I met Canadian poet and writer Sheree Fitch many years ago when she came to the kids’ elementary school to talk about her new book There Were Monkeys in My Kitchen. It was my first experience with a visiting author – and a poet! The entire library was buzzing! Kids had been planted on the carpet in rows upon rows – from kindergarten to grade six. The place was jam-packed with young ones from ages 5-11 years. You could hear a pin drop. My own two were in the audience, and they were like everyone else. Wondering what was going to happen next, certain it was going to be … something. Something spectacular! The anticipation was doubling exponentially. I was there, as a parent volunteer, and was equally held in this magical wonderment. Time was stilled.
Then Sheree Fitch appeared, holding a copy of There Were Monkeys in My Kitchen, along with a big, bright smile! Right then, I realized I was in the presence of someone who smiles with her entire essence. The glow of her filled the space with radiance and a shared lightness of being.
We were all captivated. Then Sheree spoke. She told us about her time writing the picture book, about her boys bouncing a basketball all over the kitchen, and about her dad as an RCMP officer, like in the story. Then she told the story- her poem story – from memory, with an exuberance seldom shared, other than at an uplifting rock or religious revival. Simultaneously, she flipped the pages of her book, showing us the pictures. The audience was thunderstruck! We laughed and cheered! I was hooked!
Ever since that day long ago, I’ve been a big fan of Sheree Fitch. Her career has soared. Her works populate bookstores, homes, libraries, and classrooms. She has lent her skill and knowledge of writing, poetry, word-smithing, educating, and speaking to us all. We have grown with Sheree- mothered our families, shaped our lives, cried, and laughed along the way. Sheree Fitch has been there with her words.
WORDS. She has built words into stories to help us sort out the fun and the hardship life can deliver our way, in random swirls of trickles or buckets, depending on the whim. I have never met Sheree in person, other than that day, so long ago, inside the elementary school. More recently, a few years back, via email, I sent her and she read the manuscript of my children’s chapter book, Beast Bot. She graciously explained she seldom reads manuscripts, but the story touched her. She then offered a book blurb! Her words proudly sit along with my words in that book. I am honoured to this day and will be for all my days.
Sheree’s hand has been on the shoulder of many aspiring and career authors, guiding them with her knowledge, wisdom, and encouragement. Now, as Sheree and her family face the uncertain waters of Alzheimer’s, she is using words to share her works-in-progress, titled Moments. When I look at Sheree and her beloved husband Gilles dancing together in the CBC video clip, I remember one thing. She is the person I saw years before. Sheree Fitch, with the most dazzling whole-being smile, steadfast graciousness, and joie de vivre. Sheree Fitch, the writer of poetry and novels for kids and us bigger kids. Sheree Fitch is here with us, and present, Canada, as she holds up her heart, saying: Let me share my WORDS.
Pick up anything to read by Sheree Fitch and be led into her world, which is really your world, which is really our world. A world that’s as timeless as the people in it. Your heart will never be the same. Thank goodness. And, Thank You, Sheree Fitch.
Sheree lives with her husband, Gilles, and many critters on Happy Doodle Do Hobby farm in River John, Nova Scotia where they ran a seasonal book shoppe, Mabel Murple’s Books Shoppe and Dreamery for five years. Now they are re-dreaming!
Photo Credit – Keith Minchin
Carrie Stanton has a BA in Political Science from the University of Calgary. She is the author of The Jewel and Beast Bot, and picture books, Emmie and the Fierce Dragon and The Gardener. Carrie loves to write stories that grow wings and transport readers everywhere. She reads and enjoys stories from every genre.