Cynthia Wilson: A Eulogy

Before 1991 when Cynthia Wilson brought Caitlin Press to Prince George, a colleague in another college division asked me if I knew any writers who could go on a reading tour to a number of towns here in the north. I thought, gee, I'm pretty visible as a poet and writer, but I guess in this case, not. I immediately said, "Yes, I know lots of writers" -- and in the second breath recommended Viv Loughheed and Sid Marty. My second recommendation was Leonard Cohen and Margaret Atwood. My colleague, at this point, didn't know who or what the hell I was talking about. I've come to call this the state of fame, literature, and the life of letters for a writer in in Prince George.

Cynthia, however, had a hand in changing my literary situation in a very large and generous way. Just after she bought Caitlin she asked me if I had a book ready to publish. I said, "gee, YES!"-- knowing at that moment she had damn good taste, timing, and overall damn good judgement. I reached into my briefcase -- stuffed also with 100 unmarked student themes on "Jack Frost the Nature Poet "(-- "he writes good poems about nature, but is really sad, has a queer horse and when he comes to the fork in the road, takes it!") -- and handed her a draft of Pulp Log. Within that year, the book appeared. But the amazing thing is, that this, her first real dive into what T.S Eliot called a mugs game -- won us both the Dorothy Livesay Best Book of BC poetry award for that year. Fame at last! and a royalty check of 127.00.

But I wanted to say -- and all of us here know the odds we're up against -- that life in Prince George and the north can be hard -- a difficult context -- a place full of resistances that ironically can create a stubborness, and inspire one's energy and commitment. I believe Cynthia wanted to -- and she said this many times to me -- give something to the larger community. And in doing that with the press, she created this little community of writers -- most of them here tonight to pay their respect and give thanks. As you know, she was diffident, unassuming and wary of public recoginition. She left town quietly before we could have this event when she was alive to hear our tribute to her work and friendship.

D.H. Lawrence beautfully wrote in Lady Chatterly's Lover, that the catyclysm has happened, we are among the ruins, we start to build up new little habitats, to have new little hopes. It is rather hard work

Cynthia Wilson was one of the necessary cultural workers: Caitlin Press gave us a new little habitat, the press gave us new little hopes. She made us a place.

we'll remember cynthia wilson