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“Let there be light

and light appeared.”

KFB Poetry Lab & DesignTO present

JESSICA HIEMSTRA

THE SKY IS FALLING

16-26 JANUARY

k | f | b MEZZANINE

ARTSCAPE YOUNGPLACE 180 SHAW STREET

Opening Reception 16 JAN 6-8PM

There are few people I laugh from my belly with more than Jessica Hiemstra.

I’ve always said, “when my belly is here, I’m here.”

For way too many of us, ‘here’ is neither easy nor welcoming. It is in fact desperate, a step away from joblessness, homelessness, lost/loss, indebtedness, illness/disease, discomfort, unwantedness, despair. The steady disappearances of lives, living species, daily. Survivalism.

“It’s a courageous choice to continue.”

I’ll never forget reading Jane Jacobs’ Dark Age Ahead (Random House, 2004), like her already seeing its approach, decline, decay, consumerism over community well-being, illiteracy, ideologies where “people become unable to think and evaluate problems and solutions by themselves, but simply fall back on their beliefs for ‘pre-fabricated answers’ to any problem they encounter”— individualism to “the point of becoming completely oblivious to community and social factors.”

It’s hard to remember, (let alone cover), the basics: shelter, your next meal, work that’s not hateful, friendships, families, communities. The earth underfoot. Water to cup. The air we steal our next breath. A living.

Another Jane, Jane Sibery, upon releasing her brilliant LP, When I Was a Boy, in a 1993 interview said she had never seen so many of her friends, people, in despair. Her songs a salve, a call, a flame.

We all work so hard just to stay here. Good things do happen, mostly by focused intentions/attentions and fortune we continue to create ‘pockets,’ surroundings that make life sweeter with than without. A reminder this too is humanly possible. Such times.

“What keeps us here?”

Brilliant initiatives, “pockets,” Mockler’s Watch Yr Head, Hoa’s Sunday Afternoons, Richardson’s Citadel, the vision held by Zan’s Shab-e She’r, (every reading series making a go of it), Moritz as Poet Laureate, Fredericton’s Poetry Weekend, AbleHamilton Poetry Collective, The FOLD, slammers, Ugly Duckling, The Blasted Tree, micropresses that dare/delight to print, Small Presses keeping it fresh, evolving, not resting on awards/laurels, Michael the sewer of chapbooks, a bursting of now voices discordant unsettling brave true.

Brick and mortar. Independents. A Different Booklist. Glad Day. Queen Books. Another Story. Type. Flying Books. Lexicon. McNally Robinson. Ben. King’s Co-op. Drawn and Quarterly. Glass. Massy. Paper Hound. Housing Works. Rust Belt. (My familiar, I know there’s more.) Open their doors another day. Such courage.

A multitude of mentors/peers (Jim, Shane, John, Anne, Damian, Hoa, Dale, CA+++). Those we turn to. Read. Listen. Write. Laugh with. Aspire to.

Those who keep us from falling through the cracks. Here. Still.

For me, it’s queer tenacity, my own “queer shoulder to the wheel.” Queers insist on being here (this lifetime, not the next). We’ve always been a fucking wrench to the norm. That and my ‘refresh button’ still functions.

That, and you, dear poet/s, creators of the new, bearers of the word, lovers of the book, tenders to the flame, readers all. Who touch me. Deeply. Daily.

Enter poet/artist Jessica Hiemstra’s The Sky Is Falling, our first installation work in our new space at Artscape Youngplace opening this Thursday as part of DesignTO Festival.

Hiemstra creates an abstracted paper sky on the ceiling of Canada’s only all-poetry bookstore, Knife Fork Book. Using watercolour paper, thread and washes of Genzäh Handmade Watercolours paint, Hiemstra’s sky is one that is torn and sewn back together. This sky has tangled stitching, punctures, long dangling threads, and fragments of poetry sewn into it. Independent bookstores and especially those that specialize in theatre, poetry, music and art are becoming rarer and rarer. Knife Fork Book is an ephemeral place. It continues to exist because its sky continues to be held together by delicate threads.

“Held together by delicate threads.”

Tenacious as fuck. Equally kind.

Radiant skies ahead.

See you at the shop.

KIRBY

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