Remembering Fred Ward 1937- 2017
by Frank Kermit
I just found out this week that one of the most memorable Dawson College professors I ever had,
passed away this week.
I was trying to track down a photo of him on the Internet,
to make an entry on my blog
but to no avail yet.
Fortunately, someone found my blog article on Fred Ward, and sent me a photo of him.
I am also going to ask anyone that would like to write something in memory of
to please forward it to me, so I can post it here on the blog.
One of the kindest souls. Listened to you attentively and always gave the best advice. Mr. Fred Ward was a Mentor, and a friend he will be greatly missed by his family and from all that had the privilege to know him. As for myself he has left an enormous mark on me and will forever be remembered as the professor that opened my mind and love for acting and for that I will forever be thankful. Godspeed kind sir.
I published Fred Ward's first book of poems, POEMS, 1966, Duende Press, Placitas, NM.
I have copies to share if you have some ideas.
I recorded Fred reading many of his poems and I have made it available here: https://duende.bandcamp.com/album/fred-ward-reads-his-poems-to-ann-quin-and-larry-1966
Thank you for this appreciation and compilation concerning Fred.
If you're very lucky, once in your life you'll meet someone who truly inspires you and who fuels your natural talents. And if you're smart, when you've met that person you'll realize it and appreciate it.
For many of us, that inspiration was Fred Ward. Our teacher and our friend. A man larger than life and humble at the same time. Like most people, Fred's impact came when I was young and full of myself. His patience and subtle manner guided me to influence many decisions that led to being the person I am today. Every word I write, every frame I shoot has breath from Fred's kind soul.
He taught us how to be honest in our art and how that honesty will only make our work stronger. He was right.
There are so many things I want to say, but I'm not sure words could capture the man we loved dearly. So, true to Fred form, I'll stop trying to write and simply write.
I'm not sad by his loss, of course I wish for one more conversation with him--especially now that I'm a little smarter than before. But, I do consider myself very, very lucky to have met such a man and to have felt his love. Anyone who has had the privilege of spending even the briefest moment with the man feels the same.
By no means is any artist ever fully confident in his work, but Fred's impact was that he made us all comfortable enough in ourselves and our work that we persevere and continue expressing our passions. Fred taught us all to move beyond our fears, beyond our insecurities, he taught us to perform or to write with our hearts. And no matter where we all are in our lives, we all are better from having learned from him. Let's cherish his memory and allow his legacy to be the best of ourselves.
-M.J. Di Rocco
Author of The Tale of Bunny The Frog
An extraordinary soul has passed and the world is poorer for his passing. Fred was not my schoolteacher, although he taught me more than many people. He was not my mentor, although his approval, encouragement, support and insight into my work meant the world to me.
Fred's brilliance, uniqueness, originality, kindness, modesty and attention to the human heart was unparalleled. He saw the world in a completely original way. Even his criticism of the world's craziness was tinged with deep, authentic humour and profound respect for human life. His spirituality was a light and a guide and shone on everything he did and everyone he loved. He touched and changed countless lives and inspired generations of young people to become the best they could be.
He helped people discover the talent and power that already lay within themselves, and put them in touch with it. The world will benefit from Fred's genius for generations to come. Fred was a giant. I will miss him deeply.
I’m saddened to read about the passing of Mr. Ward (that’s how I insisted to addressed him) even though he constantly insisted “please, its Fred” I felt that there was a real special importance to his presence which he truly deserved.
I had the pleasure of meeting him through his art work that he produced in his later years (around 1997). Each piece was as unique as he was, all the artwork that Mr. Ward produced came with a unique story about where each piece of handmade paper came from, explaining how it was formed and what it was made of (never forgetting to mention that it was purchased at the Japanese paper store right near Wilensky on Fairmount) his type written signature was always accompanied with a cite of one of his writings, the inspirations to his paper collages.
