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So True: better and better

In February of last year, I went to a reading on the second floor of the Black Swan on the Danforth and said to myself, This is it, the space I’ve been looking for. I’d wanted to find a way for my longterm students to take their work out to the world, and here it was, a warm room, long, narrow and comfortable, with, most important of all, a stage at one end and a bar at the other.

So I said to my Thursday writers – Hey kids, let’s start a show! And we did. I asked the charming, funny, utterly adorable Jason to be the M.C. The first batch of readers, last May, was all from my home group, but the next, in July, included other students from U of T and Ryerson, and we went on from there. Yesterday was the fifth So True. And yesterday’s was the best so far. We’re getting good at this.

I have to admit, at the risk of sounding blowing own horny – I am now the producer of a powerfully moving and interesting show. Yesterday four men and five women read pieces on the topic Mother/Father. Many read about their missing fathers, ranging from Merrijoy, a university professor who has only recently retired at 87, about her beloved father who was born in 1894, to Neudis, 27, from Venezuela, about how she was only six when she saw her father “in a long, dark box.” Shanny, who leads bicycle tours in exotic countries, read about his hippy parents and his search for the truth about his long-dead dad, and Morgan, who writes about sports for the Toronto Star, about how much, at sixteen, he knew he would miss his dying father who inspired him in his football career.

Jason read a hilarious piece about his overprotective parents, still wanting to drive him home at 35, and Karen a letter to her difficult, judgemental mother, which made us laugh even as it made us wince. Carol told us about her terror and joy at adopting a baby in the Caribbean, and Michael, about learning that his workaholic father did not show him how to live – that in fact his dad, despite his surface success, was wrong about almost everything.

And finally Helen showed us her terrified mother, in Czechoslovakia in 1948, holding her two small children by the hand and running past a guard post in the woods near Austria, to escape the Soviets.

Thrilling, all of it – such breadth of human experience. Sam wrote today, I was laughing and crying through the readings all evening, and had a wonderful time! Can you believe it has been a whole year of wonderful stories in that magical venue, thanks to your vision and inspiration?


Well – the vision was just a stage and a bar. And the inspiration is asking people to be part of it and editing them to death until their pieces are wonderful. It’s a lot of work, and with my usual genius for marketing and profit, I make less than minimum wage doing it. But it’s a joy to watch writers bloom.

Thanks to them all: to Ralph, who runs the Black Swan’s second and the new third floor spaces, which are now called the Social Capital; to the highly professional Gord, who runs our lights and the always-appropriate music between readers; to Jason, who does a spectacular job keeping us entertained; and most of all, to the readers, for their courage, hard work and generosity.

And to the audience – thank you for coming. Please come back for the next So True Sunday October 25 at 4.30. Topic: Departure. You won’t forget your time with us, guaranteed.

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4 Responses to “So True: better and better”

  1. theresa says:

    Sounds so great. I wish I could be there. Stories, a bar, a generous audience…!

  2. beth says:

    TRUE stories, that's the best part – people standing there, telling the most important stories of their lives. And the audience in the darkness with a drink. It really is something. Maybe you'll be in town for it one day, Theresa… and you can be a guest storyteller.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Man, Beth, this almost makes me want to move to Toronto. I am so extremely happy for and proud of you. Love, Lani

  4. beth says:

    Wow, Lani, it must sound good if you're having these extreme thoughts! Maybe one day we can coordinate a visit to the city with a So True event. And you, my darling, such a masterful storyteller yourself. Thank you for being out there.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

Some Blogs I Follow

Chris Walks
This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.

Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.

I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.

Carrie Snyder
Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.

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