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poet, designer, Canada
Cheryl Cudmore in the 1980s.
I was born in 1955 in Prince Edward Island and grew up on the edge of
Charlottetown, the capital city of PEI. Early on, I showed an interest in
making story books, writing, illustrating and sewing them together on my
grandmother's sewing machine.
Through high school I lived for art classes. They were the happiest
moments of each week. My parents were indifferent towards art and wanted
me to study something more practical.
Before entering art college, I toured Europe for four months. I spent days
in galleries examining and sketching art. Evenings, I'd ink these drawings
in. I shot many rolls of film on an SLR camera. These materials became
my entrance portfolio for admission to college.
I entered the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in 1975 to study graphic
design for the next four years.
"We neeed, weee neeed deess,
We neeeed tahfah,
ceiling dancing like my sister dressed
Make stars with tahfah,
yellah, yellah, surlah, guaehm!
Yum, yum, yum!"
Purple cotton socks,
half off - half on...
"I lah you! Youlahmeee!"
...boisterous bounding feet,
dance with Barney:
Neat cornrow plaits
of spring-tight curls,
joined with a grin,
scents of sandalwood
on ebony skin.
"Come to auntie, snuggle in."
Nanoya has four tongues
Geedoo's lost his shoes
is all giggles and goos.
To Africa we'll go,
to help the Cause above.
We'll live with God in our hearts
and die in the arms of love.
November 14, 1997
for Nanoya, Geedoo and AytwaLAAAYshun Ugodo
At Christmas, 1979, I returned home to Prince Edward Island and three weeks
later I met my husband, Alan Bjorndal, through a mutual friend. We married
in 1981 and moved to Southern Ontario, where Alan worked as an audio-visual
technician and I found work in a large fast-paced design agency. Several
opportunities came to me in Southern Ontario but my husband fell ill with
what we thought at first was cancer. It later turned out to be sarchoid.
I was offered a job in a small design firm in Prince Edward Island and we
decided to return to the Island. We've lived and worked here since the
There have been a number of small significant artistic peaks over the years
such as agency work, employment with government, free-lancing and so on.
Becoming a mother has been a creative high point in unexpected ways. In
1988, I became the mother of Ted, who's now ten years old. Actually, work
has come about because of this and between 1993 and 1996, I was a publisher
and publicist for a nationwide education advocacy group which I became
involved with as a parent.
In 1982, while attending the Freedom Festival in Windsor Ontario, I was
taught the Bahá´í Faith by a Roman Catholic friend who had no intention
of embracing the Bahá´í Faith herself. What she told me interested me
and two years later, in 1984, I made an independent investigation by
borrowing library books on the Faith. Very shortly after these studies,
I became a Bahá´í. Before becoming a Bahá´í, my reasons for working
were driven primarily by practical, material concerns. Now, of course,
work is viewed as service to others and as worship as well as a means of
a livelihood. That has been a big shift in perspective for me.
As for poetry, I began by writing creative ad copy that rhymed as a
graphic designer. My first poetry was very dark and depressing. I
filled my first computer with this heavy stuff until at last the
hard-drive crashed and then it became a boat anchor. Currently, my
poetry is about being a lover. Influences from my background in
typography sometimes appear in it. The beauty of poetry is that it
allows me to make use of language in a very plastic elastic way at
times and yet say something meaningful. I love the brevity of poetry.
Some of my poems are concrete compositions which I paint. The beauty
was written for my son as a sort of nursery rhyme.
you cannot view
by studying one tree
the waves alone
but the entire sea
confine love not
but love humanity
then seek the beauty
of the Friend
in every face you see.
from his journals
she trades in her
o o o o p e n
w i n d o w s
u n l o c k e d
d o o o o o r s
from the sticks
2 voices at midnight
though by storms
we have been tried
you're still with me
at my side?
by His Will
in the air
the nonsotheby's collection
his tidy salt box
wherein she discovers
row upon row
of shining glass
and pickle jars
orange and green lentils
dried chili pepper
large rolled oats
nuts and bolts
from Grand Manan
meow chow kibble
and odd buttons
and odd buttons
Excerpts from Arts Dialogue, June 1998.
change of plan
Iíve often thought
if death were to sever me
Iíd find it again
in brief time.
How arrogant of me
to imagine myself
that I would have
Every day, we speak
days are too numerous
when in fact
there are too few.
If I do not see
the godly within you
Iím blind to God.
This seems to apply
equally to all.
Days might disappear
but for love.
Iíll fly to the sun
but youíll remain alone
because you doubted mine.
Arts Dialogue, June 2001.
ribbons of all colours
flutter suspended from night's
ceiling dancing like my sister dressed
in silken veils swirling poetic to sufi music
electromagnetic energy in the upper atmosphere
offers a holographic display of love from god
an aurora borealis for even the eyes of
night nesting hawks to behold
love pure dazzling love
Arts Dialogue, February 2000.
More of her work is at: www.moellenhoff.de/nonelist/art
Comments and feedback are welcome.
E-mail Cheryl Cudmore at:
alan.bjorndal *[AT]* pei.sympatico.ca
- Poem: change of plan, Arts Dialogue, June 2001
- Poem: northern lights, Arts Dialogue, February 2000
- Review: Arts Weekend, Arts Dialogue, December 1999
- Poem: tumbling sufi soles, Arts Dialogue, March 1999
Artist Profile: Arts Dialogue, June 1998
Arts Dialogue, Dintel 20, NL 7333 MC, Apeldoorn, The Netherlands