25th Trillium Award

The Dirty Dozen, with Claudia Coutu Radmore

 
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Claudia Coutu Radmore

Claudia Coutu Radmore's most recent chapbook, Accidentals (Apt. 9 Press), won the 2011 bpNichol Chapbook Award. If you have read Claudia's previous work, prepare to be surprised: Claudia breaks away from her haiku and tanka, and the historiographic project of her previous collection, a minute or two/ without remembering. Her poems move deftly through Claudia?s wide reading to establish unexpected and rewarding dialogues. Claudia will be reading this Saturday, November 24 with Phil Hall and Rachael Simpson at the Raw Sugar Cafe in Ottawa. Be sure to attend if you are in the area! Visit our Events page for details.

Today Claudia takes on the Open Book Dirty Dozen, which gives authors the chance to share 12 unexpected facts about themselves. Claudia chats about being shot at while stealing peaches shares quite the painful story concerning a full body cast.

  1. I was once nearly shot by the carabinieri of a little Italian village for stealing peaches. My sister and I didn?t realize why our Italian friends had handed us green plastic garbage bags and led us into a cemetery late at night, or why we had to hide behind tombstones, until we reached the peach trees. We finally realized that questo frutteto accanto al cimitero appartiene al conte meant ?this orchard beside the cemetery belongs to the count,? and we ducked through the streets avoiding armed village policemen on the lookout for thieves.
  2.  

  3. I am working on two poetry manuscripts, and a novel, tentatively called Rose of Montreal, about the mystery of my mother?s birth, and its effect on her. Who was her father, and who was her mother?
  4.  

  5. We grew up poor which meant that we ate the cheapest food, mostly sugar and carbs. I still like sugar and carbs. Offer me, just offer me, the piece with the extra icing!
  6.  

  7. I was a CUSO volunteer in Vanuatu from 1985 to 1988, and went back for three months to write a report for The World Health Organization in 1993. My first publication was by the University of the South Pacific, (in Bislama this translates as Univesiti Blong Saot Pasifik) and was in the language of Bislama. It was not poetry, but a manual for Preschool teachers on how to run an island preschool without money.
  8.  

  9. A good theme for a collection by me would be ?the loves of my life?. It would be a long book, and it?s been done before. But it would be a lot of fun to do. Not talkin? ?bout friend friends, but, you know, friend friends.
  10.  

  11. I?m a great mystery fan and can consume eight or ten a week if I let myself. I?m selective and won?t read bad writing. There are a good many wonderful mystery writers in the world, especially from the British Isles, and great translated novels from or about China, Japan and Europe. Who, someone asks, is Judge Dee?
  12.  

  13. Being a Catholic young woman, doing my duty as teacher and wife meant that I completely missed all the literary action in Montreal in the 1960s and in Ontario in the 1970s. Missed most of anything interesting or fun. As a result, I keep hearing of the things that should be part of my history. What I remember is being nine months pregnant with my personal Centennial project as I heaved myself around Expo, and the digging of the trench for the Decarie Expressway.
  14.  

  15. Jobs: Final finishing, inside and out of a concrete yacht has given me a horror of sanding down anything. Shopgirl in the departments of Refrigeration and Air Conditioners (Eatons), Housewares (Morgan?s) and Women?s Clothing (Morgan?s, now The Bay). I can fold sweaters and keep sweater sets together expertly. Sweater sets are out of style now, but it?s part of my skillset. Shopgirl at Presents, wondering what I was doing selling nothing that was important to anyone. Selling, period.
  16.  

  17. High school graduation dance night meant first visiting the Congregation of Notre Dame nuns who had taught me. I was shy because of what I considered my low-cut neckline. Arthur and I sat on two of the 24 upright chairs placed around the convent parlour. All the others remained unoccupied. I was the only graduate who had taken the nuns up on their invitation; we got all the attention and much of the cake. Afterwards, I was blown away by the Queen Elizabeth Hotel Ballroom. At 16, I figured I?d hit the big time. At an all-night party afterwards, a couple of the girls in my class who had looked down on me for four years tried to steal my gorgeous boyfriend. It was the first time anyone had envied me. I treasure the memory. We and two other couples (think long crinolined dresses) stuffed ourselves into a taxi to the top of Mount Royal to watch the sunrise.
  18.  

  19. It has been terribly difficult at times living with a husband who never gains an ounce and who says ?no? to the second piece of chocolate cake.
  20.  

  21. I am a Pisces who doesn?t like being in water if it?s not warm and in a bathtub, full of bubbles. Candles and wine, please. Another wet person at the other end of the tub, no matter what size tub.
  22.  

  23. I once made a plaster frontal bodycast from a friend?s nude body. She?d vaselined all over herself except for her pubic hair. Her pain as she nailscissored herself out of the cast notwithstanding, it was a hit with her boyfriend of the time.

 

Claudia Coutu Radmore is known for her Japanese form poems, as well as for her lyric poetry. Her poem ?where language forms? won second place in the 2010 Banff Centre Bliss Carman Awards and Accidentals, (Apt. 9 Press, Ottawa), won the 2011 bpNichol Award.

Recent series have been Qui annus est?/ What year is this?, poems in response to: 13 — 18, PHOTOGRAPHS BY OLIVIA JOHNSTON at the Red Wall Gallery (SPAO Ottawa), and saturation, the joy of, in response to TILT, ORCHID PHOTOGRAPHS BY JAKE MORRISON at the Orange Gallery, Ottawa.

For more information about Accidentals and to purchase a copy, please visit the Apt. 9 Press website.

1 comment

Claudia, it is such fun to know these things, whether you invented them or not! I love the plaster cast with pubic hair on the inside. It's great to know you, one of the best long-term things to come of Storyfest Hudson. I'll remember our visit to the Poets' Cemetary differently in the wake of the peaches story. xo

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