RICOU, Laurie




Author Tags: Literary Criticism

Laurie Ricou grew up in Brandon, Manitoba and he graduated from Brandon College with a Bachelor's degree. He left Brandon in 1965 to study for two graduate degrees at the University of Toronto, then wrote a thesis and a book about how Canadian prairie writers have explored the infinitely elusive nature of landscapes. He taught for eight years at the University of Lethbridge and moved with his family to Vancouver in 1978, teaching in the English department of UBC.

Ricou became editor of Canadian Literature in 2003, in the 45th year of the publication's history. In 2002 he published a relatively rare comparison between the storytelling of British Columbia and the American side of the Pacific Northwest in The Arbutus/Madrone Files: Reading the Pacific Northwest. It was partially inspired by his attendance at the 1978 'Crossing Frontiers' conference in Banff. Ricou suggests "the idea of a Pacific Northwest trans-border region (however diverse the constituent communities) has a considerable history, perhaps more so than in any of the other regions which look at one another--and, therefore, at themselves--across the Canada-U.S. boundary."

His investigation of the Pacific Northwest as a unique cultural environment continued with Salal: Listening for the Northwest Understory, a travel narrative and memoir that celebrates the commonplace salal plant that is often used in floral arrangements. "Relatively few people recognize the plant," he writes, "but it has surely beautified most of their homes. Its wine-dark berries don't burst on the tongue so much as they crumble--but their taste will twist your mouth into a smile."

Since 1979, Laurie Ricou--a non-soccer player--has coached various levels of girls' soccer, making him a co-recipient of a Youth Coach of the Year Award from the B.C. Soccer Association. Simultaneously, his wife, Treva Ricou, has long been an avid soccer player since her Thirties, continuing to play competitively into her Seventies. His children Marc and Liane have played since they turned six. Ricou has subsequently recalled his 35 years of coaching the game for a fragmented memoir, Foot Notes: Telling Stories of Girls' Soccer (Oolichan 2015), published to coincide with the 2015 Women's World Cup held in the Canada throughout June of 2015. Noting the escalating costs for parents to enable their children to participate in amateur soccer, he diplomatically remarks, "I can't think of many reasons why a parent who pays for swimming lessons, Tae Kwon Do and ballet, should not pay for soccer coaching. However, there's no doubt that a change to an employee/employer nexus changes a lot. Maybe this book hums some nostalgic farewell to the amateur coach, and celebrates the culture of volunteerism that sustains." Sprinkled with literary references to Canlit titles, Ricou's potporri of memories and observations revealing a thoughtful and careful personality.

"Some feminists claim that the term 'girls' is inappropriate," he writes, "even to refer to teenagers, because it connotes immaturity, diminished intellect, the girly and the girlish, modelled on a Barbie doll. But when a coach is calling a group of soccer players together, other than such collectives as 'team' or 'blue,' it still seems the best term. 'Ladies,' which many coaches use, is loaded with way more pejorative echo than 'girls,' and certainly (consider 'ladylike') does not conjure athletic prowess.

"'Guys' can sometimes work player-to-player, but will seem arch coming from a male coach. 'Young woman' or 'women' is fine, preferred, for an indirect reference, but it would not work for getting a group to listen up.

"I used to worry about this terminology, as this bit of angst will convey, but not much anymore. Girls is what girls prefer."

CITY/TOWN: Vancouver

DATE OF BIRTH: 17 October 1944

PLACE OF BIRTH: Brandon, Manitoba

ARRIVAL IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: 1978

EMPLOYMENT OTHER THAN WRITING: Professor of English, University of British Columbia

Review of the author's work by BC Studies:
Salal: Listening for the Northwest Understory

BOOKS:

Foot Notes: Telling Stories of Girls' Soccer (Oolichan 2015) $12.95 978-088982-314-3

Salal: Listening for the Northwest Understory (NeWest Press, 2007).

The Arbutus/Madrone Files: Reading the Pacific Northwest (NeWest Press, 2002/US Edition from Oregon State University Press, 2002)

A Field Guide to "A Guide to Dungeness Spit" (Lantzville, BC: Oolichan Books, 1997).

Everyday Magic: Child Languages in Canadian Literature (University of British Columbia Press, 1991).

Vertical Man/Horizontal World: Man and Landscape in Canadian Prairie Fiction (University of British Columbia Press, 1973).

[BCBW 2015] "Literary Criticism"

A Field Guide to "A Guide to Dungeness Spit"
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Dungeness Spit is a seven-mile sandspit near Sequim, Washington on the Olympic Peninsula. UBC's Laurie Ricou re-examines the coastline by incorporating David Wagoner's poem about it in A Field Guide to "A Guide to Dungeness Spit" from Oolichan.

[BCBW 1998]

The Arbutus/Madrone Files
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from BCBW AUTUMN 2002
UBC’s Laurie Ricou has examined cross-border symmetry and differences in literature with : Reading the Pacific Northwest (NeWest $34.95). Arbutus 1-896300-43-X