Ruth Taylor 1961-2006
Ruth Taylor at the Double Hook Bookstore, ca 1988.
Photo: Geoff Isherwood
On Ruth Taylor
by Endre Farkas
Ruth first entered my life in the mid seventies, in my creative writing class with a mischievous smile and challenging eyes. She claimed that we met before that, when I was invited to read at Vaudreuil Catholic High to a group of grade 11 students and she introduced herself. She always had a better memory than me. She would quote me lines and when I asked whose it was, she would tell me that they were mine. She would also, when we would be walking, or driving somewhere sitting on a back porch, in a park or bar quote at the drop of a whim The Wasteland, Jabberwocky, Little Bateese, No Parking, In Guildenstern County and so much more. Maybe part of Ruth’s problem was that she remembered too much.
She occasionally reminded me that when she was my student, I had handed back a poem of hers with the comment “I asked for an avocado and you gave me an onion”. I don’t remember doing that nor do I know what I meant by that. We were so much younger then, but she said that for her it meant that I was treating her as a fellow poet. Ruth was always reading into the world what most never saw.
I remember Ruth in my Laird Hall office, where I conducted my creative writing classes, sitting under my desk and when a dilettante student would read one his or her poems that she didn’t approve of, watch her arm extend out and her palm move as if she were squishing something. It was her way of saying it was shit. The others in the class were frightened of that arm coming out from under the desk. But she was also generous and a champion to those who really cared.
Ruth had an enormous capacity for caring and loving. She was a mensch and quite a few of us benefited, sought and got comfort from this wild passionate and lonely woman-child.
Very soon, I knew Ruth as a fellow poet who was touched by the madness of poetry. I remember late nights on her back porch in Ste Anne, she cursing me for introducing her to the scene. And the next minute, with the next smoke and drink, she was saluting the gods and goddesses of the word and declaring herself their mouthpiece.
We also worked together in the poetic community. We spent countless hours typesetting, cutting and pasting, proof reading, midnight running to the obscure corners of Montreal to pick up boxes of books for launches, and then sitting in La Cabane toasting our adventures.
Ruth lived life at an intensity that was always on the brink of combustion. She was driven by a childlike innocence that found wonder in everything around her and a mystical calling that left her profoundly alone.
Most of us had a very complex relationship with Ruth. She wouldn’t have it any other way. She couldn’t have it any other way. We weren’t here to be ordinary. She couldn’t let herself be and she couldn’t let us be.
And because of this, Ruth didn’t have an easy life. She was hard on herself and could be on others. She could be one moment intensely loving and profound and the next frustratingly petulant and pushy and self centered. And everything in-between, like all of us, but unlike most of us, she wasn’t good at politesse and therefore was not able to navigate the world that is too much with us.
But whichever Ruth I encountered, I knew at the core was an overwhelming love and life. And sadly, the person who would move mountains for others could not shake off weights that settled on her and could not accept helping hands that reached out to her.
I am angry at you for that. I love you Ruth but I’m pissed at you for thinking that no one knew as much or could give you a helping hand. If you were so smart, how come you have come to this? And Ruth I am really pissed at you for taking off so soon.
And I am sad that I will not have any more late nights with you, staring up at dragons and dreams. But I will look up on starry nights and look for you among the constellations riding the cosmic comet, bugle to lips, leading the charge across the heavens.
Talking to Ruth
by Claudia Lapp
O Ruth, I hardly knew ya
so wear my cinnabar dragon bracelet
hoping to fetch a shred of your spirit
out-of-body as it may be.
You can hear me, I know and…
With Delphic innocence
I did presume
to treat of things
Chthonic and celestial fires alike
We’re glad you did,
girl quarky reasoning,
meanings for which there is no academic proof
Third eye knows best,
O Chironic daughter of Jove
a fertile imagination, heh heh
fetch of a silkworm momentarily eternal
upon a quivering leaf
Who the hell in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue
knows that fetch means “ghost”,
You’d go on about draconic Flaming
Pearls, hermetic charms & Wiccan
spells for lakeside suburbs
You became Artie’s R.T., two Goats
just days apart, your two Mars
forlorn whimsy of cosmic clock
Now you’re talking like a Capricornus!
There’s a thing I can relate to - Solar light afflicted by Saturn,
apprenticed to the Study of
words gone extinct that Moderns
don’t care about, tomes bulging
with prima Nobody knows of what I sing.
That is the agony of it all.
Of Thee you sang, with Thallic
routines made the puers quiver,
melted down their minds by
Sapphic methods, O ART!
O stand-up Muse, O Girlfriend!
O Terpsichore’s hot-tin tap shoes,
O Klio’s electric karma clit
Dakini to Dragon Lady,
I hardly knew ya,
stared long at your wood nymph
cover photo, Pandora & Eros
behind your eyes,
Saturn’s musty cloak thrown off,
Charming in leopard pants & big
galoshes, a Girl, but Old…
One tires of … Monads and Gonads
The Melancholic speaks now…
Mixed humours here sanguine
a bit cholicky too, no doubt
That Mars , a moist Mater of yours,
& maternal, Retrograde, too,
was no Choleric but moist Mater
who needed to act out big time
whenever you let him out
In an arpeggio of delicious uncertainties
life spills over, warm upon their bellies
…is captured in tissue.
Heh Heh. Heh Heh Heh.
O Thallic stand-up,
who’ll be your Doppelganger?
a fast red bird
one big dragon roaring,
spitting lightning out in forks
I see you wearing your Dragon Robe
with flaming pearls when you enter
the Pearly Gates
at the least surprise
We’ll never “figure out” your demise…
forlorn whimsy of our cosmic clock
You Capricorns will not forget theTime,
the allotted seasons.
So it was your time? WE CAN’T
Now you cavort with Chiron, gather Self-Heal,
smash the face of the clock, roam palatine space
with the Immortals
This is the eternal present.
This is the eternal present.
Yes, rain falls, snow flies,
kettle boils and dishes
are stacked in the sink.
And the dragon scent,
an eerie and comfortable cologne
This is the eternal present.