OBITUARY

Edward Dickinson Blodgett

February 26, 1935November 15, 2018

Edward Dickinson (Ted) Blodgett was born in 1935 and received a PhD in comparative literature from Rutgers. In 1966, he began a long teaching career at the University of Alberta. Later in life, he moved to South Surrey (near Vancouver), BC. As a scholar and literary critic, Ted wrote extensively about and promoted Canadian and medieval literature and inspired generations of students to love literature and poetry. He read widely in many languages. He was, above all, a poet and published close to 30 books of poetry, for which he received two Governor General’s Awards as well as awards from the Writers Guild of Alberta and the Canadian Authors Association. He was a co-founder of the Writers Guild of Alberta, served as Writer in Residence at MacEwan University (2004) and Edmonton’s Poet Laureate (2007-09), and was named to the City of Edmonton’s Arts and Culture Hall of Fame (2011). He taught in many countries, including Austria, Germany, and France. In 1986 he was named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. He sang with the Richard Eaton Singers, played the renaissance lute, loved birds, played squash, and was an Oilers fan back in the days of Mark Messier. After he retired as Distinguished University Professor Emeritus, he held the Louis Desrochers Chair in Études canadiennes, Campus Saint-Jean. In his retirement on the west coast he continued to sing in choirs, play the lute, travel, read, and write poetry. Ted had an insatiable curiosity, as much about the person sitting next to him as about the lives of people who lived decades or centuries earlier and worlds away. He will be remembered for his love of a good story, his booming laugh, and his head thrown back in laughter. He called a spade a spade but had the grace to laugh when someone threw the shovel back at him. He was devoted and generous to his friends, and his children shared his great love of the arts with him. Ted was predeceased by his first wife, Elke, and his sister Anne. He will be deeply missed by his wife of 27 years, Irena; his children, Gunnar, Astrid (Herb), Kirsten (Will), and Peter (Lisa); his grandchildren, Geoffrey (Mikayla), David, Bronwen, Emily, Charlotte, Sarah, Andrew, and Benjamin; his sister Linda and her family; and many friends and former students. Celebrations of his life will be held at a later date in Edmonton and Vancouver.

REMEMBERING

Edward Dickinson Blodgett

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Karin Beeler

December 12, 2018

I was a graduate student in the Comparative Literature department and enjoyed learning about Canadian literatures and medieval literatures during my studies at the University of Alberta. He was always genuinely interested in different perspectives and was so encouraging during class discussions. My husband Stan and I thank him for his academic support during our years as postdoctoral fellows and early career scholars. Our deepest condolences to Irena and the rest of the Blodgett family.

Karin Beeler

Susan McCaslin

November 20, 2018

I first met Tod Blodgett in 2011 in Calgary, where we were both reading from our recent volumes of poetry published by the University of Alberta Press. I looked up, way up, into the eyes of this gentle giant of a poet. Not long afterwards, Ted and his lovely wife Irena moved to Surrey, BC, not that far from where my husband Mark and I live near Fort Langley. We have many fond memories of our times together-- wine tours in the Fraser Valley, lovely meals and conversations, walks at Crescent Beach, discussions on the arts, politics, and poetry. I had the privilege of witnessing new poems for his Apostrophes series unfold, Songs for Dead Children, and the yet unpublished sequence he titled Walking into God. Don't assume Ted's use of the God-word is not conventionally theological, but original, spare, innovative, mysterious, revolutionary, evolutionary. Toward the end of his life the poems fountained through him in a terrific flow, sometimes up to three a day came rolling into my email box. I read them with astonishment and pleasure. Sometimes Ted would say, "I don't know where the poems come from." But the flow continued. His presence abides in his words, his poetry. We grieve his loss and celebrate his life. We send Irena, his family and friends our deepest condolences. Here is a token of appreciation for Ted in an elegy I wrote the day after his passing:

Breath-ful

in memory of E.D. Blodgett
(Feb. 26, 1936-Nov. 15, 2018)

when you were very small
the white
anemone
with the deep blue
centre
became
a tree
of wide-open
white petals
a being
its mere
whisper
a ghost
softly blowing
billowing
in the heart
of your heart
your first breath
your last
carrying you
now
here
there
far
wide
on sheer wind
breathing
that is
yours
not yours
mine
not mine
intimate
in all

John Brough

November 20, 2018

Every once in a while, you meet and make friends with someone who makes you a better person. Ted was one of those people.

I have many memories of him while he was a chorister at Holy Trinity Anglican church in Edmonton, and Richard Eaton Singers. A collaborative, giving and kind man.

He will be remembered only with fondness.

Lisa Moore

November 20, 2018

Prof Blodgett was one of my favourite people. His kindness and brilliance will never be forgotten by the people he taught.

