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Sadly, Judith Fitzgerald Has Passed Away

Posted: Sat Dec 05, 2015 10:08 am
by MarieM
Sorry to report that Canadian poet and B'Loser Judith Fitzgerald passed away on November 25. She was an old timer, an original, and a passionate Cohen devotee. I can think of no one who deserves to rest in peace more. I hope she and Sandy are singing in that Hallelujah choir tonight. ... -1952.html
rob mclennan's blog

Tuesday, December 01, 2015
Judith Fitzgerald (November 11, 1952 - November 25, 2015)

Canadian poet and critic Judith Fitzgerald has died. An obit here reads:

Ms. Fitzgerald died suddenly, but peacefully, at her Northern Ontario home on Wednesday, November 25, 2015 in her 64th year. Cremation has taken place. A Celebration of her Life will be announced at a later date. Judith Fitzgerald was the author of twenty-plus collections of poetry and three best-selling volumes of creative non-fiction. Her work was nominated and short-listed for the Governor General's Award, the Pat Lowther Award, a Writers' Choice Award, and the Trillium Award. Impeccable Regret was launched this year at BookFest Windsor to critical acclaim. Judith also wrote columns for the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star, among others. "Her work is incredible...entirely inventive, deeply moving, and universally attractive." – Leonard Cohen. For further information, to make a donation, order flowers or leave a message of condolence or tribute please go to or call Paul Funeral Home, Powassan, ON (705) 724-2024.

As I wrote in my recent review of her Impeccable Regret (Vancouver BC: Talonbooks, 2015): “The author of some two dozen poetry titles going back more than forty years, from Octave (1970) to the most recent “Adagios Quartet” – published through Oberon Press as Iphigenia’s Song, vol. 1 (2003), Orestes’ Lament, vol. 2 (2004), Electra’s Benison, vol. 3 (2006) and O, Clytaemnestra!, vol. 4 (2007) – Fitzgerald, through multiple award nominations and her ongoing critical work, has been a consistent force in Canadian writing for decades. She has also produced some of my favourite poetry overall; herLacerating Heartwood (Toronto ON: Coach House Books, 1977) remains one of my most reread poetry collections.”

Judith Fitzgerald was one of my favourite Canadian poets, as well as being one of my earliest and most passionate supporters, and both she and her work were very important to me in my twenties [see the piece I wrote here about a decade ago on one of her poems from Lacerating Heartwood]. We even brought her to town to read at TREE (as she claimed, her “second last public reading”) on April 9, 1996, and produced, through above/ground press, her chapbook26 WAYS OF THIS WORLD: A Variation of Ghazals. Part of a longer work-in-progress, D’Arc and de Rais, about Joan of Arc and Gilles de Rais, I was always slightly disappointed she abandoned that title for the final publication, appearing as26 Ways Of This World (Ottawa ON: Oberon Press, 1999). We kept an occasional correspondence that was furiously active between extended silences. She was good enough to even occasionally send poems for some of my schemes,including my Canadian issue of dusie. An email two weeks ago after my review of her Talonbooks was the first I’d heard from her in a few years.

As a poet, critic and person in the world, she was passionate, brilliant, forceful and sometimes difficult. I shall miss her.

Image ... dies-at-63
Windsor Star

More from Dalson Chen, Windsor Star
Published on: November 30, 2015 | Last Updated: November 30, 2015 6:58 PM EST

Poet with Windsor ties Judith Fitzgerald dies at 63

Judith Fitzgerald, a celebrated Canadian poet known locally as an “honorary Windsorite,” has died.
According to an obituary, Fitzgerald passed away suddenly but peacefully at the age of 63 in her northern Ontario home on Nov. 25.

Over the course of her 45-year writing career, Fitzgerald produced more than two dozen volumes of poetry, including several published by Windsor-based Black Moss Press.

Her 1991 volume Rapturous Chronicles was nominated for the Governor General’s Poetry Award.
She also wrote well-received biographies on Marshall McLuhan and singer Sarah McLachlan, and contributed pieces to national publications such as The Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star.

Most recently, her volume entitled Impeccable Regret was launched at this year’s edition ofBookFest Windsor.
Fitzgerald’s relationship with Windsor began in the 1990s, when she spent time as writer-in-residence at the University of Windsor.

