Gutteridge, Don(ald George)
GUTTERIDGE, Don(ald George)
Nationality: Canadian. Born: Sarnia, Ontario, 30 September 1937. Education: Chatham Collegiate Institute, Ontario, 1956; University of Western Ontario, London, 1956–60, 1962–63, B.A. (honors) 1960. Family: Married Anne Barnett in 1961; one daughter and one son. Career: English teacher, Elmira School Board, Ontario, 1960–62; teaching fellow, University of Western Ontario, 1962–63; head of the department of English, Ingersoll School Board, Ontario, 1963–64, and London Board of Education, Ontario, 1964–68; assistant professor, 1968–74, associate professor, 1975–77, and since 1977 professor of English methods, then professor emeritus, University of Western Ontario. Awards: President's Medal, University of Western Ontario, 1971; Canada Council travel grant, 1973. Address: 114 Victoria Street, London, Ontario N6A 2B5, Canada.
The Brooding Sky. Privately printed, 1960.
New Poems 1964. Privately printed, 1965.
Other Wood: New Poems. Privately printed, 1966.
Intimations of Winter: Poems for the Latter Half of 1966. New York, Bitterroot Press, 1967.
Riel: A Poem for Voices. Fredericton, New Brunswick, Fiddlehead, 1968; revised edition, Toronto, Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1972.
The Village Within: Poems Towards a Biography. Fredericton, New Brunswick, Fiddlehead, 1970.
Death at Quebec and Other Poems. Fredericton, New Brunswick, Fiddlehead, 1971.
Perspectives. London, Ontario, Pennywise Press, 1971.
Saying Grace: An Elegy. Fredericton, New Brunswick, Fiddlehead, 1972.
Coppermine: The Quest for North. Ottawa, Oberon Press, 1973.
Borderlands. Ottawa, Oberon Press, and London, Dobson, 1975.
Tecumseh. Ottawa, Oberon Press, 1976.
A True History of Lambton County. Ottawa, Oberon Press, 1977; London, Dobson, 1978.
God's Geography. Ilderton, Ontario, Brick, 1982.
The Exiled Heart: Selected Narratives, 1968–1982. Ottawa, Oberon Press. 1986.
Love in the Wintertime. Ottawa, Oberon Press, 1990.
Flute Music in the Cello's Belly. London, Ontario, Moonstone Press, 1997.
Bus-Ride. Nairn, Ontario, Nairn Publications, 1974.
All in Good Time. Windsor, Ontario, Black Moss Press, 1980.
St. Vitus Dance. London, Ontario, Drumlin, 1987.
Shaman's Ground. London, Ontario, Drumlin, 1988.
How the World Began: A Parable of 1812. Goderich, Ontario, Moonstone Press, 1991.
Summer's Idyll. Ottawa, Oberon Press, 1993.
Winter's Descent. Ottawa, Oberon Press, 1996.
Language and Expression: A Modern Approach (textbook). Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, 1970.
The Country of the Young. London, Ontario, University of Western Ontario, 1978.
Brave Season: Reading and the Language Arts in Grades Seven to Ten. London, Ontario, Althouse Press, 1983.
Incredible Journeys: New Approaches to the Novel in Grades 7–10 (handbook). London, Ontario, Althouse Press, 1986; revised edition, 1990.
The Dimension of Delight: A Study of Children's Verse-Writing, Ages 11–13. London, Ontario, Althouse Press, 1988.
Stubborn Pilgrimage: Resistance and Transformation in Ontario English Teaching, 1960–1993. Toronto, Our Schools/Our Selves Education Foundation, 1994.
Teaching English: Theory and Practice from Kindergarten to Grade Twelve. Toronto, James Lorimer, 1999.
Editor, Rites of Passage. Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, 1979.
Editor, Mountain and Plain. Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, 1998.*
Manuscript Collection: D. B. Weldon Library, University of Western Ontario, London.
