Thimbles Virtual Book Tour Official Page!

Thimbles Official Book Trailer created by Jett Shields

“A moving evocation of the pain of loss and of the ties that bind us, at the deepest level, to those we love. Vanessa Shields takes us through a journey that starts in the heartbreak of watching a loved one die but ends, finally, in the triumph of capturing the fullness of a life, in all its heroism and hardship.”

Nino Ricci, author of ‘Lives of the Saints’


Filmed on location at Suede Productions in Windsor, ON, featuring Vanessa Shields, poet, Amanda Guitard on trumpet and Deborah Dunlop on sewing machine, please view this 28 minute poetry performance anytime!

APRIL 24 -Thimbles makes CBC Books Must-Read Spring Poetry List!

Click here for the full list!

thimbles – New poetry by Vanessa Shields

Published by Palimpsest Press, Windsor, ON

“There are no stories until I ask…”
In this heart-wrenching collection, Vanessa Shields chronicles the life of her Nonna, Maria, from her origins as a seamstress in Italy to her eventual death from dementia. These raw, prosaic poems thread grief, memory, loss, and love together into a conversation that speaks across pages, years, and oceans. Shields bravely interrogates her own feelings of guilt, grief, and curiosity with unflinching precision. As she navigates and accepts Nonna’s decline, Shields takes on the role of witness by excavating the larger narrative that is her Nonna’s legacy. Thimbles is a courageous celebration of the transformative power of love across generations.

Virtual Book Tour Events

Poetry & The Family featuring Margo Wheaton

Join us for our intimate reading about writing about family in poetry! This virtual event was originally postponed – but now it’s happening! Yay!

Margo Wheaton lives and writes in Halifax and will be joining us from her humble abode on the east coast to talk about her latest publications, and how she weaves the stories of family into her poetry.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021 Via Zoom

7pm EST | 8pm ATL

Zoom link we be posted on the day via email/blogs, social media.

To register and guarantee the link sent directly to your email, please send contact Vanessa at

Virtual Book Launch

Thursday, April 29, 2021
7:30PM – 9:00PM EST
Via Zoom

Reading, discussion, Q&A and live book signing with Vanessa Shields and special guest host Charis Cotter.

To see what happened at this incredible launch, CLICK HERE!

Special thanks to the Writers Union of Canada for a grant for this event.


Last week of April

Zoom interview with Adam Peltier from the Windsor Public Library will be posted on the library’s social media as well as in their e-newsletter.

WPL Book Talk Series

HOWL Radio Interview

Broadcasting Tuesday, May 11th, 2021

With Host Valentino Assenza
CIUT Radio, 89.5FM – Toronto

Click here for the live stream!


Thursday, May 13, 2021

Planet Earth Poetry – Featured Reader

Date: Friday, May 14th, 2021

All Write In Sin City Podcast Release! *NEW*

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Interview with Sarah, Kim and Irene, the literary magicians at All Write In Sin City, Windsor’s amazing literary podcast! Have a watch and listen as we discuss ‘Thimbles’. We laugh. We talk. We get emotional…! The interview will post on all social media platforms, but start HERE on the All Write In Sin City website. Discover the incredible conversations already had – and become a fan!

Take a look at the teaser trailer! Woot! Woot!

Poetry & The Family- POSTPONED!


Virtual Reading & Discussion with Vanessa Shields and Halifax poet Margo Wheaton on the art of writing poetry about family, home and place.
Thursday, May 20, 2021
Time: 7pm EST | 8pm ATL

Special thanks to the Writers Union of Canada for a grant for this event.

The Joy of Editing

Thursday, June 3, 2021

What a grand success! Thank you Abbey for the amazing conversation and remembering and teaching! Thanks to all who joined us!

Thank you to the League of Canadian Poets for a grant for this event!

The Business Of Dreams


Date: Thursday, June 10th, 2021
Time: 7:00PM – 8:30PM EST
Via Zoom

Discussion and reading featuring Vanessa Shields, Poet and Owner of Gertrude’s Writing Room, Stephanie Steinberg, Journalist and Owner of the Detroit Writing Room, Hosted by Journalist Jillian Berman

Stephanie Steinberg, a Detroit-based journalist, and Vanessa Shields, a poet, dreamed the same dream. Both bursting with creativity and a deep desire to support writers in their communities, each opened a small creative space as a small business. They even had the same small business name. What separated them was a border — a mile-long river named Detroit! The Detroit Writing Room and Gertrude’s Writing Room opened their doors to their writing communities within a year of each other. Since then, each business has bloomed and expanded into vibrant, richly diverse and extraordinary hubs for creativity. Moderated by New York Writing Room coach Jillian Berman — a business reporter for MarketWatch — join Stephanie and Vanessa in a virtual discussion as they share how they keep their personal writing dreams cultivated as they grow their dreams for their small businesses. There will be a Q&A.

Tickets are a suggested minimum $10 donation. All proceeds benefit The Detroit Writing Room’s nonprofit arm Coaching Detroit Forward and support summer writing and photography camps for Detroit high school students. Vanessa’s new book ‘thimbles’ is on sale for pre-sale now. Get your copy at Palimpsest Press. Five signed copies will also be given away during the event — you must be on Zoom to win! Vanessa will be donating the cost of 5 books to CDF as well!

Method Writing – Poetry On Demand

We had a lovely conversation about poetry, writing process and power of sharing creative endeavours with as many people as possible! Thank you to those who played along with us on Instagram! We wrote poems and laughed and learned! Thank you, Marshall James Kavanaugh, Dream Poet For Hire!