That was the beginning of our collaborative artistic bond, I was delighted to have the opportunity to frame many of his fine pieces. At that time, I was a small custom framing shop on Laurier Ave. one street south of Fairmount, we just clicked and saw eye to eye as to what type of message we could convey through each framing choice.
I was flattered when invited to attend one of his readings, now that was truly a captivating and mesmerizing experience (unforgettable)!
Mr. Ward came by to gift me one of his amazing pieces, I framed it just like “we” knew it should be, it hangs on my wall in my formal living room in a place of honor to this day.
When I closed down the custom framing business, (2006) we fell out of touch.
Many days I read the type written quote and depending on the circumstances, I could interpret it in many different ways ...today I understand its true meaning...
“Somewhere the same thing was the same thing stays That’s what remembering is.”
From the series: In An Elevator Crowd Mr. Frederick Ward, you will forever “stay” as one of my heartfelt memories.
If anyone reading this also has a sample of Fred Ward's art work, would you please send me a photo of it, and the story of how you acquired it from Fred (if you have one). Thanks!!
Fred Ward Biography as mentioned on:
Born: Kansas City, Missouri
Booker T. Washington grade school
Lincoln High School
University of Missouri, Kansas City Conservatory of Music
Advanced School of Contemporary Music (Toronto)
Dalhousie University (Halifax)
Dawson College (Montréal, Qc.)
Published by Tundra Books:
Nobody Called Me Mine (1977)
A Room Full of Balloons (1981)
Frederick Ward has been described as “the most undeservedly unsung poet in all of English-Canadian literature” (Arc Poetry Magazine).
Born in 1937 in Kansas City, Missouri, the Black-American Ward came to Canada in 1970 – just passing through Halifax – and ended up staying. There he me met Black Nova Scotians recently turfed out of their old community – Africville – which was bulldozed by the city to make way for a dumpsite. Their stories became the basis of his 1974 novel, Riverlisp: Black Memories.
Ward now lives in Montreal where he is a theatre teacher at
A review of Frederick Ward's Blind Man’s Blues
Aug 7, 2009
Moira FarrThe most undeservedly unsung poet in all of English-Canadian literature is Frederick Ward. Born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1937, he is African-American in heritage, and an expert partisan of many arts. Ward studied art at the University of Kansas and music at the University of Missouri. He learned jazz piano under the tutelage of Oscar Peterson. After slinging words as a Hollywood songwriter, Ward removed to New Mexico where he published, in 1964, his first book, a collection of poems, and then, in Detroit, in 1966, his edited anthology of nine Baha’i poets, including himself—and his great influence and inspiration, the masterful African- American, Afro-modernist Robert Hayden (1913-80). In 1970, en route to Sweden by ship, Ward was waylaid in Halifax, Nova Scotia, by a dock worker’s strike. Abandoning the vessel, Ward soon met dispossessed exiles from the recently assassinated-by-bulldozer community of Africville. His close listening to their stories helped to fuel his first novel, Riverlisp (1974), a Joycean and Jean Toomereque jazz-feast of Black English and psychedelic surrealism. Two more novels followed in 1977 and 1981, but then, save for occasional anthologizations of his scattered bits of new work, along with his arresting script for the National Film Board feature, Train of Dreams (1987), silence. Silence. A crisis of silence.
read more at the link above...
Comments about Fred Ward from students
on the site:
Easily the best professor for the dramatic arts I ever had.
Phenomenally a brilliant man & exceptional character!
He is the best teacher I've ever had. :)
Fantastic teacher and man. Inspiring to say the least, he will care about you from the first minute to the last. HIGHLY recommended.
He inspired me in many ways. The best teacher in Professional Theatre by very far.
A truly beautiful human being and an interesting teacher to say the least :)
Very worldly and knowledgeable! Doesn't give too much work, is a fair marker and is very smart! Extremely recommended!
He is such a sweetheart. He tells so many interesting stories, that you hardly feel like you're in class, and he's unbelievably nice.
