Poem for Poet Colleen Thibaudeau

The Reaneys asked me to present the Colleen Thibaudeau Outstanding Contribution Award award at the League of Canadian Poets banquet in Winnipeg on May 30, 2015. I was delighted and honoured to present it to esteemed Saskatchewan poet Glen Sorestad, represented by Tracy Hamon. James Reaney recently wrote about Colleen and Glen Sorestad in his blog: http://blogs.canoe.com/brandnewblog/entertainment/glen-sorestad-wins-2015-colleen-thibaudeau-award-yay/.

Photo: Susan McCaslin

Photo: Susan McCaslin

There was a large turn-out, as the League event was combined with the Writers’ Union AGM. Colleen would have chuckled at the orange flower I wore in my hair for her!  Earlier, I read my poem dedicated to Colleen at the Feminist Caucus meeting. It was first published in Prairie Journal, Calgary, Alberta, Issue #57, Fall 2012.  Here it is now:

Recounted, ReStored, ReStoried

for Colleen Thibaudeau Reaney (1925-2012)

When Colleen called, voice crackled energy along the wire
as if we were on a Grey County party line in a snow storm.

She invited you to dance with words; her card was full.
Droll, a wit not acerbic but trolling for pertinent phrase.

Language tripped slyly over the page in play of possible,
not settled but including errant sound, all probable puns.

When home could include everything, how would she not
describe in gloried detail each strand of whole? Circuitous

Led straight to the point, a maypole of ribbon encircling
the sun, a sequence as consequential as spoken history.

Remember who was where and when and why. What did
happen. A matrilineage of friend and family lore never to

Be forgotten but transformed in each telling. The tail
coiled round itself till springing straight. Recall trolling

The midden of memory, reminded. She invited us over
to chat while with an attentive eye she would embroider

Lichen on bleak Grey County rock or lush green Elgin in
brushing hair away. More to tell from inexhaustible well.

She accumulated tales to blow them out as smoke ring,
leading you through her long alliterative spring garden.

Her genes are storyteller’s, Acadian and Irish shaped new
to be all the more accurately embellished with that gift for

Capricorn lateral leap across lacunae incomprehensible till
the story revealed itself so far, the scene laid out clearly.

Sea-green eyes in an Irish face observing, not to judge but
birdlike, leaping upon the treasure of salient particularity

Of poets and peers, the revered Norrie Fry or Macpherson,
Jay. Telling tales out of school, past university corridors,

Stories sped through alternative universe, spiralled beyond
galactic connection to return, spangled in original dress back

home, where we the recipients of kindness would drink tea,
reclaiming the smoke of ancestral aeons, and be welcomed.

Penn Kemp

The cover of Four Women, Red Kite Press, Guelph ON.

The cover of Four Women, Red Kite Press, Guelph ON.

Colleen and I are both in FOUR WOMEN, along with Marianne Micros and Gloria Mulcahy.  You can read more about Colleen and her poetry on http://colleenthibaudeau.com/, including a reading from FOUR WOMEN celebrating her.

I thought of Colleen when walking the labyrinth dedicated to Carol Shield. It was lilac season still…and I thought of Colleen’s lovely spring garden. Photo by Mora Gregg.


I know Colleen would also have enjoyed this found poem for Sound Learning on a University of Manitoba stone wall.

Photo by Carmelo Militano, just after he has interviewed me on P.I., May 31, 2015, Winnipeg. https://ckuw.ca/programs/detail/p.i.-new-poetry

Photo by Carmelo Militano, just after he has interviewed me on P.I., May 31, 2015, Winnipeg. https://ckuw.ca/programs/detail/p.i.-new-poetry


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