Read What The Critics Are Saying


Linda was invited to read at the Ulyssean Society

Sunday October 9th, 2011

The afternoon's topic was "Poetry For The Fun of It"
Below is a write up from the Entre Nous newsletter, and videos of the afternoon can be see here


From a review of LOVEPLAY by Keith Garebian:

a beautiful creative partnership in a garden of verse. ..

In live performance, Stitt and Fromstein are the best duo of spoken poetry, lyric and parody department, you're probably going to see and hear on the reading circuit. She's the rhythmically elegant, tenderly insightful, somewhat wistful, properly realistic lyric poet whose verse shows a good measure of craft and melody. Fromstein is the droll one, the cut-up clown, surprisingly debonair at times, quick with witty repartee. More often than not, they have opposite points of view about dating, sex, romance, or relationships. An example of their opposition can be had in this extract: when she writes: "I see flowers underneath my feet,/rainbows arching overtop the street/and haloes crowning everyone I meet" he counters: "When I walk in the country,/I see poison ivy beneath my feet,/black clouds deciding where they'd like to meet,/and puddles on benches where I'd like a seat.' Their contrasting voices engage in an intellectual and passionate foreplay, culminating not so much in orgasmic closure as in laughter or an afterglow of wry wisdom.

Such naughty exuberance. It is light-hearted, playful, populist entertainment that returns you to the oral nature of poetry. It is also in the tradition of Dorothy Parker, Ogden Nash, and other satiric wits, and it gains by virtue of the poets' seniority.


The Toronto Sun October 31, 2004
review of
Valerie Gibson

to see the actual newspaper article - click here

Well-versed duo

AH, the twilight of life -- a time of wisdom, experience, reflection of romance and sex. Sex, romance and the elderly? Romance, maybe, but sex? Mention such a subject and the reply might be, "they don't have sex, do they?"

It's a common reaction that's both offensive and ill-informed. But perhaps it springs from those who, as kids, wanted to believe their parents never "did it" or that sex comes to a sudden halt at the sign of the first wrinkle.

Both theories are, of course, wildly inaccurate.

In fact, the medical profession states there's no physical reason sexual desire should die throughout a human being's lifetime. It may diminish or change but it need never go away, physically speaking. The ongoing human need for loving closeness and intimacy certainly never dies.

But, then, most older folks already know this.

They may watch our youth-obsessed world celebrate love, romance and sexuality as only for the firm of skin and tender of years, but they smile their wise smiles and keep their delicious secret to themselves.

Not so secretive are close friends (not partners) and fellow poets, 86-year-old Joe Fromstein and 72-year-old Linda Stitt. They've put their considerable talents together to tell the world about the realities of mature love and romance and the result is an unusual and delightful poetic collaboration.

Loveplay, A Conversation in Rhyme (White Knight Publications) is their newly-released book of poems that will amuse and surprise those who think mid- and late-life love is a romantic and sexual desert.

With deceptive simplicity and joi de vivre they explore not only the joy and pleasure of love, sex and relationships in late life but also its disappointments, insecurities, trials and tribulations. Even such negatives as impotency and frigidity are humorously and wryly exposed under their poetic gaze.
But the book's uniquness comes not just from the two poets' creative talents but from the style in which the poems are presented --both give a very different and occasionally opposing personal view of each of the subjects.

It's a fascinating juxtaposition. There may be a battle of the sexes raging generally but these veterans of the field show how much better it is as a gentle joust.
They met six years ago when Stitt was giving a public poetry reading. Fromstein cheekily interjected by offering an extra line for her poem he felt was missing. Stitt, far from being offended, graciously accepted the extra line, included it, and a strong friendship grew as a result.
Stitt says she grew up with poetry.

"Poetry was a way of life with my family. My mother read poetry to me when I was in her womb!"


She has been professionally writing poems since 1983. A member of the League of Canadian Poets and the Canadian Poetry Association, she now has 10 books of poetry to her credit and is much sought after for her readings.

For Fromstein, the passion for poetry came later in life and was a private occupation he enjoyed after retiring from his own pharmacy. It continued when he decided to return to the University of Toronto to study for his B.A. The year he turned 80, he graduated with top marks and in the last six years has won several speaking competitions via Toastmasters International and written two poetry manuscripts.

