events KFBFridays launch new poet poetry reading splendid

Because we’re here


because the one who holds the pen, even if it’s too dark to / see the page and even if the ink is his own blood, is free*

There’s a story here, an ongoing one (thanks to you). Here’s but an excerpt:

Picture this, coldest winter on record, flu bug making the rounds, and we hold two of our biggest events ever, over the holidays.

Poets are a hardy bunch.

Then, an overnight trip to Ottawa, to read at Tree Series (with Margo LaPierre) a warm, remarkable house filled with poets, and Pearl, and love, as well as an amazing conversation with Amanda Earl, and drinks after.

Mid-week, a whirlwind, landing, catching up, prepping for our Friday’s reading, open this email:

There is so much ugliness right now. Perhaps we’re losing our humanity in our fight for it. And so – lovely you – I thought I’d send you this this morning, to give you courage if you need it. To remind you, if you need to remember, what we’re doing, we makers of things, we lovers, we hopers, we us. 
From Anne Michaels.

… including Michaels’ powerful poem To Write, from her new collection, All We Saw (McClelland & Stewart, 2017).

Mind you, this came completely out of the blue, much like most ‘tweets’ that drop like bombs (at rare times, blessings) from the sky.

She restoreth my soul.

This poet doesn’t know that I’ve only recently had the pleasure to be Anne’s bookseller at recent events (including this coming Tuesday). Michaels is the reason she writes.

When I first held/read Shannon Bramer’s Precious Energy (Bookthug, 2017), it was so recognizibly human, so tenacious and frail, so well done.

I don’t trust any system, order, that doesn’t allow for human failing.

And Shannon invited Jessica Hiemstra (The Holy Nothing, Pedlar Press) and we invited Catherine Graham (The Celery Forest, Wolsak & Wynn), and the evening, last night, came into being.

At this time, this place, a place that everywhere else I travel is envied. This tiny little poetry shop/haven in Kensington Market.

And dearest Catherine was ill, so the Radish Spirit read Oak. and Jessica read her bravest work. Shannon also reading the work that insists we remain flesh and blood, tenacious and true.

And the poets and publishers came, loved ones to hear, receive. And people marvelled at the beauty of such a place (kisses Audra).

This too, is humanly possible.

And Jessica and Shannon closed the night reading To Write by Anne Michaels.

And a bucket of flowers, each individually wrapped with a handwritten line from this poem was offered for each to take home.

And some ask, “Kirby, why are you doing this?”

And my answer is, “Because I am blessed that this is mine to do.”


We launch Garry Thomas Morse with Sonia Di Placido this Friday coming. Garry is here in residence from Winnepeg. Please come welcome him as we celebrate his new collection, Safety Sand from Talonbooks.

*ANNE MICHAELS, from To Write in WHAT WE SAW (McClelland & Stewart, 2017)

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