Critical Studies: Survival: Themes in Canadian Literature by Margaret Atwood, Toronto, Anansi, 1971; "Rivering of Vision" by David Cavanagh, in Alive (Guelph, Ontario), August 1973; "Tecumseh" by D.H. Sullivan, in West Coast Review (Burnaby, British Columbia), January 1978; A Native Heritage: Images of the Indian in English-Canadian Literature by Leslie Monkman, Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 1981; "Don Gutteridge's Mythic Tetralogy" by Keith Garebian, in Canadian Literature (Vancouver), winter 1981; interview with Dennis Cooley, in CV 2 (Winnipeg), August 1982; "Places in Time: Poetry of Historical Roots" by Peter Baltensberger, in CV 2 (Winnipeg), September 1983; R.G. Moyle, in Journal of Canadian Poetry (Ottawa), 1986; The Native in Literature: Canadian and Comparative Perspectives by Thomas King, Cheryl Calver and Helen Hoy, Toronto, ECW Press, 1987.
Don Gutteridge comments:
One of our poets has called Canada a "country without a mythology"; little wonder, then, that my work—like that of many Canadian writers—is concerned with the sense of place and the perspective of time, with roots into the past and what myths can be made in the face of such vast geography and empty stretches of history. My work takes two forms: personal poems about my childhood village and narrative poems on Canadian historical figures (real and imagined). Though quite different in content and form, these two types are related in that they share my concern for making something of my own past as well as that of my country and my belief, however naive, that the two are somehow connected. Since 1978 I have turned more and more to fiction as a vehicle to continue this dual exploration of personal and public history.* * *
I sometimes think that there is a dramatist lurking within Don Gutteridge and that had the poet been born in a society with a stronger sense of drama he might be writing for the stage rather than for the page. Having said that, let me backtrack by adding that inside the man there is, as well as the dramatist, the lyricist who increasingly finds expression in a lyrical rather than a dramatic manner. Certainly Gutteridge's own work has oscillated between the poles of dramatic, historical works and private, personal lyrics.
Like so many Canadian poets, Gutteridge feels close to historical movements of the often slighted past. Death at Quebec and Other Poems offers monologues by early Jesuit missionaries from France. Riel: A Poem for Voices is the first of a number of volumes of free verse devoted to the difficult relationship between the Indian inhabitants of the land and the white European settlers. It is possible to see these poems as well as poems in subsequent volumes as collections of dramatic monologues, even pensées, some written in contemporary idiom, some derived from the idiom of the times in question. A sense of the style and substance may be gleaned from this passage attributed to the métis leader and martyr Louis Riel:
When my body
swings like a
from the white—man's
will there be
to tell …
Rather like the historian Francis Parkman, Gutteridge has attempted to make into his own the history of the northern half of the North American continent. It is safe to say that if these historical periods are of interest then the book-length poem is of interest.
The regional poetry of Gutteridge is somewhat similar and appears in collections that form a loose series called "Time Is the Metaphor." These poems are somewhat less adventurous, which is curious since such book-length collections of poems as A True History of Lambton County and God's Geography employ many of the same methods as do the historical works in their attempt to make the overall point that history is another word for human passion. The past runs into the present, and any consideration of the present requires a reconsideration of the past. The author composes the regional poems in the same way that he does the historical works, mainly through counterpointing public and private worlds, with found and original materials interspersed with lyrical asides.
Gutteridge's personal poems are less grand, more quiet than the somewhat impersonal historical works. In such autobiographical collections as The Village Within the poet finds significance and perhaps solace in statements that are at once personal and powerful. In the long impressionistic poem "Saying Grace: An Elegy" the poet writes moving lines that are at once moody and quirky yet above all effective:
Death does not
"take us," it
moves into the
The sprightly style and spirit are welcome additions to the somewhat sobering personal poems that make up Love in the Wintertime. "Say Uncle" ends with an evocation of death:
May you prosper
here among those you love
amid the vast village
of stars and fostering suns.
"Said and Done" concludes on a human note:
After all is said,
a simple hello
how are you
I love you
would have done.
—John Robert Colombo