Tamsin Gilbert & Her Two Poet FathersMonday, July 13, 2009
Tamsin, Born 7:10 a.m.
i will write you poems for you
i will not
write poems for you
(what a wonderful morning
you are what
a wonderful morning you are)
when you were born
it was light
all was: the doctor’s white coat was
shining with your mother’s blood
her, my girl
this girl here
doing it all
to the least
& the morning
the most ordinary thing in the world
I took the above photograph to accompany Gilbert’s poem on his daughter Tamsin and both appeared in Vancouver Magazine, May 1986. I wrote about it here
Gerry Gilbert died June 19, 2009 on the day of Tamsin’s birthday. Today I ran into Tamsin Gilbert at the Railway Club. She said, “Hi, Alex.” I stared at her even though the voice was the same and her hair was the same. I did not know who she was. She looked different. She looked different not because she was older (45 I think she told me she was) but because her face was softer. She was happier than she was when I photographed her for the second time (and the last time I saw her until today) in my former Yaletown studio on Hamilton Street (in 1986 I could afford to share a studio with a fashion photographer because Yaletown had yet to be discovered by yuppies. In 1986 I saw a resemblance between Tamsin Gilbert and Charlotte Rampling, see photograph below. Using the window lighting of my studio I tried to press Gilbert into that mold and I may have succeeded so well that I didn’t recognize today the real Tamsin Gilbert.
“Why are you in town, Tamsin,” I asked her. “To take Gerry with me,” she answered. She explained that her father had been cremated and she was taking his ashes home. Sometime in August a memorial service is planned and Tamsin Gilbert will spread Gerry’s ashes into the sea at Kitsilano.
Tamsin Gilbert is a much happier woman. I could discern contentment and peace in her face. When she was a baby her mother separated from Gerry and re-married poet John Newlove. At any given time in her life her father was always a poet. I wonder what is in store for Tamsin on her island home of Saltspring? One, who might be able to guess, is her daughter. After all her two grandfathers were poets and her name is Cassandra. And judging by Tamsin Gilbert’s face as I saw it today that future must surely be a rosy one.