Souvenirs of the revolution

Shortly after George was nominated Poet Laureate he sold the Kerrisdale house he’d lived in for decades. During the cleanup, preparatory to moving to Ottawa, my poster turned up.

It was given to me in 1962 in Havana by Maria Rosa Almendros. I had rolled it up with a few other posters (all long gone) and mailed it back to Montreal. Otherwise it would not have escaped the Yankee pigs (or worms) who stole everything I brought back with me through Miami.

It depicts two heroes of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel on the right with Camilo Cienfuegos. I met Fidel and I met the parents of Camilo but Camilo himself was dead by the time I got to Cuba. His plane was shot down in October 1959. His body was never found.

In 1965 Dave Dubnie, Joan Payne, and I drove from Montreal to Vancouver, stopping to visit George and Angela Bowering in Calgary. A few of my things, including the poster were in the trunk of the car. George was overseas but we spent an hour or two with Angela and I guess I must have shown her the poster and forgotten to put it back in the car because I didn’t see it again for forty years.

George spent some years in London, and in Montreal, and perhaps elsewhere so there was little, if any, contact in all this time. Why or how the poster came up in conversation with Renee Rodin in the early nineties I don’t know but she mentioned seeing it on Bowering’s wall. A few years after that I finally sent him a note and he said he remembered the poster but hadn’t seen it in years. Then that day in 2001 or 2, his daughter Thea called to inform me of it’s discovery, in perfect condition amid the accumulation of a lifetime of flotsam and jetsam.

Of course, if I hadn’t forgotten it in Calgary it would have lasted a year or two at most. I’d have tacked it to my wall or wrecked it some other way and lost it permanently, for sure. So thanks, George.

Tomorrow I’ll show you some of the other things Maria Rosa gave me.

sidenote: Sometime in the last 10 or 20 years I learned to my fascination and delight that Maria Rosa Almendros was the sister of esteemed cinematographer Néstor Almendros, who shot, among other things, Days of Heaven, Ma Nuit Chez Maud, and dozens more.

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