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Assorted “Colomboisms”

I thought to myself, Colombo, you’ve finally slipped your trolley.” – Hugh Garner, author, on being invited to read a short story in a literary series at the Royal Ontario Museum, One Damn Thing after Another!

John Robert Colombo instructed me on the secret history of Canada (since I ignored all of it, its entire history was of course secret to me). – Alberto Manguel, Argentine-born, France-based, Canadian author / editor, “Destination Ithaka,” Passages: Welcome Home to Canada with a preface by Rudyard Griffiths.

… one of my favourite writers and a man who basically supplies me with enough quotes to fool the world year after year after year. – Roy MacGregor, personal communication.

The truth about Colombo is that he has the wisdom of an old man and the enthusiasm of a young man. – Reg Hartt, cinéast, reacting to the criticism of JRC.

It’s not mentioned in any of Harbourfront’s current online bumpf, but the original host of the series was John Robert Colombo. He was a benign, nurturing presence with genuine stature in the literary community and a real interest in young poets. – Robert Priest, poet and columnist, “The Great Gatenby,” Now, 24 July 2003.

… all of these, and much else, have been catalogued by that compulsive collector, John Robert Colombo, in his anthology of sightings, tales, and stories called Windigo. – Margaret Atwood, “Eyes of Blood, Heart of Ice: The Wendigo,” Strange Things: The Malevolent North in Canadian Literature (1995).

It might help, also, to take a half-step back from the phenomenon of “Colombo.” – Dennis Lee, poet, in a letter addressed to fellow poet Al Purdy.

Not much respected by this poet. – Dennis Lee writing to Al Purdy.

We need our Gatenbys and Colombos – Al Purdy replying to Dennis Lee.

He tends to go through contrasting phases – Milton Wilson, critic, writing to Al Purdy.

Someone should build a shrine to John Robert Colombo.–Melanie Fogel, website reviewer.

“Scientists and Thinkers” – Great U of T Alumni (300), updated 1999, updated 2008.

JRC’s command of his territory is magisterial. – John Clute, editor and critic of fantastic literature.

In a very real way you have become the guardian of perpetuating the Canadian psyche–in a fascinating and readable fashion. – Peter C. Newman, biographer, in an unsolicited letter about the publication of The Penguin Dictionary of Popular Canadian Quotations.

John Robert Colombo is a national treasure. – Spider Robinson, SF personality, in a review in The Globe and Mail.

Canada’s most reticent poet. – Howard Engel, author, reviewing a book in The Toronto Star.

The search for the civilized Canadian can end in the person of John Robert Colombo. – Mari Pineo, reviewer, The Vancouver Sun.

Unlike so many of his contemporaries, he is more interested in making complex feelings plain than in making the simple obscure. – Mavor Moore, man of the theatre, reviewing for The Toronto Telegram an appearance at Toronto’s First Floor Club in 1959.

John Robert Colombo, a freelance editor and journalist of talent, has a quick, witty, and entertaining mind and a rare feeling for words and the contemporary scene. – Miriam Waddington, poet, reviewing a book in The Globe and Mail.

The lieutenant of the Canadian literary establishment. – Robin Mathews, poet and critic, writing in The Canadian Forum.

You must be the most sophisticated of poets. – Yevgeny Yevtushenko, Russian poet, in Bulgaria.

You are a one-man Colombo. – Robert Zend, poet, in conversation.

The searchings of John Robert Colombo are significant and profound. – Andrei Voznesensky, Russian poet, travel column in Maclean’s.

For you I will gladly come to Toronto to perform free of charge at any time. – Marcel Marceau, mime, visiting the Colombos at their home in Toronto.

Hail Colombo! – William French, book editor, The Globe and Mail.

Hail Colombo, the Gem of the Literati. – J.L. Granatstein, historian, review article.

The Great Collector. – Douglas Hill, SF editor, The Globe and Mail.

Colombo the Discoverer. – Robert Lewis, editor, editorial, Maclean’s.

Canada’s Mr. Mystery – Robert C. Girard, seller of books on UFOs.

A Master Gatherer – Robin Skelton, man of letters, review, The Globe and Mail.

I like you, Canada man. – Yevgeni Yevtushenko, Russian poet, in Toronto.

A major figure in the Canadian literary world … that assiduous impresario of novelty … his peculiar role in the world of Canadian letters, where he stands somewhat near the centre …. – George Woodcock, man of letters, Literary History of Canada.

We are twins. – Ray Bradbury, author, upon receipt of a copy of Mostly Monsters.

I don’t write books. I’m like that John Robert feller … I rewrite books.” – Don Harron.

Vous êtes un excellent ambassadeur. – Roland Giguère, Quebec poet, private communication.

Before you can say “anthology” he has already been collecting for a year. – Joey Slinger, columnist, The Toronto Star.

He’s written every book ever published. – Michael Enright, CBC personality, on air remark.

He’s Canada’s Pac Man. – Marty Gervais, poet and publisher, in a review.

I don’t know why they’re so hard on Colombo; he’s really quite amusing, you know. – Nathan Cohen, drama critic, to Robert Weaver, literary editor and broadcast executive.

A unique and irreplaceable artist. – Hugh Hood, author, in a blurb written for a collection of poems.

A definite ornament on the literary scene. – Louis Dudek, poet, on CBC Radio.

He’s by a long way the busiest beaver in the forest of Canadian letters, a one-man word-works. – Robert Fulford, critic, in a review.

If Colombo’s entire oeuvre has a metaphysical subtext, it may be that the universe itself is a work of a single author, a highly quotable one.” – Fraser Sutherland, man of letters, introducing the poet at Toronto’s Art Bar.

No punishment can be too severe for him! Right. – poet, Irving Layton, letter to Al Purdy.

When you embarked on this venture you could not have known what a contribution you would make to stitching the country together. (The transcontinental railway did more, but is used less.) – John Polanyi, scientist, in a personal letter.

The combination of culture and common sense is John Robert Colombo. – Allen Spraggett, writer and broadcaster, personal communication.

A prolific writer and editor whose achievements are so numerous they are foolishly taken for granted. – Richard Kostelanetz, author and editor, Dictionary of the Avant-Gardes.

I have a theory that for John Robert Colombo the entire cosmos is a single poem, and all that remains is to connect the dots, so as to reveal its true shape. – Fraser Sutherland, man of letters, introducing the poet at Toronto’s Art Bar.

Most conspicuous. – Northrop Frye, literary critic, University of Toronto Quarterly.

We are grateful to Colombo for his eclectic tastes, his passion for gathering, especially his willingness to gather poetry. His anthologies of Native and Inuit poetry were among the first … Colombo’s poems play with words and syllables, they parody and list and in the interstices after give us a glimpse of ourselves. – Heather Pyrcz, “Sustaining Voices,” “A Digital History of Canadian Poetry,” accessed 24 Feb. 2011.

If the impression left by all of these titles, and too many others to list, is one of indefatigable energy and unstoppable enthusiasm, that is in fact what Colombo’s poetic is all about. – Douglas Barbour, poet and critic, “Other Free Enyclopedias,” accessed 24 Feb. 2011.

Colombo is the real thing. – Judith Merril, SF personality.

Quip: “I have made a career overestimating the curiosity of the Canadian people.” Quoted by Douglas Hill, “The Great Collector,” The Globe and Mail, 28 Jan. 1984.

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