Charles Tidler: Hoosier-Bred Playwright and Poet

…Musings about an old acquaintance…Charles Tidler… is a Canadian poet and playwright, who grew up in Tipton Indiana, attended Sharpsville High School, and graduated from Purdue in 1968; with 11 plays, produced all over Canada, tons of awards, he is hailed as one of Canada’s most original poet-playwrights.
When I was at Purdue, he had graduated, hung around campus, an arrogant arse, holding forth about writing, philosophy, bewitching us like Scheherazade, waiting re: Viet Nam War.  He produced an ‘underground’ lit mag, Wordjock, did off-campus poetry readings, smoked a lot of weed, and other stuff, and dated beautiful women, including Carol Ewing, a blond sorority girl, from Marion, Indiana, friend of my friend CeCe, a seemingly mismatched duo.
During Christmas break 1969, Charles borrowed my off-campus apartment, when I went home,… his last stop en route to Canada, to escape draft. When I returned from break, a day early, and found his open suitcase filled with my books, like my beloved Letters to a Young Poet, by Rilke, I was livid!  I vividly recall Carol trying to calm me down, “Now, now, Charles didn’t mean it.  He needs the books: he’s going to be a famous poet.” We naïve Purdue girls, like rock-musician groupies, believed that artistes were allowed to do things, like steal from each other, both possessions, and their creative ideas, writing fragments, for the good of art, which was for the betterment of society.  But-t-t- …my books, bought by hard-earned money, babysitting (bratty, precocious) professors’ kids, and cleaning their houses!  I never forgave Charles Tidler, for not regarding me.  I think I was also self-righteously annoyed that he escaped to Canada, to avoid the Viet Nam war, but never involved himself with campus anti-war protests, meetings, groups.
Carol followed Charles to Canada, probably an extreme act of Purdue rebellion, that shocked many, and I heard, estranged her from her parents.  In the mid-1970s, my friend CeCe, Carol’s friend, said that she had heard from her… that she and Charles were so poor, that they ate seaweed, found on the beach, and had to live on Vancouver, BC beaches, for awhile, and that they had a baby son. Always wondered if the marriage lasted, if Carol returned, to the US, what the baby grew up to be.

In May, at a student poetry-and-jazz performance I attended, here in DC, Charles Tidler’s poetry was performed, a kind of talking-jazz-blues-fun piece… Astounded to find that it was indeed THE Hoosier Charles Tidler, the Purdue University bad-boy! Although he is not well-known here, he is considered, in literary circles, to be one of Canada’s most original and best…

I found an April 2011 Lafayette Journal-Courier article by Tim Brouk, about Charles Tidler, re: his latest book, Hard Hed — The Hoosier Chapman Papers, in which he wrote about Purdue and West Lafayette.  (

In the article, he stated that as a young man, he couldn’t get out of Indiana fast enough, but,  “as an adult — a senior citizen now — I keep coming back. All my books say “I’m a Hoosier in Canada.” Even a rolling stone has roots somewhere.” I feel the same way…but I still don’t have the courage to go back to Indiana… Charles told the interviewer, that he loved Indiana’s blood-soaked history, enigmas, contradictions, the people, which he called the friendliest in North America. Carol is no longer Charles’ wife, but no mention of wife, or family, in his article. He is married, has two sons, lives in Victoria, BC.
I requested Hard Hed, from DC Public Library; will review, when I get the book. I would never spend money on any of his books.  Am not convinced that poets and playwrights, who, at 21, are thoughtless egomaniacs, improve  that much. Nevertheless, I admire him, for putting in the hard work, sticking to it, despite countless rejection letters (I’m picturing my bathroom wall that I wallpaperd with rejection letters, before I quit.)


Below is a list of works, by Charles Tidler, Indiana writer.

PLAYS & BOOKS, by Charles Tidler, most of which are available on Amazon:

Hard Hed: The Hoosier Chapman Papers (Anvil 2011) 978-1-897535-69-1 $20
Tortoise Boy: A Chamber Play (Anvil, 2008) – play
Going to New Orleans (Anvil, 2001) – novel
Red Mango: a blues (Anvil, 2001)
The Sex Change Artist, Intrepid Theatre. Playwrights Union of Canada.
Fabulous Yellow Roman Candle. Playwrights Union of Canada.
The Butcher’s Apron. Playwrights Union of Canada.
Spit Delaney’s Island, Adaptation of two stories by Jack Hodgins. Playwrights Union of Canada.
The Farewell Heart. Playwrights Union of Canada.
Straight Ahead. Playwrights Union of Canada.
Blind Dancers. Playwrights Union of Canada.
Dinosaurs. Powell River: Ramseed House Press, 1982.
Straight Ahead & Blind Dancers. PLCN, 1981; CTR No. 34, Spring 1982.
Broken Branches. Vancouver: Orphan Press, 1977.
Anonymous Stone. Pulp Press, 1977.
Flight: The Last American Poem. Pulp Press, 1976.
Whetstone Almanac. Pulp Press, 1975.
Straw Things. New York: The Crossing Press, 1972.
North of Indianapolis. Indiana: Aesop’s Feast Press, 1969.

About John

About John John Bolinger was born and raised in Northwest Indiana, where he attended Ball State University and Purdue University, receiving his BS and MA from those schools. Then he taught English and French for thirty-five years at Morton High School in Hammond, Indiana before moving to Colorado, where he resided for ten years before moving to Florida. Besides COME SEPTEMBER, Journey of a High School Teacher, John's other books are ALL MY LAZY RIVERS, an Indiana Childhood, and COME ON, FLUFFY, THIS AIN'T NO BALLET, a Novel on Coming of Age, all available on as paperbacks and Kindle books. Alternately funny and touching, COME SEPTEMBER, conveys the story of every high school teacher’s struggle to enlighten both himself and his pupils, encountering along the way, battles with colleagues, administrators, and parents through a parade of characters that include a freshman boy for whom the faculty code name is “Spawn of Satan,” to a senior girl whose water breaks during a pop-quiz over THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS. Through social change and the relentless march of technology, the human element remains constant in the book’s personal, entertaining, and sympathetic portraits of faculty, students, parents, and others. The audience for this book will certainly include school teachers everywhere, teenagers, parents of teens, as well as anyone who appreciates that blend of humor and pathos with which the world of public education is drenched. The drive of the story is the narrator's struggle to become the best teacher he can be. The book is filled with advice for young teachers based upon experience of the writer, advice that will never be found in college methods classes. Another of John's recent books is Mum's the Word: Secrets of a Family. It is the story of his alcoholic father and the family's efforts to deal with or hide the fact. Though a serious treatment of the horrors of alcoholism, the book also entertains in its descriptions of the father during his best times and the humor of the family's attempts to create a façade for the outside world. All John's books are available as paperbacks and Kindle readers on Amazon, and also as paperbacks at Barnes & Noble. John's sixth book is, Growing Old in America: Notes from a Codger was released on June 15, 2014. John’s most recent book is a novel titled Resisting Gravity, A Ghost Story, published the summer of 2018 View all posts by John →
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