James’ Brand New Blog

Archive for June 11th, 2012

Happysad thoughts about my mother & father & how their art goes on

- June 11th, 2012

My father died four years ago today ( June 11, 2008). I can’t think about dad without thinking about mom, who died on Feb. 6 (2012). It’s a time for reflection on the lives of both my parents.

To go with the sadness, there is joy in celebrating their remarkable accomplishments in Canadian culture & in their private lives.

As I’ve said many times, I feel sad but not sorrowful, because of the tremendous love & support we continue to receive from so many friends who miss James “Jamie” Reaney & Colleen Thibaudeau.

The Canadian Press
Today is June 11:

In 1509, England’s King Henry VIII married his first wife, Catherine of Aragon.

In 1638, the first earthquake recorded in Canada was felt in Quebec.

In 1770, Capt. James Cook discovered Australia’s Great Barrier Reef by accidentally grounding his ship on it.

In 1940, Princess Juliana of the Netherlands arrived in Canada during the Second World War.n 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper offered an apology in the House of Commons to former students of native residential schools for the sexual and physical abuse that occurred at the now-defunct network of federally financed, church-run residential schools that also wiped out aboriginal languages and culture in the name of assimilation. It was the first time a Canadian prime minister had formally apologized for the abuse of about 150,000 First Nations, Inuit and Métis children who were removed from their communities throughout most of the last century and forced to attend residential schools.

In 2008, James Reaney, a Governor General’s Award-winning poet, author and dramatist of three famous plays about Ontario’s feuding Donnelly family, died in London, Ont., at age 81.

(Courtesy of The Canadian Press, edited by JBNBlog to keep in things which would have intrigued/amused dad).

In dad’s case, the life & art of one of his greatest allies, the late Canadian director John Hirsch, is the subject of a new play at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. Hirsch is created and conceived by Alon Nashman (who was fantastic at the London Fringe a few years ago) and Paul Thompson (Listowel! Western! Them Donnellys!). Dad & John Hirsch teamed on Colours in the Dark, dad’s play at the festival in 1967. Its opening night is an enduring, beautiful memory.

Recently, there have been many new honours for mom’s legacy as a poet, activist & free spirit to move us & make us thankful for such friends. The billboard devoted to her poem “Balloon” is gone into memory . . . but here is a bit of what’s to come:

Next March, “the poetry and letters of Colleen Thibaudeau” will be dramatized in Colleening, a new work by London playwright, director & AlvegoRoot Theatre Co. impresario Adam Corrigan Holowitz. Oliver Whitehead & Stephen Holowitz are composing the music. “Colleening” is a phrase devised by Canadian poet Margaret Avison to describe adventures & excursions with my mother. It was passed along to Adam via former Western English prof Stan Dragland.

London poet laureate & good friend Penn Kemp has championed mom’s legacy.

Here is a note from Penn:

A heads-up, ears open for Tuesday, July 3, 6:30 – 7:00 pm.  This Gathering Voices show is a tribute to London poet, Colleen Thibaudeau (1925-2012).  We are featuring Colleen’s poem sequence,“Inwhiches”, from the Four Women, CD, as well as Penn Kemp with Anne Anglin, performed live at King’s University College, the Centre for Studies in Creativity.  Penn reads her tribute poems to Colleen as well.  Colleen’s well-known concrete poem will ride London buses this year as part of the anthology of Poetry in Motionhttp://www.londonarts.ca.  Gathering Voices, CHRW FM 94.9 FM. (R. July 10, 6:30-7:00 am).  Listen live on www.chrwradio.com/listen .   The show will be blogged on Gathering Voices, https://www.facebook.com/groups/3992303404/, and archived on www.chrwradio.com/talk/gatheringvoices.

Happy summer!
Penn

My mom would be honoured & touched by these & other local heroes taking up her words.

She must also be proud of an award in her name which will be part of the League of Canadian Poets gathering in Saskatoon this weekend. My sister, Susan Reaney, a jamesreaney.com co-founder, will travel from Vancouver to represent the family.

Here is some background:

A new honour from the League of Canadian Poets, The Colleen Thibaudeau Award (Colleen Thibaudeau Outstanding Contribution Award) has been announced. It recognizes a substantial volunteer project or series of projects that significantly nurture and support poets and poetry across Canada.

Thanks to League of Canadian Poets president Susan McMaster & all involved in the award. Congratulations to Wendy Morton, its first winner. Like other ways of honouring Mom, it helps us see & feel all the love & support flowing to Mom’s memory & to us.

Susan McMaster (first) and then Wendy take over from here.

Please allow to introduce you to our first winner of the newly named Colleen Thibaudeau Award, Wendy Morton. Wendy is an active and inspiring poet from Sooke, BC, who is the founder of the national Random Acts of Poetry project, among many others, and who is now implementing an Elders poetry project with First Nations children which is reaching into many communities and is in its fifth volume at last count.

Hi, James,

Thank you so much for sponsoring this award. I’m just delighted to be the recipient. I’ve spend many years as a poet encouraging other poets to bring poetry to people who do not have poetry in their lives.

That’s why Random Acts of Poetry was born and had a fine life for 7 years.  Hundreds of poets across Canada were involved.

Now, The Elder Project has become my poetic focus.  I train First Nations students as poets, then their Elders arrive, tell them their stories and turn these stories into poems.  I like to say it is the best thing I can do as  a poet.

Now I’m working on book 5.

 

Wendy

 

League member Wendy Morton lives in Sooke, B.C., and has published five books of poetry, and a memoir, Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast, in which her adventures as a corporate sponsored poet are revealed. She has been WestJet’s Poet of the Skies, Chrysler’s Poet of the Road, and is currently sponsored by Fairmont Hotels, AbeBooks and Prairie Naturals Vitamins. She is the recipient of the 2010 Spirit Bear Award and The Golden Beret Award, and was made an Honorary Citizen of Victoria in 2011. Wendy is the first recipient of the League’s Colleen Thibaudeau Outstanding Contribution Award for founding Canada’s Random Acts of Poetry, among many other poetry projects. She is currently involved in The Elder Project, described briefly below in an excerpt from a recent article from The Tyee:

 

“Poetry has great power. It communicates complex emotions, grandiose ideas, and a tumultuous world in a concise package. It brings people together, it tears them apart. It’s cathartic, it’s educational, it’s healing.
“It’s precisely that catharsis, healing, and education that Wendy Morton has tapped into with her Elders Project: compilations of poetry written by B.C. students, inspired by interviews conducted with their elders — mostly First Nations, both relatives and strangers — in two different provincial school districts.
“With three already published and more in the works, these anthologies have succeeded in teaching the newest generation about the mistakes of the residential school era, of the tenacity of the human spirit, and the value of knowledge from your ancestors.”