Sadly, Judith Fitzgerald Has Passed Away

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Re: Sadly, Judith Fitzgerald Has Passed Away

Post by dick » Fri Dec 11, 2015 11:55 pm

Sad news indeed. While difficult at times, BoHo was highly dedicated to all things Cohen. RIP
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Re: Sadly, Judith Fitzgerald Has Passed Away

Post by B4real » Sat Dec 12, 2015 12:54 am

I feel the need to express my condolences to Judith’s family and friends.
Judith replied to one of my posts just over two years ago. At the time I didn’t realise who she was as she had only posted four times. I didn’t fully comprehend all she was saying and was unsure on how I should reply. I now regret not commenting on the parts I did understand. She was very graciously agreeing with my post and thanking me for making her day. Retrospectively, I wish to say it was very much my pleasure. RIP Judith.
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Re: Sadly, Judith Fitzgerald Has Passed Away

Post by dar » Sat Dec 12, 2015 3:45 am

I was just getting ready to write our holiday exchange email. After the end of the newsgroup Judith and I would be in touch only a few times a year; but it seems those times were synchronized, she'd say she was just thinking of me when I was thinking of her. And I've been thinking of her these past few weeks. How I wish I had written her before she died. But I know she knew how much I admired her work and her love of language. She was a fierce woman. She had to be since she survived a tumultuous history. I'll miss her and so will Poetry.
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Re: Sadly, Judith Fitzgerald Has Passed Away

Post by John K. » Sat Dec 12, 2015 5:15 am

It is very sad for me to hear this news.

I was in my mid 40's and finally writing with some frequency and some (say) skill, and here in the Forum Judith was my most dedicated and fierce supporter. Having someone at her level critique and compliment my writing was not only a compliment but the greatest level of encouragement for me to reach as high as I could, to be brave and to be true to whatever it was I was going to do. She was all-too and true-to human, and she inspired me to use language however I bend it and trend it. Judith made me screw up and look up, and she is one of the people I've known along the way that made me who I turned out to be.

And for the last time ever, and I mean that forever, I end a sentence with this!!1!
Last edited by John K. on Sat Dec 12, 2015 10:27 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Sadly, Judith Fitzgerald Has Passed Away

Post by MarieM » Sat Dec 12, 2015 8:27 am

So glad someone in the media used a photo to show how beautiful she was. ... e27738657/

The Globe and Mail

Judith Fitzgerald: Poet wrote with a dazzling voice of pain and passion


Published Friday, Dec. 11, 2015 10:01PM EST

She was a slight, fragile woman, barely 80 pounds, who survived vicious childhood abuse to become an eloquent and distinctive voice in Canadian letters as the author of 25 books of poetry and two prose works, as well as a literary journalist, blogger and writer-in-residence at various universities. Judith Fitzgerald wrote her way out of psychic pain, using the healing power of language.

“She was in the top range of Canadian poets and completely dedicated to poetry,” recalled Thomas Dilworth, a professor at the University of Windsor who met the poet when she was a writer-in-residence there from 1992 to 94. He became her mentor and wrote the introduction to her final book, Impeccable Regret, published in October.

“Judith was one of the most gifted and most afflicted people in the world of poetry,” Prof. Dilworth said. “Her life was suffering. Sometimes she lived on welfare and on money friends gave or loaned her.” (Among the friends believed to have helped her financially was Leonard Cohen.)

During her time at Windsor, she wrote River (1995), inspired by the broad view of both banks of the Detroit River that she saw from the balcony of her high-rise residence. Prof. Dilworth described the book as a wild poem, a blend of lightness and darkness that contains “extreme pain, hilarity, verbal pyrotechnics, and broad cultural criticism.” He taught it in his graduate seminar. River was a finalist for the province’s Trillium Award.

“I was always amazed and dazzled by what she could do with the written word,” recalled Marty Gervais, whose Black Moss Press in Windsor issued eight of Ms. Fitzgerald’s books, including her only books for children, My Orange Gorange (1985) and Whale Waddleby (1986). “She was brilliant, eccentric, single-minded and could write about the big issues of life, the failure of love, but also about baseball and country music. And she was an amazing poetry editor who helped me a lot – she could transform [an average] manuscript into a gem. She knew the strategies.”

Rosemary Sullivan, now an acclaimed biographer and retired English professor, met Ms. Fitzgerald in the late 1970s when the two hung out at Dooney’s, a literary café on Bloor Street West: “She was exceedingly beautiful, with long red hair and this physical fragility – quite an eye-catching figure, irreverent, funny, and sometimes outrageous. Her poetry was experimental and very interesting.”

