crozier (far right) -- winner of the Pat Lowther Memorial Award and the Raymond Souster Award for her collection "The Wrong Cat".

Saturday June 18, 2016 — Poet Lorna Crozier (far right) — winner of the Pat Lowther Memorial Award and the Raymond Souster Award for her collection “The Wrong Cat” published by McClelland & Stewart. (Photo courtesy The League of Canadian Poets.)

Colleen Thibaudeau’s “My granddaughters are combing out their long hair”

Colleen Thibaudeau’s “My granddaughters are combing out their long hair”

My granddaughters are combing out their long hair

my granddaughters are combing out their long hair sitting at night
on the rocks in Venezuela       they have watched their babes
falling like white birds from the last of the treetop cradles
they have buried them in their hearts where they will never forget
to keep on singing them the old songs

brought down to earth they use twigs, flint scrapers acadian
their laughter underground makes the thyme flower in darkness

my granddaughters are thin as fishbones & hornfooted but they are
always beautiful under the stars: like little asian paperthings
they seem to open outward into their own waterbowl

mornings they waken to Light’s chink ricocheting
off an old Black’s Harbour sardinecan.

Reduce them the last evangelines make them part of the stars.

my granddaughters are coming out by night combing their burr
coloured hair by the rocks and streamtrickle in Venzuela
they are burnt out as falling stars but they laugh
and keep on singing them the old songs.

Colleen Thibaudeau, 1977

“My granddaughters are combing out their long hair” is from The Artemesia Book (1991), available from Brick Books.

>>> Listen to Peggy Roffey read the poem here.

Colleen Thibaudeau, Summer 1977 in London, Ontario

Colleen Thibaudeau, Summer 1977 in London, Ontario

The Artemesia Book: Poems Selected and New, Brick Books, 1991.

The Artemesia Book: Poems Selected and New, Brick Books, 1991.

A Nau(gh)tical Afternoon

A Nau(gh)tical Afternoon

Colleen Thibaudeau holding her son James Stewart Reaney (age 4 months) with her friends Pamela and John Beckwith (Toronto 1955)

Colleen Thibaudeau holding her son James Stewart Reaney (age 4 months) with her friends Pamela and John Beckwith (Toronto 1953)

Note from Susan Reaney: In August 1956, Colleen and her husband James Reaney and their young sons (James (age 3 1/2) and John (age 2)) spent the afternoon with dear friends John and Pamela Beckwith and their children (Robin Jane, Jonathan, and baby Simon) in Toronto. Colleen later wrote the playlet and sent it to Margaret Beckwith, the Beckwith children’s grandmother.

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(The photographs are from earlier and later visits with the Beckwiths and from the Reaneys home in Winnipeg.)

A Nau(gh)tical Afternoon

(Authentic Canadian playlet by Colleen Thibaudeau. Dedicated to Mrs. H. Beckwith of Victoria. One performance only of this playlet, Monday August 27, 1956 at 17 Admiral Road, Toronto. All persons mentioned are only too real.)

I hereby acknowledge happily all debts to Gertrude Stein and P. Picasso.

Colleen's children John and James (Winnipeg 1959)

Colleen’s sons John and James (Winnipeg 1959)

Act I, Scene I

Prologue
A sort of processional
Admiral Road

Enter 2 small red-headed pirate boys, followed by 1 father (J.R.) and 1 mother (C.T.).

Pirate boys: Is this the way? Is this the way? Will there be toys? Will there be toys?

F & M: Yes, right ahead. We hope there’s toys.

Pirate boys: Some toys for boys? Some toys for boys?

F & M: Yes, toys for boys. We hope.

(Gradually fade away.)

Colleen Thibaudeau with her sons John and James (Winnipeg 1959)

Colleen Thibaudeau with her sons John and James (Winnipeg 1959)

Act I, Scene II

John Beckwith discovered leaning into the telephone in his front hall, arranging his CBC programmes.

John: Yes, then slip on that platter, see… no I spelled it B a c h. B as in Beckwith, Then the continuity and after that, two minutes on the… [sees 4 Reaneys at his door] life… Hi, just a sec… the back yard?… then? No never mind ‘a sec’. Continue with that second disc… look, never mind the back yard—who?? O, he won’t walk. Sit down… you know the one… the mass is last [2 Reaneys pass through] you know the one I mean [and 2 Reaneys sit down in the parlour near A Baby Carriage].

Act I, Scene III

F & M: Isn’t he sweet! Something like Robin Jane. And quiet too. Imagine that! What lovely names.

John: Just stay right there.

