POSTSCRIPT TO ARTIE by Carolyn Zonailo
There are some who knew Artie more intimately than I did; there are those who knew Artie better than me; and a few very devoted individuals who helped Artie over many years. But I knew Artie well. By that, I mean it was a good knowing of Artie, and I valued him as my fellow poet and friend. I miss Artie very much and find it hard to accept that he is no longer nearby.
Artie and I originally met in 1978, when I was in Montreal to attend my first meeting of The League of Canadian Poets. I visited Artie where he was living on Lorne Crescent. We were young poets, Artie from Montreal, me from the west coast; we read and knew each others' poetry. It was great writing in the 1970s and 1980s and meeting poets from across the country.
Artie and I had several factors in common—we both came into this world the winter of 1947—Artie on January 15th, and myself less than a week later, on January 21st. Both Artie and I were born poets—neither one of us ever doubting our life work of writing poetry. And, we both arrived with less than robust lungs, that necessitated a life time of coping with lung problems and breathing difficulties.
Artie was a Vehicule poet—I am married to a Vehicule poet.
Artie was born in Brockville, Ontario; I was born in Vancouver, British Columbia. Yet for the past ten years both Artie and myself ended up living a few blocks away from each other in the furthest northwestern part of N.D.G.
In January of this year, 2007, Artie and I celebrated our 60th birthdays, by going to The Second Cup across the street from Artie's apartment. Stephen Morrissey was there to help us "kick up our heals" over reaching the grand age of sixty. Considering how Artie had never expected to live that long; and that I had come very close to dying of asthma related lung problems in June and July of 2006—it seemed quite a miracle that here we were both in Montreal, in our shared corner of N.D.G., celebrating our upcoming birthdays, over coffee, tea and pastry-cakes at The Second Cup.
Artie was not at all well, and I was still convalescing, but it was a mild day for January, and our conversation was lively and included a discussion of opera. Artie continued talking to me about opera on the phone and in voice messages during the next few days.
Artie always treated me as an equal: as a poet, a friend, and a woman. Artie was considerate and often flirtatious with me. We talked together about a variety of many subjects that ranged from the mundane, such as switching from satellite to cable television, to friendship, family, love and sex, and of course, poetry, our literary archives, art, health and mortality. And I also talked to Artie, our relationship did not consist of just me listening to him. Artie was good to me, since he understood my allergies and the severity of my breathing problems; and I knew the tremendous courage he had to summon in the face of his deteriorating health and bad lungs. Our conversations didn't need explaining in the way that one has to explain things to healthy people. With regard to both poetry and our health burdens we were never starting at the beginning, we were on the same wave length. When I could help Artie cope, I did. When Artie could help me to persevere, he was there for me.
One day, about three years ago, Artie called me all excited. He had found in his archives a letter he had written to George Bowering. Artie even let Stephen bring the letter home to me, so I could make a photocopy—actually take it out of its plastic container and handle the original letter. It was the great pleasure that Artie felt at finding this letter, that makes it special for me. Here is a brief quotation from the letter:
jan 81 mtl
I am going to end by reading Artie Gold's poem "1947"— Artie's year of birth and mine; a year that we discussed many times. God bless you Artie, my world is lonelier without you.
Something must be said about the others born 1947, if you yourself were not,
we can tell you roughly this. 1947 threw up the years around it and spasms
and retches still reach out everyway. it was the year that was ashamed; the
year that hid its children in serious amphetamine serious meditation serious
consideration of the request — bequest of the mothering years. the year that
looked at what expensive parties were being thrown at what would be held up
to later years without any shame presented as something dying and a thing
worth saving yet, not worth the effort of an unthrown party. they hid in an
opaque metaphor that was disgust before laughter. they spent time with the
absurd sum of what once was. they were serious about living away from that.
they were concerned with directions. no energy was theirs from that year to
engage life with. perhaps it was this; they threw up that. you can't walk up
to 1947 with any deception though. they are the ones who stood still to watch
to throw up and to laugh seriously. don't look for us between ages; we can
walk alongside even between years but we have nothing to contribute,
except to perhaps be seen re-enacting the pageant of the throwing-up.
- cityflowers, (Delta/Can, 1974)
For Artie Gold in memoriam, January 15, 1947 - February 14, 2007
Copyright Carolyn Zonailo © 2007 Montreal
I get a special kind of mapleleaf pimples up and down my back and feel like Tom Thompson reaching for a paddle in the quiet lake as it drank him. Those lonely giants the trees, whose will Canada really is.. .... There's just you and a few others like McKinnon, Carol[lyn] Zonailo, Coupey, Sharon two or three more but there and if they were taken away the land would not put up substitute batters overnight like anthills on a deserted plain. nope.