Although her later years were spent in the community of Port Loring, Fitzgerald maintained her connections with Windsor and was treasured by the local literary community. She was scheduled to be one of the invited guests at BookFest in October, but had to cancel due to suffering a fall.

In 2010, Fitzgerald wrote a creative piece for The Globe and Mail entitled “The pen and the pain” that detailed a previous fall, explored her health issues, and wryly warned of “writerly occupational hazards.”

Sarah Jarvis, BookFest Windsor’s organizer, said Fitzgerald will be missed. “She was frail throughout her life, but she was really all about the poetry. She’s part of Windsor’s literary landscape.”

Cremation has taken place at A.M. Paul Funeral Home in Powassan, Ont. Arrangements are being made for a celebration of Fitzgerald’s life.

Re: Sadly, Judith Fitzgerald Has Passed Away

Posted: Sat Dec 05, 2015 10:51 am
by jarkko
This is sad, but not very surprising. Judith's last years were not easy; she had very serious health problems, with multiple operations. In spite of this, she was working on her poetry until the end; after the book she released this fall she already had finished another book - on Leonard Cohen. Judith underlined many times in her emails that it's not a standard biography but her very personal view on Leonard's life and work.

Those who were already on board in the mid 1990's in the old Leonard Cohen Newsgroup, knew Judith as BoHo. She was a very active participant in many of the threads. She was often sharp-tongued and made her opinions very clear. We also remember that she was the first to suggest a real-life encounter in Montreal - something that we now know as The Leonard Cohen Events.

I never met Judith face-to-face; she did not participate in any of our happenings, but followed the community life from distance. Leonard Cohen was a guiding star in her life; I really hope that her book will one day see the light of the day.

Rest in Peace, Judith

Re: Sadly, Judith Fitzgerald Has Passed Away

Posted: Sat Dec 05, 2015 12:05 pm
by DBCohen
I'm shocked and saddened by this news. She was special and unique. I hope to write more later.

Re: Sadly, Judith Fitzgerald Has Passed Away

Posted: Sat Dec 05, 2015 9:50 pm
by Sideways
I really hopes she finds peace, if that's how it works after death! She was a troubled Lady but, as we all do, she deserves to be thought of only in a kindly way.

Re: Sadly, Judith Fitzgerald Has Passed Away

Posted: Sun Dec 06, 2015 4:05 am
by lizzytysh
We kept an occasional correspondence that was furiously active between extended silences.

This sentence resonated with me as a very accurate description of how my one-time friendship with Judith patterned itself, or was patterned... until the silence prevailed. I'm very sorry to hear that Judith has died. She was, indeed, a force. She had an entry and exit into the English language that was unique and created pathways to understanding what she intended to express, but in entirely new ways, with unexpected insights. She made words obey and splintered them at will.

Much love to you, dear Judith. My admiration will remain strong. I'm sorry that your intent to attend the New York Event never materialized.

~ Lizzie

Re: Sadly, Judith Fitzgerald Has Passed Away

Posted: Sun Dec 06, 2015 5:09 am
by DBCohen
I got to know Judith Fitzgerald (BoHo) through the Book of Mercy discussion I initiated on the Forum back in 2006 (and which went on for over three years). I was intrigued by her unique point of view and inimitable use of language, and felt thrilled and honored by her participation. Was it fortunate or unfortunate that she was also so sensitive? Her sensitivity must have been an important asset for her creativity, but it also had its difficult side; in this case, taking offense by some people’s comments she demanded to remove all her postings, which left painful gaps in the discussion. I, and I’m sure others who took part at the time, benefited greatly by her observations, and were sorry to lose them. Her love for LC work was as deep as her understanding of it. I believe she also knew him personally and loved him greatly. I very much hope that the manuscript completed before her painful death will get published, as it is sure to contain a unique contribution which we will be fortunate to have.

Simultaneously, for a while we exchanged emails in which she talked candidly about herself and the Forum. I saved our correspondence, and going through it now I’m once again amazed by her linguistic wizardry. I didn’t get to know her poetry well, but I admired her ability to turn a phrase and coin her own unique creations. In fact, she once honored me with a poem she wrote spontaneously in response to one of my emails; it is quoted here in her memory:
Funny, the waiting, waiting subject
line, the synchronous design of it,
the wanting of the truth of it; I am
paralysed, literally, on the left side
and having trouble typing with the right
hand sprawling on the keys, splayed,
maybe, I no longer know the difference
nor, for that matter, does it matter
because if you peel back the skin
of words strung out in a line you find
there are only twenty-six ways out
of this world and you know twenty-seven angels
marched towards quartz and diamond gems
glittering on the headside of the rusted tiara
gone grey-white dust in the queendom
where not even a lifetime of penance
brings forth the cruel justice of absolutes
no longer so easy to embrace; beauty,
for example, I heard that last gasp from the corpse
in the orchestra and locked the doors on lions
and dogs braying under a full moon at the gates
of some fresh hell only disappearance satisfies.