F & M: The children like the yard – it’s safer, quieter: they’re all wrought up. Today at 8 we docked at Port McNicholl…

Mother: Wonderful trip – sort of rough on Lake Superior as usual. James Stewart told the waiter, his Grandpa could take his teeth out! And one day all through the Dining Room he recited this ditty:

Big bears make a big stink
AND
Little bears make a little stink.

Father: That’s Winnipeg for you. Now that we moved into town there, they meet all sorts of sinister influences. One great menace called Dunnery…

Dunnery Best, John Reaney, and James Stewart Reaney (Winnipeg 1959)

Dunnery Best, John Reaney, and James Stewart Reaney (Winnipeg 1959)

Mother: The times I’ve pulled him out of snowbanks—!

F & M: Yes, up at 6… and off the boat at 8… 3 hours by train… the subway up to your place, then the bus.

Mother: Walking was hardest; we’re getting our landlegs.

F & M: And you? And you? Are the children sleeping? Where is Pam? How do you think the Stratford Players will do at Edinburgh? Are you on holiday, John?

John: Yes, more or less. We didn’t move around too much this summer. “Waiting for Simon”— title for a rightest play. Got up to hear Glenn Gould though—lovely things—but maybe overlong for what he had.

Enter Pam and Joan Trimbell, a neighbour (whom Rs know).

Pam and John: Hello, Hello.

Interlude

(Offstage chorus of all her friends and relatives) … Slowly and with varying emphasis.

— How does it feel?
O how? O say, O tell, O do
(How are you?)

How does it feel to be a mother,
A mother,
A mother
Of three?
Three!
3.

3 little children
One’s a girl. Yes, the first one
Is definitely a girl.
Her name is Robin Jane.
A pretty name.
And then the second?
Another girl?? NO!
No?
NO! Definitely not.
The second is a boy called Jonathan.
Jonathan.
Jonathan what?
or?
What Jonathan?
I’ve forgotten. So have I.
But his godfather Jamie and his grandmother Beckwith will know.
And the third I know.
So do I.
So do I.
Just three weeks to-day.
So they say.
Sleeps like a top. Isn’t that lovely.
Simon Francis. Isn’t that lovely.
Elegant name.
Edwardian name.
Modern name.
Sensible name. Isn’t that lovely.
And the mother?
Mother of three.
How does it feel to be a mother of 3?

James Stewart Reaney and friends in (Winnipeg 1959)

James Stewart Reaney and friends (Winnipeg 1959)

Act I, Scene IV

Pamela: Hello, I will get them up.
Robin Jane [she was already up; historical error] and Jonathan.
Jonathan is huge.
Wait till you see him.

[John: Wait till you lift him.]

Pam: And then we will have tea.

Pirate boys: And then we will have tea.
Have tea.
Are there any more toys?
Are there any more toys?
We’ve worn out these toys.

(Pamela, two pirate boys Exit into house.)

End of Act I

Act II, Scene 1

[Enter Pamela wearing pink sweater, blue skirt carrying huge tray with tea.
Followed by Robin in turquoise Vyella frock, carrying small tray of lemonade.
Followed by Jonathan in blue Dutch boy overalls bearing a dolly.]

Pirate boys: Is that Jonathan?
Is it?
Is it?

Is he tough?

End of Act II

Act III, Scene 1

Reaneys leave in a taxi.

(S.F. and Pamela offstage with bottle, assisted by R.J.)

F & M: Goodbye. Goodbye.
And thanks so much. For everything.
We’re off to Stratford for a while.
Until we find a house.
Jamie’s father should be there already. Came ahead by train.

Father: Well, I’ll see you soon.
Yes, I’ll be down to get a house.

John: Yes, let us know.
You could stay next door perhaps. To be one year in Toronto will be interesting–at least.

2 pirates (muffled): We want more toys.
More toys.
More trucks.
More cars. Where were the trucks, the other trucks and cars?

Mother: I’m haunted by one thing. Your mother, John—Her holly gift and that Stupendous Christmas card
We really loved.
I never really wrote to thank—

John: She’d understand—

Mother: but on the farm, there’s time.
I’ll write and tell her how well you all look and that we saw young Simon briefly—how pretty Robin Jane is, her complexion, and Jonathan a pet.

Father: Well, Union Station, please.

F, M & 2 p.b.: Good bye. Goodbye
And thanks for all you’ve done.

End of Act III

Epilogue

Father [on telephone to his mother]:
Well September 11th, and it’s signed, the lease, more than we want to pay, but garage to rent etc. and a furnished place is sensible for a year’s leave of absence. For one year on a PhD.

Now come October 1st, we can move down to 14 Montague St. Toronto, Ontario.

