McTavish, Mona (Garthé). “Coquette.” Creative Young Canada: Collection of Verse, Drawings and Musical Compositions by Young Canadians from Seven to Twenty Years of Age. Ed. Aletta E. Marty. Toronto: Dent, 1928. 125.

Mona Gould (née McTavish) is much on our minds lately, as her granddaughter, Maria Meindl, has recently published a fascinating biography: Outside the Box: The Life and Legacy of Writer Mona Gould, The Grandmother I Thought I Knew (Montreal, QC & Kingston, ON: McGill-Queen’s UP, 2011). The biography is based not only on personal experience, but on the extensive Mona Gould fonds held at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto. The archive contains a myriad of previously unpublished poems as well as newspapers clippings that have no bibliographic information on them… Having spent a day or two with Gould’s papers, I am in awe of Meindl’s undertaking…

Imagine our delight, therefore, when Dr. Carole Gerson found a little volume of poetry tucked into the shelves at SFU entitled Creative Young Canada: Collection of Verse, Drawings and Musical Compositions by Young Canadians from Seven to Twenty Years of Age. As the collection was published in 1928, with contributions first published in the Toronto Globe between 1918 and 1928, it is not entirely surprising that Mona McTavish should appear there; she does, however, have the greatest number of pieces of any one author: 7, where most have only 1.

Another interesting detail about this collection is that the young poets also contributed their own artwork, which is sprinkled throughout the volume.  Mona McTavish illustrated “Coquette” with her own silhouette design, and another appears on page 55 accompanying a poem by Hope Alexander. Notice particularly the delightful signature icon Mona McTavish has devised for herself, rather like book illustrators use to sign their otherwise unattributed work.

Coquette

Fair Muse, would you forsake me heartlessly
Because I clip your wings to earn my food,
And leave me mute and voiceless and afraid
When phrases will not come to cloak a mood?

Ah, Muse! If you but knew the pangs I feel
When I am forced to check your shining flight,
You would not starve my soul for lovely words
And plunge my spirit starkly into night!

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