Judith Fitzgerald

Judith Fitzgerald, poet, critic, journalist, editor (born 11 November 1952 in Toronto, ON; died 25 November 2015 in Port Loring, ON). Judith Fitzgerald earned her BA and MA at YORK UNIVERSITY, going on to pursue doctoral studies at the UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO.

Fitzgerald cultivated one of the most distinctive voices in Canadian POETRY and JOURNALISM. In the latter field, her wide range of interests was reflected in the breadth of her commentaries on art, media, culture, music and even sports. Becoming a critic for the GLOBE AND MAIL in the early 1980s, she received the Fiona Mee Award for Literary Journalism. Fitzgerald's critical accomplishments alone require a volume: blogs for the Globe and Mail's "In Other Words;" music and poetry columns for the TORONTO STAR; a column for Innings: Canada's BASEBALL Magazine; and contributions to literary collections and journals including The Oxford Book of Poetry by Canadian Women and Canadian Poetry Now. She has also edited such volumes as Un Dozen: Thirteen Canadian Poets (1982), SP/ELLES: Poetry by Canadian Women (1986), and First Person Plural (1988).

Fitzgerald's prose works include the biographies Building a Mystery: The Story of Sarah MCLACHLAN and Lilith Fair (1997) and Marshall MCLUHAN: Wise Guy (2001). Concurrent with her literary activity, Fitzgerald worked in radio, creating Today's Country, an internationally syndicated programme showcasing rising COUNTRY MUSIC artists and their work. Today's Country received a Canadian Country Music Award.

Whatever her subject, Fitzgerald's point of view indicates a principled engagement with the cultural determinants of our world. It is in her poetry that we find the seeds of this engagement. Her poetic voice takes in all manner of experience, from daily occurrences to themes from the ancient classics, and absorbs them into a personal style that is as rich in sonorous language as it is precise in pinpointing the inherent being of her subject and its relation to our living reality.

From her first book of poetry, 1970's Octave, through the companion volumes of Rapturous Chronicles (1991, shortlisted for the GOVERNOR GENERAL'S LITERARY AWARD) and Habit of Blues: Rapturous Chronicles II (1993), to River (1995, shortlisted for the Trillium Award), Given Names: New and Selected Poems (1985, shortlisted for the PAT LOWTHER MEMORIAL AWARD and winner of the Writer's Choice Award) and the epic poem The Adagios Quartet: Iphigenia's Song (2003), Orestes' Lament (2004), Electra's Benison (2006) and O, Clytaemnestra! (2007), we find a voice that underscores the immersion of her personal experience in the wider implications of her material. The result is the expression of an acute sensibility that, for example, informs the prologue to Iphigenia's Song, giving us a living sense of the heat of desire in ordinary human terms, while a dread undercurrent suggests the harsh consequences of Iphigenia and the speaker's own fates: "it is me who wounds/to mark parameters/of pain and drag/the blade against/my skin. I sculpt flesh/to remind me of its owner." Fitzgerald's psychological and spiritual acumen, and the range and force of her linguistic skills, resulted in work that is formally intricate and alive to the touchstones of human creative endeavour, that attests to our higher aspirations.

In addition to the individual honours given her poetic works, Judith Fitzgerald was awarded a 2003 CHALMERS Arts Fellowship for poetry. She has served as writer-in-residence for such institutions as the Hamilton Public Library, ALGOMA UNIVERSITY COLLEGE, LAURENTIAN UNIVERSITY and the UNIVERSITY OF WINDSOR. Toward the end of her life, Fitzgerald resided in northern Ontario's Almaguin Highlands. She passed away in Port Loring, Ontario, at age 63.