Colleening: The Poetry and Letters of Colleen Thibaudeau, March 1-9, 2013

On March 1-9, 2013, Colleening, a play by Adam Corrigan Holowitz celebrating the life and poetry of Colleen Thibaudeau, was presented by the Alvego Root Theatre Company at the Arts Project Theatre in London, Ontario. Colleening features many of Colleen Thibaudeau’s poems, some set to music and sung, as well as excerpts from letters Colleen wrote to friends and family throughout her life.

Patsy Morgan, Chris McAuley, Paul Grambo, and Donna Creighton were the wonderful performers and interpreters of Colleen’s work. Stephen Holowitz and Oliver Whitehead composed the music, adding vibrant settings for Colleen’s words.

"Colleening" by Adam Corrigan Holowitz and music by Stephen Holowitz and Oliver Whitehead, March 1-9, 2013 at the Arts Project Theatre, Lomdon, Ontario.
“Colleening” by Adam Corrigan Holowitz; music by Stephen Holowitz and Oliver Whitehead, March 1-9, 2013 at the Arts Project Theatre, London, Ontario.

For more about Colleening, see JBNBlog’s review: “Mom had often said her lines were too long to be set to music. Not so, mom, as I am sure you are hearing whether it’s Oliver or Stephen who is working with your beautiful words.”

Penn Kemp in The Beat: “The triumph of this play is that it acknowledges our own local heroes/heroines, and carries on the tradition in such a grand collaboration. Here’s celebrating our talent, both past and present, in this production of Colleening!”

Kenneth Chisholm in Theatre in London: “Watch this play and you will see a magical show of music, verse and prose like you’ve never seen before in Downtown London.”

Here are the poems and letters featured in Act I and Act II of the play,
some spoken and some set to music*:

Act I
Miniature One
Childlight Town
My Grandmother’s Sugar Shell, Ontario Baroque
Amethysts
St. Thomas
Watermelon Summer
Children in the Storm
Listening Together
Miniature Two
The Obvious Skies
The Dieppe Gardens Poems
Sociable People Wondering What I Do
Going to Winnipeg
King’s Park, Manitoba
Letter to Margaret One
What Happened to the N.Y. Sunday Times
Letter to Margaret Two
Aristide Bruant au Honey Dew
Letter to Margaret Three
Name Dropping as Skipping Stones
Letter to Margaret Four

Act II
Miniature Three
About Noon
London Observations
Last Night I Dreamed
Lullaby for the Mother
Little Anne Running
All My Nephews Have Gone to the Tar Sands
Hitchhiking
Sunday Morning
Style
Malcolm Working
A Page of Rage
Running Down to Barachois
Miniature Five
Canada Trust Tower More bird stuff
The Tomato Pickers Observed
The Brown Family
The Cooper
Looking at The Artemesia Book
Miniature Four
White Bracelets
Letter One
Rainy Day in March
Letter Ten
Alive

The play’s collage of poems, letters, and reminiscences also included extracts from other writing about Colleen Thibaudeau or about her family: Stan Dragland’s “Prologue”, Herman Gooden’s “Colleen and Jamie”, Stewart Thibaudeau’s story “The War”, and other selections from “A Biographical Sketch” from earlier interviews conducted by Stan Dragland, Peggy Dragisic, Don McKay and Jean McKay.

*About the music:

Music for the “Miniature” series poems was composed by Stephen Holowitz and Oliver Whitehead.

♦  Stephen Holowitz composed music for “Childlight Town”, “Watermelon Summer”, “The Dieppe Gardens Poems”, “Sunday Morning”, “Malcolm Working”, “The Cooper”, and “Rainy Day in March”.

Oliver Whitehead composed music for “The Obvious Skies”, “King’s Park Manitoba”, “Aristide Bruant au Honey Dew”, “Lullaby for the Mother”, “Little Anne Running”, and “White Bracelets”.