Amazing teacher, very inspiring, loved him!! easy going ... recommend 100%!!!!! I got a 95 in his class! he makes it extremely fun and easy
Very inspiring and motivational. Intellectual but very interesting. Definitely should take him... Made drama SO much fun!
Amazing man...I love him!
LOVE HIM!!!!!!!!!!! he knows so much about what he's doing. he knows exactly what he wants and class is amazingly fun....most inspiring teacher I've ever had!
Fred was the best teacher I've ever had. I love him. Great, great man and wonderful, inspiring teacher. Take him!
One of the most incredible teachers I've ever had!
Very good teacher! Makes you realize a lot of things we tend to neglect about life.
A really good teacher & all around nice guy. Motivating, interesting and honest.
The BEST teacher! Awesome, awesome guy!! Very fun class. You'll love him!
Updated on February 28, 2018
8/28/2017 02:00:04 pm
Fred was an outstanding teacher. He taught with experience and passion. No matter on which level you were on, he was able to reach you and bring out those hidden emotions you thought you never had. He believed everyone had some acting skills in them.
10/22/2017 11:08:24 pm
A true Artist. A true friend.
11/6/2017 04:57:23 pm
I was incredibly close with Fred.
11/6/2017 06:10:58 pm
I would greatly appreciate some photos to put on this blog entry. Send them to Frank@franktalks.com
4/3/2023 06:55:21 pm
Hi there Matt,
1/12/2018 10:52:38 am
Fred helped me understand the throughl-ine of the play, as well as what goals my character was trying to reach. In 3rd year of Theatre school, Fred was also my improv teacher. I was a late bloomer in Theatre school, and he was one of the teachers who was kind enough to "give me my space" and not rush me into the character, etc - He was always willing to help me out when I had questions and I was never afraid to go to him with anything - he was an amazing man!
1/12/2018 02:08:21 pm
How could I have missed the news that Fred had died? One of my favourite people that I met when I worked at the Westmount Examiner. I kept in touch with him as much as I could. I interviewed him for the Examiner, so there should be a photo of him in the archives. I loved his books, especially Riverlisp, because it was about my home city. His books needed to be read aloud, because they were poetry as much as prose. His books are all out of print, and I gave mine away, so I'd love to be able to find copies around somewhere (there might still be some in his basement). He was a lovely, gifted man. I remember asking him, "Fred, is there anything you can't do?" He pondered a few minutes, smiled, and said, "Well, I've never tried jewelry-making." His sense of humour was well developed even in childhood, from the stories he told.
1/12/2018 02:41:48 pm
Hi Janet, I would love to repost your articles about Fred on my blog, or at least have the links to them in the comments. Please let me know what is possible -Frank
1/12/2018 03:39:06 pm
Fred was one of the 2 teachers present in the room when I first had my audition for Dawson college, I will always remember how serious he looked not saying a word keeping his eyes closed and listening attentively to my piece, I remember being fairly intimidated but I kept on, it was about halfway through my monologue that I heard a genuine laugh and realized that he wasn't trying to scare me, he was listening to all the little nuances in the script, what i was doing with the subtext, and analyzing all the work I had put in. I remember thinking " you mean they can laugh at my piece?" and all the fear immediately went away. The following 3 years Fred would go on to pass on as much knowledge as he could to a blooming actor in training, just how much information can be hidden in one line of text,
1/14/2018 11:07:57 pm
Fred was one of the first teachers to listen to me- which made me want to be the best I could be. He taught me that the main character is not measured by lines but rather the story in itself. He was a kind soul who we needed at the time. We were lucky to have him. I can still hear his voice telling me to just trust. So that’s what I’ll do Fred. I’ll trust
4/11/2021 08:50:18 pm
amazing human being,. thank you for the book backwards and forward.amen rip
4/4/2023 11:28:30 pm
to me he was my intro t o theater i think he was also a vietnam vet. he inspired me to be gentle even though i was a natural born method actor he called me. amen god rest his soul
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