Both are now single -- Stitt is divorced after a 25-year marriage in which she lived in Thunder Bay (she is now based in Toronto), and Toronto-born Fromstein is a widower after a 47-year marriage he says was "perfect."

But although both say they would never marry again, they agree the desire for romantic and sexual companionship doesn't diminish with time and add that aging is no barrier either to the creative process and self-fulfilment.

"It's essential, though," says Fromstein, "to always keep a sense of humour." Which he has in spades.

But despite the obvious struggles and adjustments people find they have to make as they age, I ask the still-attractive Stitt what she's found beneficial about getting older.

"Being freer and able to speak my mind," she promptly replies. "In fact, I find all aspects of aging interesting, body and mind."

Does she miss anything though? Her reply takes longer this time.

"The flirting!" she laughs finally. "No one flirts with old ladies."

A Review By:
Penn Kemp
The League of Canadian Poets Webstore Site

Passionate Intensity
Seraphim Editions, 2003

< Passionate Intensity strikes a clear note with a bell's resonant overtones. A cosmos springs to life, with startling reverberation in our own ear. The murky depths of a life are clarified as readers are drawn through the artful process of poem-making. Taut pieces stretch between the oppositional structure of sprit and matter revealing the dimensions of possible human experience, where "Poetry is an imperative".

This book is translucent, as if written on water and still rippling, leaving so much space for reflection. How to write about spiritual practice? That's the dilemma. Linda Stitt has the knack of expressing difficult concepts in colloquial language. She eschews theory for practice. Concepts, Jungian or scientific, are rendered concrete; experience is realized in the poem. You can only assume that emotions have been lived into the poem and into the present moment. This isn't The Stitt Code, but nonetheless you could live your life and your poetics with this book as guide. Stitt embeds Buddhists terms nonchalantly throughout, as English expressions. Even the few technical words she does use are common coin: "karma", for example. Phrases from LAST WORD, the final poem in the book (see below), are words that can be read simply. the path, aspiration, realization, the vehicle, cessation, the final liberation... For a Buddhist, their meaning reverberates, though Stitt writes with a total lack of pretension or condescension. Such clarity is hard won. T.S. Eliot refers to "a condition of complete simplicity, costing not less than everything."

In TAKE YOUR MEDICINE, Stitt writes: "Open wide/ and say awe." What counts is the moment of writing, Stitt's delight in the senses, the surrealistic and telling detail. "Talk to me in poetry./ It's all I understand." The poems are available on first reading, and they stay with you long afterwards. Wry, wise, wonky by turns, they turn on a phrase. You're sauntering along through the poem, enjoying the view, and it's a wide view, when suddenly,a sudden twist and you're laughing out loud. Stitt has the gift of endings. She had "considered calling this book Lacking All Conviction, but that seemed a little too presumptuous." Her title instead is taken from the next line of Yeats's poem, "The Second Coming": "while the worst/ Are full of passionate intensity." This phrase belies the body of the work in Passionate Intensity"but these times call for extremes"
The poems engage all of life's questions, a spectrum that age allows. Not solemn, but serious, even when most funny. It's a delightful surprise to read that the poet is now over seventy. The poems themselves are so agile they leap, rhyming, playing, dancing through all the aspects of human experience. The contents span the four cardinal points of the year, from fall equinox to summer solstice, a complete cycle. Stitt writes in a note at the end, "The exploration continues, even now that I have exceeded my shelf life and surpassed my best before date." Long may she continue, and long may the words flow.

This is a book I wish I'd written Without pretending to be wise, Stitt offers pointers, signs, even the occasional answer. The poems skip like pebbles, rippling over a clear, deep lake. A lake from which a lotus might emerge. The lotus on the back cover, for example, symbolic of Buddhism.


And if I never write again,
have I said all I had to say?
Have I repeated now, sufficient times
that love is the only road,
the only way?
Have I said,
again and again,
what I said at the start,
      that the only path
      is the path with heart?

That is what I found
at the beginning;
love is the foundation
and the underpinning.
Love is the aspiration
and the realization,
the vehicle
and destination,
the inspiration
and the ultimate cessation.

I've said it from the first,
I've said it all before.
I'll say it for the last time,
      just once more,
the only obligation,
the terminal summation,
the final liberation
is love.


Linda was well received in 2001
and again in 2003
when she went back to Thunder Bay for a series of readings and performances.
The reviews above and below are from

Another good mention in November 2003
from Toronto's "surface and symbol" newspaper.