Stephen Holowitz and Oliver Whitehead are members of the London jazz group The Antler River Project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hteyhpy3gcM

 

 

Colleen Thibaudeau’s “Balloon” for National Poetry Month 2012

To honour poet Colleen Thibaudeau (1925-2012), Colleen’s poem “Balloon” was displayed on a billboard near Stanley Street and Wortley Road in London, Ontario. The billboard was a joint project of Poetry London, London Public Library, and Brick Books, in celebration of National Poetry Month.

“Balloon” was first published in Colleen Thibaudeau’s book of concrete poems, Lozenges: Poems in the Shapes of Things, by the Alphabet Press in 1965.

April 14, 2012: “Balloon” by Colleen Thibaudeau, 1925-2012
April 14, 2012: “Balloon” by Colleen Thibaudeau, 1925-2012
April 14, 2012: Celebrating National Poetry Month. Jean McKay was on hand to play her fiddle.
April 14, 2012: Celebrating National Poetry Month. Jean McKay was on hand to play her fiddle.

 

April 4, 2012: Elizabeth Reaney celebrates her grandmother’s poem
April 4, 2012: Elizabeth Reaney celebrates her grandmother’s poem “Balloon”

Colleen Thibaudeau Reaney 1925-2012

Colleen Thibaudeau, poet and beloved wife of James Reaney, passed away on February 6, 2012 in London, Ontario. Colleen will long be remembered by her family, neighbours, and many friends.

Colleen Thibaudeau, 1925-2012 Photo by Diane Thompson, 1997
Colleen Thibaudeau, 1925-2012 Photo by Diane Thompson, 1997

Links celebrating Colleen and her work:

Colleen Thibaudeau Reaney, Dec. 29, 1925–Feb. 6, 2012 by James Stewart Reaney, London Free Press, February 6, 2012

“Greatness in Poetry” by Marty Gervais, February 7, 2012

“Poet found magic and mystery in the everyday” by Sandra Martin, The Globe and Mail, February 9, 2012

Colleen in St.Thomas

Colleen’s family moved from Grey County to St. Thomas, Ontario, when she was eight years old.

Colleen (age 12) and friends tenting in St. Thomas, Ontario, Summer 1938. Colleen is standing at the far right with her younger sister Shelia (age 4).
Colleen in St. Thomas, Summer 1938, with her sister Shelia.

Colleen’s Childhood in Grey County

Colleen spent part of her early childhood in Flesherton, Ontario, where her father was a high school teacher.

 

Colleen Thibaudeau (age 7) with her classmates at Flesherton School, Grey County in 1933. Colleen is seated at the end of the second row on the far right, and her friend Diana Goldsborough is beside her.
Colleen with her brother John, Felsherton, Ontario, Winter 1933
Colleen (second from left) and friends tobogganing, Winter 1933

Colleen’s Diary May 15, 1939

I always forget to write. Today was lovely. I earned my first money (50c) from the Canadian Girl for “Dream Castle,”…

diary01A

Collen's poem Dream Castle was published in Canadian Girl, May 15, 1939
Colleen’s poem “Dream Castle” was published in Canadian Girl, May 15, 1939, when she was 13 years old.

Colleen’s early days

Colleen Thibaudeau, age 4 months, with her mother Alice Pryce Thibaudeau , and her father, John Stewart Thibaudeau, in Toronto, Ontario, April 1926.

Baby Colleen with her mother and father, Toronto, Ontario, April 29, 1926
Baby Colleen with her mother and father, Toronto, Ontario, April 29, 1926

Welcome!

Welcome to collenthibaudeau.com, a celebration of poet Colleen Thibaudeau’s life and work.

Colleen Thibaudeau was born in Toronto on December 29, 1925. She grew up in St. Thomas, Ontario, and wrote poetry and stories from an early age.

Join us on our journey through Colleen’s poems, stories, and memories. We look forward to remembering and discovering Colleen with you.

Colleen Thibaudeau, 1925-2012 Photo by Diane Thompson, 1997
Colleen Thibaudeau, 1925-2012 Photo by Diane Thompson, 1997