The Great Escape Book Store planning poetry gallery to share inspiring stories

Katya Nosko, with dog Scout, of The Great Escape Book Store by the garage where she will be presenting an upcoming poetry gallery. Photo: Submitted.


With more people finally getting vaccination shots, the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel appears to getting brighter. While many people would like to put the pandemic in the past, some are looking to tell their inspirational stories during such a difficult time.

“Starting in the month of June, we’ll be having a poetry gallery in my garage,” said Katya Nosko, the owner of The Great Escape Book Store on Kingston Road. The gallery will not take place in the store, and will follow all COVID-19 rules and regulations.

The garage is actually located behind the store, said Nosko.

“It’s a large, open garage, where one or two people can go in, independently, and be at peace with these poems around them.”

Nosko said it’s been difficult for the book store to not be open for community members to come in and look for books at their leisure during the pandemic lockdowns, but she is always present and wanting to help enhance the community experience.

“I give that space (her garage) to artists so they can benefit and plus, they give us the benefit of their art,” she said.
“If I can do this, with people being able to go through and read something, which helps people build themselves up from this terrible crisis that we all went through, then I get to feel better myself.”

Nosko added that she hopes the exhibit will add “comfort, solidarity, and life affirmation going forward.”

Social distancing will strictly be enforced as per the mandated rules, but there will be space for people who are bubbled together to share the experience.

Nosko teamed up with local poet and staff physician at the Hospital for Sick Children, Conor Mc Donnell, who also recently published his first poetry collection, Recovery Community, with Mansfield Press, for the gallery which he is also taking part in.

Other participating in the poetry gallery with their works will Amanda Earle, Julie Cameron Gray, Shelly Harder, Jim Johnstone, Kirby, Victoria Mbabazi, A.F. Moritz, Shazia Hafiz Ramji, and Jane Zhao.

“I said to Katya early on: If we’re talking about after the pandemic feel to this, it should feel that everyone is emerging from the clouds and into the sunshine. I would like to have a diverse and multicultural view of the people that contribute to this,” said Mc Donnell.

He praised Nosko for the idea of putting the gallery together. She reached out to Mc Donnell for help and he was more than happy to get some artists to put in their work from the west side of the city.

“This is also an opportunity to get some writers that are up and coming and emerging to get their voices to some people. The west end has an incredible poetry resource in Knife Fork Book that Kirby runs.”

For more information on how to access the garage gallery venue, contact please contact Nosko at The Great Escape Book Store at 416-691-7150 or through email at

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