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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.)

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 “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)

 

 

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

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 Reaney 1925-2012

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

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

 

© 2017 Colleen Thibaudeau