Poet Amber Dawn was at the Fernie Heritage Library Saturday

Poet Amber Dawn was at the Fernie Heritage Library Saturday

Powerful poet at Booked! series

Poet and novelist Amber Dawn was in Fernie Saturday, Jan. 31 as part of the Fernie Library’s Booked! series.

Poet and novelist Amber Dawn paints a frank and candid portrait of her life over a 15-year period — narrating her history of sex work, queer identity and surviving in a neighbourhood that became synonymous with missing women.

Dawn was in Fernie Saturday, Jan. 31 as part of the Fernie Library’s Booked! series. At the event, Dawn presented her novel, How Poetry Saved My Life, which marries her love of poetry with autobiographical prose and personal essays.

“I had this bright idea that I would pair an incredibly popular genre that is the memoir and an incredibly unpopular genre that is poetry and hope one would influence the other,” explained Dawn of the stylistic union.

Since its release in 2013, Dawn said she has been approached by many women who praised her for telling a story that Dawn herself feels is greatly misunderstood.

“First and foremost I really wanted this book to reach other survivors and sex workers, people who grew up perhaps feeling stuck or feeling silenced. I wanted to encourage people that no story is too stigmatized to be able to hone it or tell it,” said Dawn.

Much of Dawn’s earlier autobiographical stories speak of her time as a street worker in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside neighbourhood where many women went missing and were subsequently killed.

Angie Abdou, Booked! series program coordinator, described Dawn as a powerful presence.

“I was in Vancouver for a writer’s festival and I went to a panel that some of my friends were speaking on. Amber was there too but I didn’t attend primarily for her … but when [Dawn] spoke I was covered in goosebumps and I knew I had to get this women to Fernie,” said Abdou of her invitation to Dawn to take part in Fernie’s literary series.

“It was a brave story that I thought a lot of people needed to hear and I think it’s a testament to her writing and the power of words,” Abdou added.

Throughout the book, Dawn said that she tries to display a multifaceted portrait of her life.

The succinctly titled novel uses poetry as the anchor that pulled her through many difficult moments in her life, but the author also makes note of how words and literature can be celebrated through comedy and love as well.