Judith Ariana Fitzgerald, a Canadian poet, critic, journalist, blogger, and editor, was born in Toronto, Ontario on November 11, 1952. She attended York University where she earned a BA and MA. She then pursued a doctoral degree at the University of Toronto. She had a broad range of interests, which included culture, media, and music, among others. Fitzgerald passed away from a heart attack on November 25, 2015 in her home of Port Loring, at the age of 63.
Fitzgerald had a difficult upbringing. She never had a father figure. Her mother, whom she recalls working as a prostitute, had many children from different men who were constantly being taken away by child services. Fitzgerald lived with her sister Maggie and her brother Robert for a short while. She reports that the three siblings were often neglected, even beaten and starved, forcing her brother Robert to go scavenge for food. Her sister Maggie passed away at the age of 29. It is through the help of her school teachers that Judith was moved to foster care at the age of 13.
A rough life followed her even rougher childhood. Fitzgerald was forced to survive on income support, welfare, loans, government grants, and even money from friends. In addition, she had a plethora of health problems, such as acute respiratory distress syndrome, celiac disease, cervical cancer, and osteoporosis.
Despite her difficult upbringing, Fitzgerald became a prolific poet and journalist, making a name for herself in Canadian poetry and journalism. She published over 20 works of poetry, notably Octave (1970), Rapturous Chronicles (1991), Habit of Blues: Rapturous Chronicles II (1992), Given Names: New and Selected Poems (1985), to River (1995), and finally The Adagios Quartet which includes Iphigenia’s song (2003), Oreste’s Lament (2004), Electra’s Benison (2006), and O Clytemnestra! (2007). Many of her works were shortlisted for reputable literary awards, such as the Governor General’s Literary Award (for Rapturous Chronicles), The Pat Lowther Memorial Award (for Given Names: New and Selected Poems) and The Chalmers Arts Fellowship in 2003. Her works of prose include biographies of Sarah McLachlan (Sarah McLachlan: Building a Mystery, 2000) and Marshall McLuhan (Marshall McLuhan: Wise Guy, 2001), of whom she was very fond.
Fitzgerald became a critic for the Globe and Mail in the early 1980s, publishing countless commentaries on art, media, music, sports, and culture. She wrote blogs for the Globe and Mail’s “In Other Words” column, music and poetry columns for the Toronto Star, and even a sports column for Canada’s Baseball Magazine.
Finally, Judith Fitzgerald made countless contributions and editions to literary journals and collections, such as The Oxford Book of Poetry by Canadian Women and Canadian Poetry Now, editing Canadian literary volumes like Un Dozen: Thirteen Canadian Poets (1982), SP/ELLES: Poetry by Canadian Women (1986), and First Person Plural (1988).