And flowers for @knifeforkbook. What a special evening that was last night with @sadmuffin. I had something written down that I was going to say last night at @knifeforkbook and didn’t. So I’ll say it here, even though it usually feels inadequate to say something to the internet. Just because the internet is actually a lousy conversationalist. But. Here: last night me and @sadmuffin read Anne Michaels' poem, To Write, and we gave everyone at the event a flower. It was because I wanted to remind everyone of love. I wanted everyone to feel it. I wanted everyone in the room to remember that love can be unexpected and easily offered. I think love is the most radical, revolutionary act. And that nothing is more serious and important than acts of love. Making art is an act of love for me, and hope. I think we are all a bit dismayed these days. Everyone is shouting so much. And I’m thinking lots about the urgency of love. I dont know if I should duck or stick my head out with all the mudslinging! Anyways. Be revolutionary. Be love. And go to @knifeforkbook and buy books. Kirby is an institution of love and poetry, she's the radical we need.

A post shared by Jessica Joy Hiemstra (@this_moment_looks_like_this) on

Touched (and received).  knife | fork | book

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, What 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)





knife | fork | book at The Dark Side Studio, 244 Augusta Avenue, Second Floor (walk-up above Bunner’s Bakery)

Doors 6:30 Poetry 7-ish  Wear socks (we’re shoeless).

Poet and playwright SHANNON BRAMER lives in Toronto. Previous collections of poetry include: suitcases and other poems (winner of the 2000 Hamilton and Region Best Book Award), scarf, and The Refrigerator Memory. She has also published chapbooks with above/ground press and BookThug, and regularly conducts poetry workshops for students of all ages. An illustrated collection of poems for very young children is forthcoming from Groundwood Books in the spring of 2019. Precious Energy is her first full-length collection in over a decade.
CATHERINE GRAHAM is the author of The Celery Forest (Wolsak and Wynn, Buckrider Books), a CBC Books Top 10 Canadian Poetry Collection of 2017Her Red Hair Rises with the Wings of Insects (Wolsak and Wynn, 2013, now in its second printing), Winterkill (Insomniac Press, 2010), The Red Element(Insomniac Press, 2008), Pupa (Insomniac Press, 2003) and The Watch (Abbey Press, 1998). Her first novel Quarry was published with Two Wolves Press. Winner of the IFOA’s Poetry NOW competition and an Excellence in Teaching Award from the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies, her books have been shortlisted for the Raymond Souster Award, CAA Poetry Award, nominated for the ReLit Award and she has appeared on CBC Radio One’s The Next Chapter with Shelagh Rogers. Her writing has been published in literary journals in North America, the United Kingdom and Ireland and has been frequently anthologized.
JESSICA HIEMSTRA is widely published in literary journals.She has three full-length books of poems (Apologetic for Joy, Self-Portrait Without a Bicycle The Holy Nothing). She edits, illustrates and is working on a novel she hopes to finish before she dies.

A whirlwind

black squirrel

good signage

“Kirby, would you come in January?”*

Okay, she fell in love with this place. A warm, welcoming evening at TREE READING SERIES (Ottawa) with PEARL PIRIE hosting a full house at BLACK SQUIRREL BOOKS & ESPRESSO BAR (a haven) with featured poets MARGO LAPIERRE  (Washing Off the Raccoon Eyes, Guernica Editions, 2017) & KIRBY (She’s Having a Doris Day, knife | fork | book, 2017) along with STUART ROSSCHRISTINE MCNAIR, CHRIS JOHNSON, MICHAEL DENNIS, NINA JANE, STEPHEN BROCKWELL, to name but a few, and a wonderful sit-down interview with AMANDA EARL for THE SMALL MACHINE TALKS (sadly minus a.m. kozak) over a pint and truffle fries at Patty’s Pub.
* “Pearl, anytime.”