Okanagan Authors to share personal stories as part of Valley Voices Spring Reading Series

Poets to pour out souls

Writers, poets and lovers of poetry will be gathering in Vernon this month to experience the different lives of two Okanagan authors through readings of their latest work.

Poets Michael V. Smith and Clare Thiessen bring together two thought-provoking collections: one written over decades and discovered by accident, another is described as an outlet for the words of a survivor poured onto the page.

Smith is an award-winning poet, author and screenwriter and will read from his new book of poetry Queers Like Me.

“I found this book in my files kind of by accident. I went looking through journals and found a bunch of poems I had abandoned in draft form,” says Smith who decided to edit them as a gift to commemorate his 50th birthday.

“That got me going deeper in my files where I found a bunch of long poems that really suited this suite. I put them all together and, voila, I had a new book.”

Smith hopes his book gives readers a glimpse into his own life and experience as a gay guy who grew up poor in a small town. “There aren’t a lot of books where I see myself in the world. I’m always reading books where folks don’t sound like me, which is a thrill, really. I hope readers will appreciate reading about someone who doesn’t sound like them.”

Thiessen is a poet and film photographer who will be sharing excerpts from her debut chapbook – a short booklet – 'tiger' .

“The chapbook came about very slowly as I started to process a traumatic situation from my teen years. It happened organically, writing as an outlet, and then it started to form a narrative with patterns as I wrote more poems in the suite,” says Thiessen.

“It started with my own experience with abusive men and turned into a reflection on abusive men in general. It’s about fear and healing.” She shares her stories with the hope readers can relate to and learn from tiger poems.

The April 17 evening is part of the Valley Voices spring reading series which celebrates local writing and writers of all ages and stages of their craft. Doors to Vernon’s Bean Scene Cafe will open at 6:30 p.m. with the authors to begin at 7 p.m.

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