Thank you to the League of Canadian Poets for a grant for this event!

The Book Reveal Video

Captured live at Gertrude’s Writing Room

Advanced Praise for Thimbles

“Shields has an ear for the ocean, the fugitive word, insect symphonies and the luscious unsaid. Thimbles is a beautiful blaze of a book, a paean to generations of gently brave women, but, most of all, an unforgettable tribute to the gospel of Nonna.” Kyo Maclear, author of ‘Birds, Art, Life: A Year of Observation’

“In this astonishing, gut-wrenching, and beautiful collection of poems about her Nonna, Vanessa Shields draws on the language of the mundane to explore the sacred geography of the aging female body, the dignity of traditional “woman’s work,” the strength and wisdom of a matriarch, the agony of loss, and the importance of family.” Irene Moore Davis, author of ‘Our Own Two Hands: A History of Black Lives in Windsor’

Vanessa Shields, poet

“In thimbles, Vanessa Shields treats the seamstress finger-preservers as symbols–markers–of passage; of needle and thread through fabric, yes, but also of a beloved ancestor, passing from Italy to Canada, and, then, eventually, inevitably, passing on. But Shields is not merely eulogizing, nor is she simplistically sentimental.  Instead, the poet is herself threading memories and needling contradictions. She spells out the true meanings of the Italian word nostalgia: Longing and homesickness. Yes, the Old Country is unforgettably loveable and lovely; but Love sports seven-league boots. So, Nonna survives and prospers by sewing “between the cooking and the wine and the self-preservation,” and she teaches the poet that stitching is also the lineation of a poem, whether scarf-skinny, or flour-sack-fat, or as wispy and as tough as silk: “If God didn’t think it was special, he would have put your vagina on your neck.” The bottom line? thimbles reminds us that we are all palimpsests of our innumerable forebears, and what connects our endlessly reflected mirror selves is Love.” George Elliott Clarke, 4th Poet Laureate of Toronto (2012-15) & 7th Parliamentary (Canadian) Poet Laureate (2016-17)

“Thimbles takes us on a journey – what it means to love and lose family and culture, intensely stitched together by a master seamstress from the old country. Through the lens of immigration – two worlds, the old country and the new, health and illness, we are poignantly reminded of the bond between Nonna and nipotina, grandmother and granddaughter. The love is tangible here, one can feel it just in picking up the book.” Tina Biello, poet and playwright

“A wonderful weaving of prose, poetry and lists to present a life of love, family and the experiences of her grandmother’s immigration. I feel so close to Nonna, can almost smell her cooking, hear her wiseness and feel that regret we have for never feeling like we can know enough about our roots. Vanessa captures grief, love and family in each piece, while also showing us all the ways poetry can exist in form and feeling. Grief is never just one thing, and this collection embraces it all in a way that is so freeing to experience as a reader.” Charlie Petch, recipient of the Golden Beret Lifetime Achievement Award in Spoken Word

“There are no stories until I ask…” This work is a tribute to family, and an examination of the ties – literal and figurative – that bind us together. It is a love letter to a great family-maker and shaper – a powerful, beautiful, unforgettable Italian Nonna who brings tradition, strength, love, awe, wonder, and vivacity from the mountains of Italy to a small home in Canada. I was immersed in the world Vanessa creates, shapes, captures and presents. Through these poems, she turns her raw storytelling power to the act of sculpting an eternal monument to her grandmother. Each poem shapes the lines… each word forms the details of the body, the clothing… each story fills in the nooks and crannies of the face, the hands, the heart. The story is universal and uniting. There are deep-dives into Nonna’s past, her character, presented beside simple, true reflections of what it’s like to be with our family-makers navigating dementia. The writing is raw, vivid, striking. She at once captures the impossibility of illness and the fear of ringing phones when we’re poised for devastating news. There are some breathtaking works in the collection, alongside some truly beautiful, heart-wrenching words. I read an earlier draft months ago, and the words have stayed with me since then… as though Nonna has, through Vanessa, stitched her stories into my own heart and soul. Congratulations, dear friend – this book is perfect. Thank you, as always, for the words. Christopher Lawrence Menard, playwrite

Thimbles is Vanessa Shields’s best poetry collection to date. Her work not only explores a new maturity in subject matter but her use of the sewing and mountain themes and motifs beautifully stitch together the narrative thread of her 94 poems.
At first, I wasn’t sure I would be able to handle another book about grief especially during the pandemic lockdown, but Shields’s poetic tribute to her nonna read like a well-crafted novel. Divided into three sections: un bacon d’amor; only the good lasts; and domain e un alter giorno, the work pulls in the reader with the introduction of nonna as child, teen, seamstress, and mother and then builds on family relationships, followed by the challenges of her dementia and her family’s reactions to her demise.
“she is threads of light” (p. 83) “dimples like the tip of a thimble” (p. 83)
Heartwarming, tender, personal! A colour-coordinated patchwork of lyrical emotions! Hear my applause!
Deb Okun Hill, author of ‘Tarnished Trophies’

This page is updated regularly! There are also links on the Palimpsest Press Facebook page.

Vanessa’s Books of Poetry


Publicity Manager — Louis Pigeon-Owen

Publisher ⎯ Aimée Parent Dunn
Social Media Manager — Kristina Tiessen

Vanessa Shields