I’ve been avoiding writing about this, because it hit me hard, when I heard about it last July 31. Didn’t want to announce it before the obituary came out, because I didn’t want to be the crow, the one bearing that news.
Sad, because Sonja, along with her partner Geof, who ran Zymergy Magazine, plus a poetry press, were among my first and longest-running literary friends in Montreal. They sort of picked me up when I went to an open reading, having just gotten to the city and didn’t know anyone. The crowd didn’t receive my Calgary short stories very well, but those two took me in. Very funny and strange people. With fingers in a lot of pies in the Montreal lit community. It’s difficult to think of Sonja without Geof, Geof without Sonja. They were a duality.
Anyhow, now that she’s gone, I think she’s joined that pantheon of dead poets that I remember. Ruth Taylor, Artie Gold, Robert Allen. They’re purified now, in memory. Unhappy I won’t see her again, but there are those memories. Dinners at Amelio’s Pizza, her crazy cats. Driving around Montreal, and hearing stories of the oddballs who submitted to her poetry press.
She was very private and urban, almost agoraphobic. Still, I mostly ran into her with Geof downtown in shopping malls, which show up in her poems a lot. (see link below)
Anyways, that’s it. I’m not so sure about an afterlife, reincarnation, or heaven, but she lives on in the memories of those who knew her.
Nice article from the Gazette about Sonja: http://www.montrealgazette.com/health/Sonja+Skarstedt+definitely+Montreal+poet/1864470/story.html
I wish I could find this Gazette “Lifestyle” photo spread from the 90s showing Montreal women poets, including Sonja, wearing the latest fashions. Good for a giggle, anyhow.