Poems in new Victoria collection hint at writers’ personal stories

Shelters, rehab centres release commemorative poetry book

Wallace Steeves reads his poem Freedom

Wallace Steeves reads his poem Freedom

As celebrations wind down from Victoria’s 150th anniversary, a new poetry collection is giving a voice to some lesser-known stories of the city.

Victoria on the Banks of the Mainstream is a collection of poetry written by marginalized residents during weekly sessions at the Victoria Cool Aid Society’s Rock Bay Landing and Sandy Merriman House shelters, Peers Victoria Resource Society, Beacon of Hope House and the Addictions and Rehabilitation Centre at the Salvation Army.

“Some of the poems speak to the loneliness of how it feels that the world doesn’t really want to see or hear you or acknowledge that you have needs,” said Don McTavish, Cool Aid’s manager of shelters.

“I think one thing that they have in common is that they have felt passed by.”

Some of the budding poets read their work aloud during the launch of the book, July 31 at Rock Bay Landing.

The soft-cover poetry collection, edited by Dvora Levin, was funded by a grant from the Greater Victoria Spirit Committee Society.

Though the book has been released, Cool Aid will continue to offer writing programs for its residents, something McTavish is convinced brings positive results. “To be able to still express hope and desire (through poetry) speaks to the human spirit,” he said.

The book is available at Munro’s Books for $20, with all proceeds going to the participating shelters.

dpalmer@vicnews.com