Emmanuelle Rigaud LES ÉDITIONS DU BLÉ

November 20, 2018

C'est avec grande tristesse que les Éditions du Blé ont appris la disparition de Ted Blodgett, auteur de la maison et surtout grand Monsieur de la littérature canadienne, en français et en anglais, reconnu au pays et à l'international. Il a remporté de nombreux prix littéraires dont deux fois celui du Gouverneur Général pour sa poésie.
Sa plume, son enthousiasme et sa générosité vont nous manquer. Ce fut un plaisir de la recevoir au Manitoba, son lancement de "Horizons", recueil rassembleur dans ses mots, dan ses langues, fut un événement qui nous marquera. Un honneur de l'avoir eu a nos côtés. Nos pensées se tournent bien entendu vers sa famille et ses proches.

" Le hibou chantait la nuit
ou plutôt l’air

We heard the silence of
departed birds

Mozart parmi ses violons
papillon ivre"

Extrait de "Horizons" (2016).

Peter van den Bosch

November 18, 2018

I have warm memories of visits with Ted and Irena in their beautiful home, and particularly of occasional coffee meet-ups, usually so Ted could give me his generous and always on-the-mark feedback on a story of mine he’d asked for of his own accord (the message usually conveyed through Irena). Those coffees, in his preferred corner in the back of Pélican Rouge Café at which he also took soup and a sandwich, were always enlivened by anecdotes of the academic life and the tribulations of a poet negotiating the crazy contemporary world of publishing. It was gratifying to be able to tell him, less than a month ago, that a story of mine had been accepted for publication – at a magazine he heartily approved of. Had he read this story? No. Would I let him? Of course! He did read it and wanted to talk it over – another message conveyed through Irena – but alas, his declining strength would not permit another visit.

Farewell, Ted. Much strength, Irena, in this difficult time. May the love of your family and many friends carry you on your now, briefly, separate journeys.

Honey van den Bosch

November 18, 2018

Although we knew that Ted had a terminal illness, when we got the tiding of his passing, it shocked and saddened us greatly. It is very difficult to not having him around anymore.
I have been singing with Ted for years in various choirs in the Vancouver area. Living both in the White Rock Peninsula, we usually would travel together by car, sharing very interesting and often difficult conversations!
Like Ted and Irena, we also are long-time subscribers to the White Rock Concert Series and in the intermission we would meet up and exchange views and feelings about the music we had just heard.
We would go to and enjoy Ted’s poetry readings, where Ray Nurse would also be present with his lute.
We formed a ‘circle of friends’ and often and regularly go with Eric, Rose, Toni,
Olga, Vic and Janis (the two snowbirds) to have a luncheon and greatly enjoy each other’s company with lots of laughing, talking, telling jokes and stories. And the food!! - Right after, Ted would often ask: when will we have our next luncheon?
Our heartfelt condolences go to Irena and to Ted’s children; we wish them much strength to go through this very difficult time.
Au revoir Ted, dear friend; we will meet again! There will be lots of music,
poetry, books, all good things for us to enjoy then, with no end! - Till then!

Shyamal Bagchee

November 18, 2018

Not long after I arrived at UofA in 1976 Ted phoned to ask me to meet him in his office in Old Arts Building. The generous professor simply assumed that I had enough knowledge of Indian literatures and asked if I would care to teach two Comparative Literature graduate courses in that area. These had remained on the grad list for more than a decade and had been taught only once by a visiting scholar from India. It took some real effort to convince Ted of my deep and dark ignorance of the subject to accept the kindly offered task. Over the years I got to know and respect the immense learning and wisdom of Ted Blodgett, and I have little doubt that this was the only instance of his misjudging the learning of a colleague.
And I love and admire his skilful and sensitive poetry--and will continue to do so.

Lynn Penrod

November 17, 2018

I arrived on the campus of the University of Alberta in January of 1977. During a very cold week and in the middle of a late afternoon heavy snowfall, I was trudging through the snow on the pathway between Old Arts and HUB when I saw a gigantic figure headed my way. Dressed in a huge parka and wearing a large fur hat and mukluks...the figure came closer and closer. As we met he barked out, “You need a hat!!!!” I remember describing this person to a colleague the next day—and without hesitation, he said, “Oh, that’s Ted Blodgett, our very own Yeti!” Ted was indeed a special person and such a fine poet. Verbal sparring with him was a joy. And yes, I learned to wear a hat in Alberta winters. RIP

Bill Beard

November 17, 2018

Many, many dear memories of Ted. I attended his Chaucer class during his first year at the University of Alberta in 1967, and then, during the 1990s, was his departmental colleague. A generous man, an immensely learned man, a constantly engaging man, a great poet.