BOOK TOUR RE-CAP – LAST STOP! THE STEADY – TORONTO
Friday, November 25, 2016
It was more than a month ago since my self-declared ‘last stop’ on my book tour event at The Steady in Toronto. It feels like it was yesterday. It feels like it was a year ago. It feels like I am still between worlds! I began my train trip to Toronto on VIA Rail, and settled in with my Oracle cards, my journal and some books. Oh, and Tim Horton’s.
Oh, the cards are always right on the money. I had a solid, soul-strengthening journal about feeling in extremes – feeling like two people in one body – feeling like I want to keep going and travel the world reading and writing poetry on every breath – feeling like I wanted to run home and stuff my face into Oscar’s soft fur, and hold Jett and Miller and Nick for three days straight…Oh, the emotions ran thick and high as I ventured out for this book tour! But, knowing that this was the last stop on the tour brought about some new thoughts, and a revived commitment to just having fun.
I do love taking trains. Although I felt a little need to walk around this time, so I did and took some pics of the zooming past me landscape. Fitting. Then a staff person told me to sit down, I was standing in the wrong place! Oh well. I took the time to write out my ‘set’ list – the list of poems I would read, and some thoughts on why I was reading them. I also wrote down some thoughts on the magnitude of the book tour for me – how I planned it, and did it and now it was reaching its conclusion! I wanted to be honest and brave – just like how I started the tour way back in September at my book launch.
I had some time before the reading when I arrived in Toronto, so I took a walk to my hotel, found a lovely bookstore called Willow Books (I could have spent days in there!), and then I ordered room service! Yum! A big, greasy burger and fries…I hadn’t treated myself to a meal this…um, robust (!) the whole tour! I turned on the television and there was a Will & Grace marathon on! Yahoo! I’m a big fan!
I was nervous about this last reading. It was with three other poets who I admire deeply. All of whom graciously said ‘yes’ upon my request to share a reading with me, and one of whom I hadn’t met in the flesh yet (Spencer!). Plus, my friend Pat agreed to perform as our musical guest – his music and voice pretty much makes me weep with admiration! So I knew I would be surrounded by people who are highly creative and inspiring, and I wanted to fit in!
Indeed, ‘fitting in’, and feeling as though I ‘belonged’ seemed to be a recurring theme throughout this tour for me. Alas, I had to breathe deeply, have confidence and trust that everyone would show up, that there would be an audience, and that we’d all hang out after and connect a little more.
On the way to The Steady, my girl Alice (my volunteer life-coach/assistant/PR manager/dance partner/partner in crime), we passed some cool places including the Poop Cafe – yes, you read that correctly. It’s Toronto’s First toilet-themed cafe. Huh. We didn’t go in because it was closed…but I took a photo since poop is such a big part of my life, and I thought the kids would get a kick out of it! (They did.) I saw a huge billboard promoting slam poetry, and I felt at ease. Yes. Poets Matter. We are on billboards, man. So cool. Once at the Steady, I set up some things, did a mic check and pretended to be a rock star – I do this a lot, I’ve noticed! The Steady is a hip place. It’s long and thin with a seating area in the front with a bar, and a big dance floor/performance area at the back. The energy was up, the lighting was great. There was a tiki bar!! And the gal working there…gah, her name escapes my brain…she was awesome!
Everyone arrived on time! And before we knew it, a nice crowd settled in and we began our poetry reading.
Oh man. Ashley Elizabath-Best (on her 28th reading gig for her new book Slow States of Collapse – ECW Press) opened the poetry floor reading poems that riveted and held us. James Lindsay read from his collection Our Inland Sea (Wolsak & Wynn) clever, amusing and powerful poetry. Spencer, a big man with a smokin’ soft soul he wears in his beard, read from his collection Slouching the Dream (Nonpublishing) and made us laugh and cry, and tap (as per his request and hope). I mean, this was the kind of stuff that I dream of being a part of – sharing a [tiki!] stage with an army of poets whose work is raw, edgy, clever, honest and necessary. What an honour it was to hear them and feel their words settle into me forever.
By the time it was my turn, I was all heart-beat and sweat, but I felt safe and…most importantly, I felt like I belonged.
Thank you Miss Alice for taking photos of me! I read from my heart, made people laugh…I read some new poetry too, which felt very cool. In the end, I believe it was a grand event filled with moving poetry and music! We all sold books too! Hazzah!
Afterward, we hung out a bit to exchange, sell, sign books and promise to stay connected (which we are!). It was truly the best last stop! Thank you everyone!
Post poetry, we had some drinks then hit the dance floor. Mama *loves* to dance, so this was some sweet icing to my already delicious cake of a final book tour stop!
Thank you Ashley, James, Spencer, Pat, Alice, Ryan, Vinny, Chris, the Steady Family, the League of Canadian Poets/Toronto Arts Council, and everyone who came out to support us. I’m thrilled and warm and fuzzy just remembering this momentous night!
I did it. I really did it. #booktour2016