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Ruth Taylor Obituary In The Globe & Mail Today

Ruth Taylor has died, February 18, 2006.

She was a friend of mine, and one of the best poets of her generation. I fondly recall reading and talking with her on The Main, at Concordia, and elswehere in Montreal, in the late 80s and early 90s, before I moved to Europe.

Below please find a brief biographical sketch:

Ruth Taylor was born in 1961, in Lachine, Quebec. She received a BA from McGill University and an MA in Creative Writing from Concordia University. She published two major poetry collections, The Drawing Board and The Dragon Papers. She was the editor of the anthology Muse On! which selected work from authors published by the small, but influential press The Muses Company. She taught for many years at John Abbot College, on The West Island. She was a significant part of the Anglo poetry scene in Montreal since 1979, when she burst on to it as a prodigy.

rob mclennan has more at his blog here:

Here is the latest, an obituary published in The Montreal Gazette:

A restless spirit 'always on the brink of combustion'
English literature teacher wrote poetry and found wonder in everything around her

ALAN HUSTAK, The Gazette

Published: Sunday, March 05, 2006

Ruth Taylor, who taught English literature at John Abbott College for 20 years and had two slim volumes of her poems published, was an often troubled spirit who, nevertheless, made a deserving impression on Montreal's English-language literary scene.

Brash but vulnerable, she died of alcohol poisoning in her house in Notre Dame de Grace on Feb. 18 at the age of 44.

"Ruth lived at an intensity that was always on the brink of combustion," Endre Farkas, a mentor and friend who was also her first publisher, told mourners at her funeral.

"She was driven by a child-like innocence that found wonder in everything around her and a mystical calling that left her profoundly alone.

"Ruth didn't have an easy life. She was hard on herself and could be on others. She could be at one moment intensely loving and profound and the next frustratingly petulant and pushy and self-centred. ... She wasn't good at politesse and, therefore, was not able to navigate the world that is too much with us."

Ruth Taylor was born in Lachine on Jan. 10, 1961, and was raised in Pincourt, where she went to St. Patrick school. She studied at John Abbott College, where she edited Bandersnatch and Locus, John Abbot's literary magazine.

Her first book of poetry, The Drawing Board, published in 1988, was followed by The Dragon Papers, which was shortlisted for the Quebec Writers Federation Award in 1993.

A Gazette review of The Dragon Papers by Anna Asimakopulos praised Taylor's "precocious display of poetic skill," and described it as "a wild and magical collection."

"Taylor is unabashedly erudite," Asimakopulos wrote.

"Her poems teem with mythical and literary allusions. Words spill out onto the page like secretions, as sinuous, sensuous and challenging as the dragons serve as both subject and metaphor.

"Part of what makes The Dragon Papers such a joy to read is its playfulness. In the opening pages, Taylor's poet-persona invokes the Muses, calling "O Calliope's cyclopean cantaloupes./O Polly's perfect hymen./O Euterpe's usurping ukulele underwear."

Taylor was a wide-eyed, wild eyed bohemian with a mischievous smile who played guitar and excelled at calligraphy.

"She was into magic in an Irish kind of way," freelance theatre critic Janet Coutts, a longtime friend, recalled.

"She was always aware of beauty and of what underlies reality.

"She could be infuriatingly direct, but she was practical. Her difficulty was that she was always engaged in two struggles at the same time, fighting for her life and fighting to end it."

Taylor enrolled in McGill University in 1989 but received her master's degree in English literature from Concordia University in 1993.

She returned to teach English literature at John Abbott College.

She took part in and was a tireless organizer of numerous readings and spoken word festivals. It is expected her last book, Comet Wine, will be published posthumously.

One of the poems from the collection:
So in our limited hours we play
at mixing potions, trading schemes and chords
and making slim chances guard the hoards
in Energy's smithy tempting swords
to blades of strong grass and drinking gourds
and midnight pipes that chase the light
into dancing dawn's first ray.

Her marriage to Nicolas Keyserlingk ended in divorce. She is survived by her son, Emmett, her mother, and a brother.

A poetic and musical celebration of her life and her poetry will be held at O'Hara's pub, 1197 University St., March 25 at 8 p.m.

Ruth's obituary in the national newspaper, The Globe & Mail, by MJ Stone, was published April 11, 2006, and can be found here:


Hi Todd.

I hope you don't mind but I quoted this post in my own weblog (along with links back to yours and rob McLennan's blogs) so I could add it to my own meagre tribute to Ruth.

I knew her, briefly, during my time at John Abbott, and had the good fortune to have attended the same high school she did.

I didn't maintain much contact with her after 1993 when I graduated but still...she was incredible, wasn't she?
Jack Ruttan said…
Holy cow. First Mr. George, now I read this. It's a lot to bear. Poor Ruth. I didn't know her that well, except as part of the scene, but she was always flamboyant, and fun to see. Once at the Cabane, she came over to our table, and without warning, or explanation, kissed me full on the lips, and left.

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