Love always, Judith

Re: Sadly, Judith Fitzgerald Has Passed Away

Posted: Sun Dec 06, 2015 8:43 pm
by Joe Way
RIP, Judith. Like many others, our friendship went back to the old news group. Doron, thank you for sharing her excellent poem.


Re: Sadly, Judith Fitzgerald Has Passed Away

Posted: Sun Dec 06, 2015 10:08 pm
by Diane
This is sad news. Judith wasn't always easy on here, but she was fiercely intelligent and certainly one of a kind. RIP.

Re: Sadly, Judith Fitzgerald Has Passed Away

Posted: Mon Dec 07, 2015 2:56 am
by regensburg
I did not know Ms.Judy but she must have been a very special Lady. My deepest Sympathie goes out to her Family.

Re: Sadly, Judith Fitzgerald Has Passed Away

Posted: Mon Dec 07, 2015 5:22 am
by lizzytysh
Like you, Doron, I fervently hope Judith's book regarding her friendship with Leonard and her perspectives of his work makes it to print. I'll put it at the front of the line of others not bought yet, if it does. Her ways of expression will make it a pleasure to read and her insights into his work will likely register as brilliant.

I feel sad knowing that Judith is no longer in the world, this world. Her jagged-lightning creativity with language mesmerized me. There was no way to know what might happen with the next word in a sentence, nor the next moment in any communication with her. Her contributions on here with Leonard's work would have stood the test of time on value. It seemed she and I came *this* close to attending the New York Event together, with my doing the driving to pick her up in Canada. Ultimately, she had to back out. Intermittently, for awhile, we had long conversations by phone, and a multitude of email exchanges, as well as some things by mail. Even though things didn't necessarily turn out well, there remained hope of reconciliation bolstered by a very close almost, but my admiration of and concern for her never wavered. Despite her extreme sensitivity borne of a seemingly lifelong vulnerability, I've no reason to believe that she didn't know that I had a special place in my heart exclusively for her. Judith was painfully and delightfully complex, and having known her as I did remains a joy. May you rest in peace, finally knowing peace, dear Judith.

Re: Sadly, Judith Fitzgerald Has Passed Away

Posted: Tue Dec 08, 2015 7:51 am
by Squidgy
Joe Way wrote:RIP, Judith. Like many others, our friendship went back to the old news group. Doron, thank you for sharing her excellent poem.

Hey Joe, don't be a stranger.
This is sad news.
Judith was indeed one of the superstars of the old newsgroup.
Her personality was a whirlwind, and it was the reader's choice whether to get blown away, or just relax and enjoy the ride.
She once phoned me at 3 am, and her ferociousness and fragility came thru in that conversation. She'd had a traumatic childhood, and found it difficult to trust anyone.
Too young. May she find peace.

Re: Sadly, Judith Fitzgerald Has Passed Away

Posted: Thu Dec 10, 2015 2:12 pm
by Boss
Judith Fitzgerald, I liked you. And you liked me. You encouraged me, you had the guts to comment and interact when others couldn't. Your writing here enthralled me. Juicy, imaginative, and highly original. Judith, you were, and I believe still are, a treat. May you be in Love. An appreciative fellow Cohenite, Boss x

Re: Sadly, Judith Fitzgerald Has Passed Away

Posted: Thu Dec 10, 2015 11:41 pm
by MarieM ... 1952-2015/

Quill & Quire

Remembering Judith Fitzgerald, 1952–2015

The Canadian poet and critic Judith Fitzgerald died peacefully on Nov. 25, just weeks after turning 63. Her achievements were many, including more than 20 collections of poetry, four edited anthologies – including the influential SP/ELLES: Poetry by Canadian Women (Black Moss Press, 1986) – along with three books of non-fiction, including Building a Mystery: The Story of Sarah McLachlan and Lilith Fair (Quarry Press, 1997) and Marshall McLuhan: Wise Guy (Dundurn Press, 2001).

