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Judith Fitzgerald

Judith Fitzgerald was a Canadian journalist, critic, poet, and editor with a broad range of interests, from culture, media, and art to sports, music, and others.  Born in Toronto in 1952, she earned a B.A. and M.A. from the York University and pursued a doctoral degree at the University of Toronto. A literary journalist, Judith Fitzgerald had a distinctive voice and an outstanding talent. She died in 2015 at the age of 63 in her home in Port Loring.

Life

Fitzgerald had a difficult life and early childhood. Born to a mother who was a grade 6 dropout, she had many brothers and sisters by different men. She even recalls her mother working as a prostitute. Most of her children were removed for adoption by the social workers, with only three children left at home – Judith, her sister Maggie, and her brother Robert. Maggie died at the age of 29. The three children were neglected, beaten, and starved, and her brother Robert was forced to scavenge for food. Their mother and stepfather refused to spend money on clothing and she had just one sweater and a dress to wear at school. With the help of her teachers, young Judith was moved into foster care at the age of 13.

Fitzgerald had a difficult life and sometimes lived on loans or money given by friends. During different periods she lived on income support and on welfare. At the same time, she was quite adept at applying for and obtaining government grants. Research published at Quill & Quire shows that the received $154,000 in grants in just 10 years.

Her biggest love was Juan Butler, a Canadian novelist and the author of three books – Canadian Healing Oil, The Garbageman, and Cabbagetown Diary: A Documentary. In 1981, Butler committed suicide. Fitzgerald had many health problems, including acute respiratory distress syndrome, celiac disease, cervical cancer, and osteoporosis. She developed acute respiratory distress syndrome in hospital in 2002 after a money dispute. Fitzgerald was severely beaten by 3 men and ended up in hospital a couple of days later. After this episode, she left the area and moved to Port Loring where she received income support. She died from a massive heart attack on 25 November, 2015. Her friends describe her as vengeful, demanding, and needy, the way abused and neglected children are.

Work and Accomplishments

Judith Fitzgerald’s Today’s Country featured country music artists and was awarded the Canadian Country Music Award. Among her many accomplishments are poetry and music columns for the Toronto Star and blogs produced for the Globe and Mail. Fitzgerald was also a prolific poet with a long list of brilliant poetry works: Rapturous Chronicles (1991), Diary of Desire (1987), My Orange Gorange (1985), Beneath the Skin of Paradise (1984), and many others. Recent poetry works include O, Clytaemnestra!  (2007), Electra’s Benison (2006), and Orestes’ Lament (2007).

She is also the editor of books such as the First Person Plural (1988) and SP/ELLES: Poetry by Canadian Women (1986).  Judith Fitzgerald authored, edited, and co-edited more than 20 books, including poetry, biographical works, and prose. She is the coeditor of The Spirit of Indian Women, Christian Spirit, Indian Spirit: Revised & Enlarged, and others. Fitzgerald also worked as a writer-in-residence for the University of Windsor, the Laurentian University, the Agloma University College, and the Hamilton Public Library.

100 novels that make you proud to be Canadian: http://www.cbc.ca/books/100-novels-that-make-you-proud-to-be-canadian-1.4194710

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