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Cheryl Cudmore  

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.

Sweet Tahfah

"We neeed, weee neeed deess,
Auntie, auntie!
We neeeed tahfah,
ceiling dancing like my sister dressed
Make stars with tahfah,
yellah, yellah, surlah, guaehm!
Auntie, auntie
Yum, yum, yum!"

Purple cotton socks,
half off - half on...
"I lah you! Youlahmeee!"
...boisterous bounding feet,
dance with Barney:
weeelahappy famileee!"

Neat cornrow plaits
of spring-tight curls,
shining cheeks
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 mid 1980's.

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.

The beauty

you cannot view
the forest
by studying one tree

consider not
the waves alone
but the entire sea

confine love not
unto yourselves
but love humanity

then seek the beauty
of the Friend
in every face you see.

she's back
from his journals

she trades in her
whissssspering tides
ccccriccccket chorus
muddddy welllllies
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


she's back
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
we will

on wings

        a sight
          so prom-
                  in the air
                          v's flying

the nonsotheby's collection

she visits
his tidy salt box
wherein she discovers
row upon row
of shining glass
salad dressing
and pickle jars

spruce gumballs
orange and green lentils
basmatttti rice
dried chili pepper
soy beans
greeen tea
rose madder
tempera powder
rice flour
buckwheat flour
large rolled oats
rubber washers
nuts and bolts
dried dulse
from Grand Manan
meow chow kibble
multicoloured macaroni
pistachio nuts
dried lavender
turkish figs
and odd buttons
turkish figs
and odd buttons

Excerpts from Arts Dialogue, June 1998.

change of plan

Iíve often thought
if death were to sever me
from love,
Iíd find it again
in brief time.

How arrogant of me
to imagine myself
loveís survivor,
that I would have
unlimited chances.

Every day, we speak
as though
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:

Comments and feedback are welcome.

E-mail Cheryl Cudmore at:
alan.bjorndal *[AT]*

  • 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