The Ontario Poetry Society
- Presents The 2012 Ted Plantos Memorial Award Winner -

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Members' Poetry


Ted Plantos






Ruth Latta

Congratulations to Ruth Latta, in recognition of being selected
the 2012 recipient of The Ted Plantos Memorial Award.

I heartily endorse Ruth Latta as this year's recipient of the Ted Plantos Memorial. Her formal poetry is accomplished and letter perfect.
Her rhymes are natural and vivid and assured. There isn't a false step made, and the neo-formalism of her verse reads as authentic,
where much of the new formalism written by others reads as artificial or forced and leaves me cold as a reader, her villanelle is delightful, lighthearted, and natural in the vein of Dylan Thomas or Theodore Rothke. Rhubarb and Daffodils is deeply moving with exactly the right blend of narrative particular and lyric strength to carry the reader through this moving bond between nonegenarian mother and aging daughter. "Spring is fragile/and could vanish" the song of the jay singing "loudly enough for old ears"--not that jays sing exactly, but the meaning comes through. Ruth Latta is a very worthy recipient who honours the memory of Ted Plantos with these deeply moving and profound poems. She confirms her influences with dedication to Dylan Thomas and Gerard Manley Hopkins and she does those influences proud.

John B. Lee, Poet Laureate of Brantford

Some of Ruth's Poetry
Visit Ruth's Website


No leaves yet
and the wind is cold,
but daffodils bravely sway
and rhubarb rustles
as we make our way outdoors.
Mother, 90 in June,
after a winter of illness,
leans on my arm.
I carry a kitchen chair
with my other hand
as we cross the yard.

She sits as I snip stems
and flowers for a friend.
"Strawberry rhubarb
is the sweetest
and makes the best pies," she says.
"The daffodils are small, now.
The bulbs are old, that's why.
Listen! Was that a bird?"
A kindly jay flew overhead,
singing of spring
loudly enough for old ears.

The daffodils, the fresh earth smell
and occasional sunbeams
calm me,
but the trees are still bare
and in the bush lie bits of snow.
Spring is fragile
and could vanish
in the twinkling of an eye
like the sun
disappearing behind heaven's clouds.


(This poem appeared in the Canadian Writers' Journal)


Don't tell me of Eliot's coffee spoons.
Earl Grey measures out my day.
Half-empty teacups dot the rooms
where I pause but do not stay.

There's a cup on the upstairs bookcase,
crowding the volumes for space,
and a mug on the dining room table
making rings on the plastic lace.

Downstairs there are manuscripts everywhere
and only tea to drink.
There's another cup in the laundry room
teetering on the sink.

At the keyboard I hunch and write
stories both strange and sane
and often a page of perfect prose
bears a circular brown tea stain.


(This poem, which appeared in Poets' Podium,
is a homage to Gerard Manley Hopkins' poem "Pied Beauty,"
which begins, "Glory be to God for dappled things.")


Glory be to God for dappled friends
whose hands show age spots like a Holstein cow.
Praise wrinkled faces, salt-and-pepper hair,
their shaky voices saying, "It depends,"
their words of insight that can show me how
to face life's challenges without despair.

Fragmented memories, half-forgotten dreams --
these bits of information aid me now.
Among the jumbled paste I find a gem.
Like autumn leaves, friends fall so fast, it seems.
Praise them



I wrote a condolence letter to the author
of a poem about a father's death.

Morris, the father,
showed great enthusiasm for my manuscript on the 1930s,
but we'd never met.

Tom's reply -- warm, well-worded --
included a poem
on a par with Dylan's "Do not go gentle."

At one time I would have been star-struck
over a personal letter from a famous poet
who reads at Harbourfront
and who appears in literary magazines
beyond my reach.

Looking out at the three feet of
grit-encrusted snow
I picture him in the towering trees
and mountain valleys of the rainforest,
and am pleased that our fingertips
touched across the miles
if only for a moment.

The connection is tenuous,
for what do we have in common
but a love for poetry
and those who tried to change the world,
and too much experience of death?

We're like two middle-aged war correspondents
reeling on a slippery battlefield,
mourning the many fallen,
enshrining them in words for unknown readers.

I have put Tom's letter in my scrapbook.



We'll talk and smile and keep our spirits high
Our days are just a twinkling -- that we know.
We'll drink to life beneath the August sky.

We both hate aging and we wonder why
Time flies when once it used to be so slow
We'll talk and smile and keep our spirits high.

I couldn't let this special day slip by
We'll marvel at the things we two now know.
We'll drink to life beneath the August sky

And though we sometimes steal away and cry
For olden days and those who loved us so
We'll talk and smile and keep our spirits high.

And though some preachers say the end is nigh
Your candles in the dark will blaze and glow
We'll drink to life beneath the August sky.

We'll talk of young folk growing wings to fly
Of childhood birthdays of so long ago
We'll talk and smile and keep our spirits high.

We'll drink to life beneath the August sky.



(to my niece Carla, and with respect for Dylan Thomas,
who wrote "Fern Hill")

Now when I was just a rug rat under the poplar leaves
above the Leghorn house, complacent as the sky was blue,
the life we led was simple - very:
nourished on Blossom's milk,
veggies from the garden at the front;
school lunches in wax-paper; we'd no plastic in those sad days --
the groceries cardboard box a-rattling in the pick-up truck
or in paper bags -- brownest,
no nice plastic in those awful days.

You're so right my dear to stockpile wonderful plastic bags.
Oh, save a plastic bag, for wasting is a sin, so wrong!
Why, 'twas within my lifetime only
God gave these bags to us,
unruined and unleaking in the rain.
So pure and dazzing, for the book store and food store, you know
they are so fine, no boxes or brown bags so handy-like,
and they rustle so sweetly
in unbiodegradable joy.


This poem won third prize in the Valley Writers' Guild's
"The Joker is Wild" contest in April 2001.

sort of
day, muggy,
that makes you
recall the melting clocks
in Salvador Dali's painting
"The Disintegration of the Persistence
of Memory"; the type of sultry day when
after your usual thirty minute walk around
the block, your spine melts into the sofa cushions
and you fall asleep doing your Reiki to the strains
of "The Lark in the Clear Air," except that today it
would be "The Lark in a Haze,"and the cat is a bundle of
hot wet fur at your feet as you wait for thunder
to pound and break the suspended stillness,
and lightning to zig-zag
through the sky.


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