Ms. Sullivan, who wrote poetry herself then, recalls it as a time of creative ferment when people such as Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje and Al Purdy (a friend of Ms. Fitzgerald) were becoming prominent. “We were dazzled by everything Canadian,” Ms. Sullivan said. “Judith encouraged me and got my poetry (which she edited) published with Black Moss Press.”

Judith Fitzgerald was found dead at 63 on Nov. 25 at her home in Port Loring, Ont., where she lived alone. She is believed to have suffered a massive heart attack several days earlier. Over the years, she had had a string of health problems including osteoporosis, cervical cancer, celiac disease, repeated falls and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which required her to use an oxygen tank for months.

Judith Ariana Fitzgerald was born in Toronto on Nov. 11, 1952, the daughter of Marjorie Fitzgerald, a Grade 6 dropout who had numerous children by different men. Many years later, Ms. Fitzgerald confided to friends that her mother had sometimes worked as a prostitute. Her father was Robert Ouellette, about whom she wrote in a poem: I used to call him uncle daddy. I was afraid he would leave again. He did.

Most of the children were removed for adoption, leaving only two siblings with young Judith at home – her brother, Robert Norman Ouellette II, and sister, Maggie. The children were so starved and neglected that Judith, as the eldest, went out to scavenge for food for them behind the restaurants on Queen Street East. “I was their caregiver. … Our mother paid no attention unless it was time for a beating,” she wrote.

When she was seven, the police were called after a violent incident and she was temporarily sent to live with her grandparents. She had scurvy from poor nutrition and her arm, she wrote, had to be reset since it had failed to heal properly after it had been fractured by her stepfather. Later in life she refused to go swimming or wear a bathing suit because, she wrote, “My body is a roadmap of scars.”

Her grandmother, too, had a cruel streak and the girl later returned to live with her mother and stepfather when they relocated to Huntsville, Ont.

She told the Huntsville Forester in a 2003 interview that when she was attending Pine Glen Public School there, she had only one dress and one Orlon sweater: “The whole year I only had one outfit because they refused to spend money on clothes for us. We were just welfare meal tickets.” A kind teacher noticed her distress and bought her a new dress to wear on a class trip to Ottawa. Her stepfather later burned it.

With the intervention of her teachers, she was made a Crown ward at the age of 13, in 1966, and moved into foster care in Bracebridge, Ont. Her siblings, she later said, were “lost.” When Maggie died at 29, Ms. Fitzgerald dedicated Given Names, her 1985 book, to her sister’s memory.

When she was attending Bracebridge High School, Rip Pridday, a fellow student, came into her life, first as a boyfriend then as a friend. “She was an exceptional student, and a bubbly, lively, quite outgoing person,” he recalls. He took her home to Milford Bay to meet his parents, Robert Pridday, a war hero, and June, a nurse. The warm-hearted couple were the first adults to give the girl unconditional love. “My mother had a lot of maternal instinct. She saw a need and saw that she could help her,” said Rip Pridday, now a ski coach in Alberta.

Writer Judith Fitzgerald, shown in May 2000.
(Daniel Jalowica/HANDOUT)
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Re: Sadly, Judith Fitzgerald Has Passed Away

Post by Joe Way » Tue Dec 15, 2015 1:34 am

Thank you Marie for posting that obituary and beautiful photo of her. The obituary makes me regret that I wasn't more overtly kind to her and that I tried to keep her at arms length because of her distrusting and agressive tendencies. I grew up in a very kind and nuturing environment and the behaviors that sent up red flags for me were because of my own insulation. This should serve as an alert to all of us to be more tolerant and forgiving because we truly have not walked in another's shoes nor bore their burdens.

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Re: Sadly, Judith Fitzgerald Has Passed Away

Post by Mirek » Tue Dec 15, 2015 1:56 pm

Sad, very sad news... RIP Judith - BoHo [*]
Over the years we have exchanged numerous e-mails discussing everything - from alchemy and chemistry in Leonard's poetry to very private issues. I admired her knowledge of literature, history, and her fantastic language creativity.
There were also several twists and long times of silence in our contacts - Lizzie knows that, because she was involved in some of them. Remember, Lizzie?
Judith was a candle in the wind, very fragile candle. May she rest in peace.

I hope her work on Leonard will be published. I'd love to read it.
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