Reader Profile: Claire Kelly

For every day of our Indiegogo campaign, we’ll be sharing profiles from readers and supporters of Glass Bookshop both local to the city and from across Canada. Visit our campaign page now to claim cool perks and support us in building a beautiful brick-and-mortar space in downtown Edmonton. And read on to discover why today’s featured reader is excited to one day visit Glass Bookshop!

Claire Kelly lives and writes in Edmonton on Treaty 6 territory where she works at NeWest Press. Her first full-length collection, Maunder, which centres on the act of walking, is available from Palimpsest Press. In 2016, she curated a chapbook of emerging Edmonton poets for Frog Hollow Press’ City Series. Her writing has appeared online and in journals across Canada, with poems in upcoming issues of Grain, The Antigonish Review, and QWERTY Magazine. In 2017, her poem “Mother, What Should We Do Now?” was longlisted for the CBC Poetry Prize, and her poem “First the Children Stopped Asking for a Ride” was featured in the League of Canadian Poets’ Poem in Your Pocket Booklet. One Thing – Then Another, her second collection of poetry, was released Spring 2019 with ECW Press and looks at the disjointedness of cross-country relocation. Read on to discover why she always has a book on her and what she believes Glass Bookshop can offer the community.

How did books and the act of reading come to be meaningful to you?
I truthfully can’t remember not having books be a significant part of my life. My mother is a great book lover and would read to us and read for her own pleasure. I am a tad hyper and books were a sure-fire way to keep me from running around constantly.

What is your relationship now to books and reading?
I always joke that I would have to take up a really time-consuming addiction to replace the time and energy I put into books, both reading and writing them. If I don’t have a book with me I feel like I’ve forgotten something integral: like my pants or my glasses. I seriously do not understand how people get through regular situations, such as public transportation, line-ups, or waiting rooms, without books. Do people really like being alone with their thoughts that much?

Is there a book that has had significant impact on you?
I am a re-reader. I like to revisit the emotions and characters in books, and I usually link books with seasons and want to return yearly to certain titles. One such book is Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes. I first read it when I was twelve and working as a newspaper deliverer. I was not good at this job because I was so enthralled by the book. It would take me hours to accomplish my tiny route. Once I even accidentally through an issue onto someone’s porch roof because I didn’t want to look away from the page. It was late October—which is when the novel takes place—and I absolutely associate stepping on dry fallen leaves with the evil-confronting tale of Jim and Will.

How does literature influence your sense of community?
I believe reading allows you to create empathy with people who are not like you, who have different lives than you, who live in different places. Simply, my sense of community is broadened through books. Even something as simple as having never lived in a city until my thirties: when I moved to Edmonton, I’m certain my transition to the faster pace was smoother because I had read books like Timothy Taylor’s The Blue Light Project and Eden Robinson’s Blood Sports. Though they took place in different cities and confront situations I have not confronted (thank goodness), the speed of the city is present in them.

How do you find new books or writers?
Various places: readings, literary journals, online book lists, reviews, word of mouth. For Canadian poetry, I find hearing a poet read their work is one easy way to make me buy, but I also find 49th Shelf’s book previews a great source for knowing what is coming out.

Can you share a memorable experience you’ve had in a bookstore? What makes it stand out for you?
I was in a bookshop in Toronto (I can’t remember which one…sorry!) and saw an author I recognized. I approached him and he was totally and happily taken aback and said it was the first time someone had recognized him for his work. I was glad that I was able to give a writer something when that writer had given me his words.

What do you think Glass Bookshop could offer Edmonton’s community of readers and writers?
We are in desperate need for accessible venues in this city. I think the store can be a place where different facets of the community can come together to celebrate words on the page. I am very excited for more books in more places!

Want to help make this reader’s dream for Glass Bookshop a reality? Support Glass Bookshop’s Indiegogo campaign by buying some cool perks today here:

Claire Kelly
Matthew Stepanic