Colleen Thibaudeau Reaney, 1925-2012

Colleen Thibaudeau Reaney, poet and beloved wife of James Reaney, passed away on February 6, 2012 in London, Ontario. Colleen will long be remembered by her family, neighbours, and many friends.

Colleen’s poems and short stories have appeared in magazines and journals since 1945. Here is a poem Colleen wrote in 1984 in her book The Martha Landscapes.


The Star Over the House Quilt (Last night I dreamed…)

Last night I dreamed about you all under the Star Over the House Quilt;
I remember mother making it: the little squares of jonquil window lit
The doors, shutters often green. Your block has still the hollyhock (french knots)
Mine has the lilac (front yard), looking hard the lilacs still are blooming there,
The real ones down — time and town development don’t affect the quilt.

Each of us, house body, and the star, the star-filled head;
Each of us bedded down lifetime dreams the star-filled town
Waking goes walking the houses of our own making, talking the blocks away.
I might move into you taking on hollyhock            but it’s not
Me really just the dreaming of the star-filled head.

The Star Over the House Quilt she made it extra size;
Her eyes puzzled out each stitch; she declared her fingers to be all pricked
And she licked the blood from roofs, sidewalks, from the small yards
With the ever-blooming trees pointing to the stars
Of the Star Over the House Quilt.

Sheila and Colleen in St. Thomas, Ontario, 1942
Colleen Thibaudeau and James Reaney, 1949
James Reaney and Colleen Thibaudeau near Stratford, Ontario, 1982.

Update March 3, 2012:  In tribute to Colleen Thibaudeau and her work, the London Public Library, Brick Books, and Poetry London have commissioned a billboard with her poem “Balloon”. The billboard will go up sometime in the week of March 26, and there will be a a “Balloon” billboard launch on Saturday April 14 at 3:00 pm. The library is also printing postcards of “Balloon” to hand out during April, which is National Poetry Month.


7 Replies to “Colleen Thibaudeau Reaney, 1925-2012”

  1. I am so sorry to learn, through Brick Books, that Colleen has passed away. I have long been an admirer of her wonderful poetry and will miss the opportunity to read still more. My deepest condolences to the Reaney family. Colleen may be gone, but her fine words live on.

  2. Remembering Colleen….from my years in London Ont…what a gifted and inspiring woman!!!…I especially remember her from the Coop and at cultural events through the years, her dedication to poetry, her wide open spirit, her Celtic ‘faery-like’ awareness of all realities and levels of Being…I also knew James SR as one of my most inspired and gifted ‘profs’ at UWO–what an Amazing Couple…
    Dear Colleen–may your Journey into The Light be Bright, May Your Spirit of Dignity and Hope stay with us and help our human and earthly journeys…condolences to Family.

  3. I’m a 47 year old computer guy who is very, very forgetful. I haven’t thought about Colleen or read a single poem in many, many years. As I write this, it’s a work day and I’m busy. I wasn’t thinking about poets or poems. I was just trying to think of a phrase that I would not forget so that I could change my computer password. And through the clutter came Colleen’s voice, which I heard only once at a reading more than 25 years ago:

    “My granddaughters are combing out their long hair sitting at night on the rocks in Venezuela”.

    Thank you, Colleen, for this indelible ray of beauty.

  4. Here’s celebrating Colleen Thibaudeau Reaney! It was lovely to hear her poems again last night at London Library. And here’s to the brand new League of Canadian Poets prize for volunteers in poetry, the first winner to be announced on June 16 at the League AGM and Festival in S’Ask-a-Tune!

    Looking forward to seeing you there, Susan R! And thanks again for the very kind remarks, James! I had so much more to add about Colleen, but for the closing doors of the Library…:)

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