Remembering Arlene Lampert

Arlene Lampert

Arlene passed away in her own home on February 22, 2023  It was peaceful and in her control. Arlene was a force of nature. Along with Gerald Lampert, Arlene was one of the founding members of the League of Canadian Poets.

As Executive Director of the League, she was integrally involved in some of their most important activities including touring poetry in schools. The Lamperts were well known for nurturing poetry, hosting large poetry events (and wild poetry focused parties), and were central to the new and vibrant poetry scene of the 1970’s and 1980’s in particular. She edited many books of poetry and was well beloved in the writing community.  Also known for her famous Toronto ‘doll car,’ Arlene was  fierce, generous, brilliant and beloved by so many. She will be sorely missed by her children Jay, Jo and daughter-in-law Jennifer and by her adoring grandchildren, Hector, Jaslyn and Gabriel.

A true pillar of Canada’s poetry community, she was amongst the founding group  of the League of Canadian Poets and initiated many of the League’s most important activities – including the Poets in The Schools program, Canada Poetry Tours and her work editing many important books of poetry, amongst other things. Arlene was awarded Honourary Membership with the League in 1981 in gratitude of her dedication to poetry.

Arlene was a friend of my late mother Pat Lowther. They were both deeply involved with the League. I’m not sure I ever met her when I was a kid, because I never left BC, but I was so glad to meet Arlene in spring 1999 in Toronto where she lived. She was instant family. They say we are remembered mostly by how we make others feel. She made me feel loved and welcomed–in a rare way. She was complimentary of my poetry and so encouraging. She had a great sense of humour. She was vastly in love with her grandchildren. About a year ago I reached out by email because it had been too long. She was just as warm and enthusiastic as ever. She even said she felt proud and thrilled to hear where my life had taken me, and my sister’s too. We exchanged poems and pics. She sounded happy. I wish I could have said goodbye. The photo I’m attaching here is of Arlene and me with her interesting car, Toronto, spring 1999.

-Christine Lowther

For decades, Arlene was a stalwart supporter of Canadian poetry… and poets! She always had an open ear for all our concerns, personal or poetic, and an open heart! The parties she and Gerry threw for poets are legendary! She kept in touch over the years long after she retired from the League. Here’s celebrating her and all her many kindnesses over the years.

–Penn Kemp

In the cartoon, Garfield the Cat says to his girlfriend, Arlene “That’s okay Arlene, it’s the thought that counts. She counters with a sigh”.
I met Arlene Lampert towards the end of her life. Sigh. Meeting her was like meeting the family relative I always wanted.
One day I was walking past a newly created parkette at Markham Ave near Bathurst St. I looked at it and envisaged a poetry festival. I said that to my friend Wendy and she said let’s do it in honour of Arlene. Yes. We did. We contacted bill bissett, David Bateman and Robert Priest. The always supportive League of Canadian Poets helped fund us. We had wonderful publicity. Arlene’s daughter flew in from Australia. It was a sunny, warm, Sunday afternoon in the city. Arlene had the place of honour and we regaled her. She knew, that afternoon, she was loved, appreciated and important to us.
She was at the ground floor of the creation of the League and we all benefited from her diligence and love of poetry. Me, particularly. Arlene you are the family relative I always wanted and finally found and even though our time together was short, it was meaningful and invaluable and I’m forever grateful.

–Honey Novick

I remember Arlene fondly from the 1970s. After I joined the League with the publication of my first book (“No Lingering Peace,” Fiddlehead Press), Arlene booked me into the Poetry Tours. I always felt personally included, not just a name to be slotted in.

–Marvyne Jenoff

As the partner of Arlene’s Granddaughter Jaslyn, I’d heard so much about Arlene and how important she was to Jassy. I could feel the depth of their love for each other any time Jassy spoke about her, and I especially felt it whenever we were spending time with her and they were speaking to each other. Arlene never lapsed on imparting to Jassy how special she thought she was. We had made plans to visit from Australia together so I could meet Arlene in person, and although Jassy was able to make it across, sadly the circumstances of the last couple of years prevented me from joining them. Nevertheless I had the great privilege of speaking with Arlene by video, and even through the screen she exuded all of the traits that I love in a person. Her warmth, her sharp wit, her encouragement of others’ passions, and her incisive humour made an immediate and lasting impact on me. She was relentlessly complimentary and I would always blush when she would insist each time we talked that I would promise to never stop making “cowboy country music” after Jassy played my record for her. We shared a love of aliens, ghosts and trash television, and I always felt as though we would’ve been great old friends for a long time had we met under different circumstances. I am very satisfied however to have been able to know her as family for the time I did. Funnily I chose to change my name to Darlene prior to having learned that hers was Arlene – for almost the entire time I’d known her, I’d just called her “Nanna”. It was a nice coincidence that made a lot of sense. Rest in peace Arlene, love always,


l’ll remember Arlene as a
fiercely independent, outspoken,
strong woman and my best friend’s mom, who
adored her family.
She exuded confidence and
authority as a woman who knew
who she was.
She knew how to entertain and made every individual, lucky enough to be near her, feel seen, special, and appreciated.
She was later a grandma who
drove a car plastered with dolls on
the outside, as a celebration of her
uniquely artistic, whimsical,
magical sense of humour.
When she gave me advice, I knew
+ appreciated the depth of her
consideration and love for me, as a
teen who struggled at home at the
I feel so lucky to have known Arlene and I will love her always.
With love


Arlene visited us in Australia. She was so warm and friendly, so full of fun, full of laughter and joy. She will be greatly missed by many people who were inspired and encouraged by her. She had a big personality with a huge capacity to embrace, love and care for others. RIP dear one, we will miss you.

Margie Shanahan

I had heard Arlene Lampert speak movingly of her friendship with Adele Wiseman at Adele’s memorial service in 1992, and when I found myself assembling a collection in honour of Adele Wiseman, I knew she had to be part of it.
She said she didn’t write herself, but she agreed to an interview, so I made my way over rain-spattered, leaf-stained streets to her lovely home on Balmoral Avenue one morning in late October.
Arlene made me welcome as she greeted me at the door and led me through a dark, serene living room to a brighter nook near the kitchen. I remember her dark hair, her dark dress, her sparkling eyes. Her home was unpretentious but comfortable. I think, as I look back on it, that it was filled with good writing energies, not only oh her late husband, but of their many writing friends who had visited, talked, dined, or been at parties in those rooms.
Arlene was easy to talk to, though we had never met before. Her voice was a little scratchy, the voice of a woman who is confident, intelligent, gets things done. What she remembered most of Adele was her generosity, and I think that was one of her great qualities too.
When We Who Can Fly: Poems, Essays and Memories in Honour of Adele Wiseman came out in 1997, Arlene gave the launch party for it in memory of Adele. I don’t remember much of it, but it was a great party–it had the ease and flow of an event hosted by a woman who had given many great parties–and it was a wonderful beginning for the book.
Arlene and Adele’s daughter Tamara Stone gave me permission to build on Arlene’s work on Adele’s mostly unpublished poems, a work that become The Dowager Empress: Poems of Adele Wiseman. Arlene was one of the people whose reading I cared most about, so I was overjoyed when she emailed me that she liked the book and said I should be proud of myself. It had never occurred to me to be proud of myself–as editor, I was just a vessel–but her note was a great last gift from her.
Her memory is and will be a blessing.

Elizabeth Greene

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