War Poet.ca - A CFAP Project by Suzanne Steele

Requiem aeternum Michael Green 1957-2015

Michael, in paradisum deducant te Angeli; in tuo adventu suscipiant te martyres, et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Ierusalem. Chorus angelorum te suscipiat, et cum Lazaro quondam paupere æternam habeas requiem.


Michael Green & SMS tasting whisky the night before the premiere of Jeffrey Ryan and SMS’s Afghanistan: Requiem for a Generation (November 2012)

I never imagined I would be writing for one of my own personal fallen comrades here. This space has recorded the losses of so many in uniform, but now it is the time to bid adieu to one of my own tribe, the great artist, actor, director, writer, producer, Michael Green. Michael Green, the national treasure. And I told him that several times to his face, and he always said, modestly, “You’re so kind.” But I meant it. Japan makes its beloved master artists national treasures, well Canada should have made Michael one. He was the quintessential cultural treasure, and, frankly, the best of what we are.

Michael was lost to the world on Tuesday, February 11, along with three other distinguished artists: Kainai First Nation elder, scholar and filmmaker Narcisse Blood; Michele Sereda, artistic director of Regina’s Curtain Razors theatre; and Regina-based multidisciplinary artist Lacy Morin-Desjarlais. The loss to their families, the cultural world in our country is tremendous, but this is also a great loss to the CF family as well.

Without Michael, our war requiem, Afghanistan: Requiem for a Generation would never have happened. Over lunch one day in Calgary, after attending Rem. Day ceremonies in Edmonton, Michael was so moved by what I had to tell him about my witness as a war artist from 2008-2010, that when he heard that I felt compelled to write a war requiem, he felt the war requiem had to happen. On Nov. 13, 2010, Michael listened to my vision and immediately picked up the phone and contacted Heather Slater the artistic director of the Calgary Philharmonic, with whom we met within hours, and within hours the composer had been chosen, Jeffrey Ryan, and in less than two years 270 souls were on stage taking curtain calls to the Standing O of 1700 people. Many in the audience had served in Astan, some driving or flying great distances to be there. Two soldiers from Edmonton whose car slid on black ice and ended in the ditch had the car pulled out and made it on time for the premiere. A young signaller whose officer had been killed in A’stan attended. A young Cpl. flew from Ontario to attend (looking gorgeous in her civvies). Quite a few mothers and fathers and other next-of-kin were there that night. An Afghan thanked me after hearing the Pashto choruses by the children, the requiem was as much for the Afghans as for anyone else. There were few dry eyes in the audience.

The size of the project, with Ann Lewis-Luppino, at the head, was staggering, in terms of finances and logistics. But collectively, we pulled it off. It was a night when our country heard the voices of the soldiers, their next of kin, the ones who love, the children of Afghanistan, and, I hope, heard the price they have all paid and continue to pay. Our country too, heard the call of the past century, from the Great War, Vimy, the Somme to Kandahar. And Michael Green was the reason for it happening. He was the grand clockmaker, winding the clock, then letting us all see it move, a Leviathan of a project, to production. Thank you Michael.

When someone dies, or someone falls in love, they often turn to the poets to help articulate the big feelings. Well this poet is too miserable to write words, profound, or beautiful. I simply cannot grasp that that fun, brave, generous, gorgeous spirit Michael Green is dead, and in such a terrible violent way, in a terrible car accident in our northern land. Someone commented on the television that Michael had “died with his boots on doing what he loved … travelling to another arts project”. There’s cold comfort in this for us. I cannot imagine Michael gone, any more than I can imagine him wearing boots. Because every time I ever saw Michael, he was floating on some beautiful creative cloud. Always a smile. Always generous. Always dreaming up the next amazing project. Requiem aeternum Michael Green, may the chorus of angels be right now spreading their arms to greet you, cause Lord knows, you’ll ask them what they really want to sing, then you’ll find them the most glorious gig under God’s creation.

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The page you're reading contains a single diary entry entitled Requiem aeternum Michael Green 1957-2015. It was posted here on February 14, 2015.

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