FROM THE HEART
From the Heart of It All: Ten Years of Writing from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (Otter Press), edited by Heidi Greco, is the latest and final anthology to come from Thursdays Writing Collective, a group of writers who met in a room at the Carnegie Library at Hastings and Main streets in Vancouver (often referred to as Canada’s poorest postal code) every Thursday afternoon for two hours from 2008 until 2018. From the Heart of It All gives us a glimpse of Vancouver during a tumultuous time of hyper-development, as seen by members of a community who are often the first to experience the effects of what some call urban renewal and others call gentrification. A launch for the book was held this past spring at a café in the Vancouver Film School, an institution that has, over the last decade, taken over a handful of buildings on the Downtown Eastside. At the launch, contributors dropped their names into a hat and when their name was pulled they were allotted three minutes on stage to read their bit. The evening was emceed masterfully, in a hurry-up offence style, by the Vancouver writer Amber Dawn: no lingering, just say your piece and give the stage to the next performer. The resulting readings were earnest and often humorous, the mood celebratory and uplifting. The last speaker of the night announced that a new writing collective—the Downtown Eastside Writing Collective—was starting up to replace the Thursdays Writing Collective, and would be meeting at the same time, in the same place— hopefully for many years.