Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Podcast: Interview with Judith Fitzgerald (1985)

Poet Judith Fitzgerald (1952-2015) passed away on November 25.
From 1981 to 1989, I was assistant producer and co-host of the radio show On the Arts, at CJRT-FM (today Jazz 91.1) in Toronto. With the late Tom Fulton, who was the show's prime host and producer, we did a half-hour interview program where we talked to artists from all fields. It was during that time that I first met and spoke with Canadian poet Judith Fitzgerald, who died last month at the age of 63.

Judith Fitzgerald did more than write verse. She was also a journalist and critic, as well as an editor and avid baseball fan. At the time I first met her in 1985 when her poetry collection, Given Names, was published, she was already a potent media critic in the Globe and Mail who had strong views on politics. When the Canadian Free Trade debate was raging, for instance, she took me to Massey Hall to attend a protest concert against the deal and I still recall her enraged voice cutting and echoing through the din of the performances from the stage.

She was dynamic, funny, razor sharp and a real beauty with a sweetness for life that was never cloying. We would talk together many times during the Eighties. But I thought I'd include our first conversation as a tribute today because besides tracing her sensibility as a writer, you can also hear the kindred spiritedness of a friendship beginning to bloom.

– Kevin Courrier.

Here is the full interview with
Judith Fitzgerald as it aired on CJRT-FM in 1985.

Tom Fulton was the host and producer of On the Arts for CJRT-FM in Toronto for 23 years, beginning in 1975.
Kevin Courrier is a freelance writer/broadcaster, film critic and author (Dangerous Kitchen: The Subversive World of Zappa, Randy Newman's American Dreams33 1/3 Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask ReplicaArtificial Paradise: The Dark Side of The Beatles Utopian Dream). Courrier teaches part-time film courses to seniors through the LIFE Institute at Ryerson University in Toronto and other venues. His forthcoming book is Reflections in the Hall of Mirrors: American Movies and the Politics of Idealism. 


  1. Lovely interview, Kevin. Thank you.

  2. I went to school with Judith at York and, with my class, dined with her and our prof in her flat. She asked where my husband was: I told her he was in surgery but if he got out early he would come over. She looked quite startled and taken aback but said nothing. Later alone with me in her kitchen, she asked how I could be so unconcerned about him. I realized that she didn't know he was a medical intern and had assumed he was being operated on. We'd been in that small class weekly for eight or nine months and she hadn't taken that in. I was shocked that I'd shocked her. But now I understand that she would assume wounding while I spoke 'and what do you do?'. Different registers. I watched for her books of poetry as they came out. They were so raw. I am shaken to hear that she was assaulted and left for dead in Sundridge but survived. She was frail and intense, bird-like and gorgeous. Biting and humourous conversation at supper. Take no prisoners when not impressed by our vain prof's puffery. Nov 25 is my birthday.
    This was a thoughtful, gracious and substantive interview.