Fitzgerald’s 1985 work Given Names: New and Selected Poems, edited by Frank Davey, was shortlisted for the Pat Lowther Award. Rapturous Chronicles (Mercury Press, 1991) was nominated for a Governor General’s Literary Award. River (ECW Press, 1995), an epyllion set in the Windsor/Detroit area, was shortlisted for the Trillium Award and won the James McMaster Poetry Prize. Her four-part epic, Adagios Quartet (Oberon Press), a contemporary treatment of the Agamemnon myth, won her a prestigious Chalmers Arts Fellowship. Her most recent book, Impeccable Regret (Talonbooks, 2015), launched at this year’s BookFest Windsor, is praised by George Bowering, Daphne Marlatt, and Leonard Cohen, who calls Fitzgerald’s poetry “stunningly original; distinguished by wit, beauty, and a powerful sense of language.”

Marty Gervais, publisher of Black Moss, admired Fitzgerald’s editorial expertise and felt her writing was the most inventive and original in Canada. The late Alistair MacLeod declared, “She is not only the most intelligent poet in Canada, she’s also able to take language to new heights and is sensitive to language and all the nuances associated with it. She’s one of the greats; and, by that, I mean, THE GREATS.”

Fitzgerald’s love of language shaped her writing. In his introduction to Impeccable Regret, University of Windsor professor Tom Dilworth comments on Fitzgerald’s linguistic beauty, calling it “delicately exquisite, clunky, multivalent, polyphonic … gently lyrical, neologistic, allusive, and (pervasively) playful.” Dilworth observes Fitzgerald’s extension of a poetic tradition flowing through Shakespeare, Keats, Hopkins, and Joyce, offering prismatic truths on love and death, balanced against the restorative powers of beauty through nature and art, and set against a loss of humanistic culture at the hands of rationalist materialism.

More than just a brilliant writer, however, Fitzgerald was also a champion of the arts and culture in general. From her home in Northern Ontario, she wrote reviews, blogs, columns, criticism, and feature articles on sports, music, and the literary arts. Her journalism appeared in Books in Canada, The Globe and Mail, the National Post, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Toronto Star, among other publications, and she won the Fiona Mee Award for “outstanding contribution to English-language literary journalism.”

Fitzgerald did not have an easy life. In her online biography, she reveals that as a child she suffered “unspeakable cruelties” at the hands of caregivers, and she recounts a recent physical attack that nearly killed her. Often impoverished and in poor health, she lived on an uncomfortable edge. Her belief kept her energized: “Life is a gift. I am not particularly religious in terms of its external manifestations; but, I do believe in a force outside myself, as ineffable and necessary as oxygen.”

A love of language sustained Fitzgerald throughout. On her website, she exclaims: “Jouissance? Absolutemance! Gawd, I love language damned near to death, love everything it communicates and conceals, each phoneme that contributes to building / making / shaping a beautiful thing worthy of entry in The Book of Eternity.”

I had the pleasure of publishing Fitzgerald’s writing in my literary journal, Rampike, along with poetry she’d co-written with Leonard Cohen, and we maintained a friendly email correspondence for years. She signed her emails, “Undeniably yours.” Peace and love, Judith. You are undeniably ours.

For Judith

You stirred wordstorms, raised mindfires, effulgent
phrases turning thought on head, reading
life’s eddies, un-sited, echo-located, incited
on printed page, sub-lines of rage, wages of suffer him,
Cassandra afire, searching for-words, future
worlds, in-flexted pasts tensed, mingle-words
ink-thoughts, crystalline insights inside flaming
heartwords, you left us, your self, poly-faceted,
multi-voiced, and undeniably, ours … Judith


Karl Jirgens is the former Head of the English Department at the University of Windsor, where he now serves as an associate professor. He has edited the journal Rampike since 1979.

Re: Sadly, Judith Fitzgerald Has Passed Away

Posted: Fri Dec 11, 2015 5:02 am
by mutti
Thank you Marie. Its always sad when someone from the forum passes away. I am sorry I did not know Judith or her writing. I missed an opportunity it looks like.
Peace to her family and friends.

Re: Sadly, Judith Fitzgerald Has Passed Away

Posted: Fri Dec 11, 2015 11:16 pm
by lizzytysh
Karl Jirgens captured Judith.

Thanks for posting that piece, Marie.