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Thank you Robin McGrath of Stone Cold Press for publishing a chapbook version of A Nau(gh)tical Afternoon in 2010 (ISBN 978-0-9866750-2-7) — like the original, a labour of love.

The Reaneys and Beckwiths enjoyed future summer visits together with their children. Here are pictures of the pirate children’s visit to Tobermoray and Flower Pot Island in 1962:

Reaney and Beckwith families' summer visit to Tobermoray, Ontario (August 1962)

Reaney and Beckwith families’ summer visit to Tobermoray, Ontario (August 1962)

Colleen Thibaudeau and Pamela Beckwith with their children (Summer 1962 at Flower Pot Island near Tobermoray, Ontario)

Colleen Thibaudeau and Pamela Beckwith with their children (Summer 1962: exploring the caves at Flower Pot Island near Tobermoray, Ontario)

Summer 1962: James Stewart Reaney (back) and Jonathan Beckwith, John Reaney, and Simon Beckwith. Summer 1962.

Summer 1962: James Stewart Reaney (back) and Jonathan Beckwith, John Reaney, and Simon Beckwith. Summer 1962.

John Andrew Reaney (age 8), Flower Pot Island (Tobermoray, Ontario, August 1962)

John Andrew Reaney (age 8), Flower Pot Island (Tobermoray, Ontario, Summer 1962)

Flower Pot Island, Ontario (August 1962)

Flower Pot Island, Ontario (Summer 1962)

Colleen Thibaudeau’s “Aristide Bruant au Honey Dew”

Colleen Thibaudeau’s “Aristide Bruant au Honey Dew”

Aristide Bruant au Honey Dew

Deep in Lautrec’s lovely eyes
Struggles the surge of violet seas;
Well bred ladydogs sniffing the Musakladen airs
Put him at unease.

It is an hour of tea; furs
Unfold their brown orchids in the smoke;
From each sweet claw dangles the little dagger
Too indolent for stroke.

Waitresses wear their cup-coloured clothing
To conceal a violence like artificial hydrangeas;
Eyes that should have been running rivers into lakes together
Pass as desert strangers.

O for Bruant to come blasphemous, talking up ready storms,
Raging to give the waiting girls their cue
To come forth all clatter and vile orange welcome, and to put
An absinthe in each Honey Dew.

Colleen Thibaudeau, 1948

Chanson réaliste singer Aristide Bruant (1851-1925) in a portrait by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, courtesy wikipedia:

Chanson réaliste singer Aristide Bruant (1851-1925) in a portrait by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, courtesy wikipedia.org

“Aristide Bruant au Honey Dew” first appeared in Contemporary Verse (35, Summer 1951) and can also be found in The Artemesia Book (1991), available from Brick Books.

Toronto’s Honey Dew Restaurant (1948) was on the mezzanine level of the Odeon Carlton Theatre (20 Carlton Street near Yonge).

“The Clock Tower” by Colleen Thibaudeau

“The Clock Tower” by Colleen Thibaudeau

The Clock Tower

When they pull my clock tower down
I will no longer walk this town.

At night her lucent face is seen
Homely and bright as margarine,

And when I wake when I should sleep
Sounds her Ding Bong sweet
And heart-sticking as the Knife-Man’s cry
When his squeaking cart goes by.

Children, chickens,
Matrons with baskets, old men with sticks, all stop
to gawk at my clock;

The shock-headed with the frost
Kid who sells papers, the popcorn man
Buttery knuckled, the shifter of ashcans,

Firebugs, tire-stealers, track fixers for the TTC,
Somnambulists, commune with me —

And we all move and love
To the grace of her sweet face.

Colleen Thibaudeau, 1949

First published in The Canadian Forum (30, July 1950), “The Clock Tower” also appears in The Wind Has Wings: Poems from Canada, an anthology of poems for children published by Oxford University Press in 1968.

"The Clock Tower" by Colleen Thibaudeau from the Oxford University Press anthology The Wind Has Wings (1968).

“The Clock Tower” by Colleen Thibaudeau from the Oxford University Press anthology The Wind Has Wings (1968). The clock tower illustration is by Elizabeth Cleaver.

The Wind Has Wings: Poems from Canada, 1968, Oxford University Press. Compiled by Mary Alice Downie and Barbara Robertson; illustrated by Elizabeth Cleaver. (ISBN-0-19-540026-7)

The Wind Has Wings: Poems from Canada, 1968, Oxford University Press. Compiled by Mary Alice Downie and Barbara Robertson; illustrated by Elizabeth Cleaver. (ISBN-0-19-540026-7)

© 2017 Colleen Thibaudeau