Valentine’s Day poetry event at Union Station intrigues local commuters

By Alexander Sowa

‘Poetry in Union: Railway Lines and Valentines’ lets travellers get a personalized love poem written by one of nine professional Toronto poets

Union Station passersby were encouraged to engage in early Valentine’s Day festivities by allowing Toronto poets to personalize a poem for them.

Commuters and visitors were invited to sit down, enjoy a free cup of hot chocolate and doughnuts while the poets did their work.

“You sit with a person in an intimate space, at a desk. Not across the desk, but together. And you just ask them questions. What’s on your mind? What’s on your heart? What do you think of when you think of train travel?” said Kate Marshall Flaherty, organizer of the event.

Kate Marshall Flaherty at ‘Poetry in Union.’ (CanCulture/Alexander Sowa)

Kate Marshall Flaherty at ‘Poetry in Union.’ (CanCulture/Alexander Sowa)

Flaherty continued to explain what the participants could expect at the end of their session with their Toronto poet.

“Eventually, as any poet will tell you, you get an image or a spark or an idea, and then you write for a minute or two. And then you read it to the traveller. Even amongst ourselves when we did it, it was very powerful. I can only imagine what it must be like for an unsuspecting traveller,” she said.

Hannah Martin, a marketing company owner, said that it was interesting to have someone attentively listen to what they had to say, as well having questions posed to them that people would not normally ask.

“(The poets) ask you questions … like ‘What is it in your life that’s going on that you need this for?’ And then you have to think about it,” said Martin.

Hannah Martin, left, with her company co-owner Shannon Litt, right, posing with their poems at the event. (CanCulture/Alexander Sowa)

Hannah Martin, left, with her company co-owner Shannon Litt, right, posing with their poems at the event. (CanCulture/Alexander Sowa)

Dominique Bernier-Cormier, one of the poets, described the writing process as wonderful and intimate.

“It feels like you create a space very quickly where people aren’t strangers anymore, very fast. But it’s tough because with only a couple of questions, you have to get a whole bunch of images to put in the poem,” he said.

Dominique Bernier-Cormier, Toronto poet, smiling while on a break from poem-writing. (CanCulture/Alexander Sowa)

Dominique Bernier-Cormier, Toronto poet, smiling while on a break from poem-writing. (CanCulture/Alexander Sowa)

Chloe Catan, the public art program manager for Waterfront Toronto, said that she gained a great admiration for the poets.

“I decided that I wanted to give my husband a poem for Valentine’s Day. I told Dominique the story of how we met in Mexico City. He listened to me for a few minutes, and then wrote a beautiful poem. I’m really happy,” said Catan.

‘A big first step’

The event, “Poetry in Union: Railway Lines and Valentines” was presented by the League of Canadian Poets.

According to Ayesha Chatterjee, the league’s former president, they are a “non-profit organization whose mandate is to encourage and promote poetry in Canada, as well as Canadian poets.”

This event is the first of its sort to be held by the league. “We usually don’t do events. Usually what we do is we’re in the background, we help to provide funding, we tweet, we use social media, we do stuff like that. We have an annual lecture at a conference, but this is the first time we’ve done anything quite like this. It’s a big first step,” said Chatterjee.

Flaherty emphasized that it was important for the poets involved to be from Toronto and showcase diversity.

“We really tried to have a cross-section of Toronto, which I think is the most multicultural, most diverse population in the world. It’s really important that we covered a microcosm of the world in Toronto,” said Flaherty.

The nine poets involved are all Toronto residents - Lesley Belleau, Dominique Bernier-Cormier, Ronna Bloom, Michael Fraser, Suparna Ghosh, Jessica Hiemstra, Max Layton, Rajinderpal Pal and Kate Marshall Flaherty.

The Right Time

Flaherty said that she was inspired to create the event in 2017 after being sent a video of “The Poet Is In,” a similar event that was held at Grand Central Station in New York.

Since Union Station had just been renovated, she said that they were working hard in order to make it accessible, arts friendly and community wide.

Flaherty said that she hopes to make this an annual event and that they are working with Union Station to make it happen.

If you are interested in more events like this at Union Station, you can view a full calendar of all the free activities they offer at

5 Canadian films to watch on Valentine’s Day

By Ivonne Flores Kauffman

The Fireflies Are Gone (2018)

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This film directed by Sébastien Pilote follows the story of Léonie (Karelle Tremblay), a teenager who is desperate to graduate from high school and leave the industrial town where she lives.

V-day sucks when you are single. However, instead of spending all day feeling miserable for not having a partner, buy a bottle of wine, turn off your phone and watch this entertaining film. It will make you laugh all your problems out. Tremblay’s character is so relatable that by the end of the film you will say, “F**k it” and embrace the fact that you are young, single and living a life full of possibilities.

Kingsway (2018)   

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If you hate the idea of celebrating February 14th because you have recently gone through a breakup, do not worry. We have the perfect movie for you: Bruce Sweeney’s newest production Kingsway. This movie, shot in Vancouver, portrays the struggles of life and love in a darkly funny way. According to the movie’s marketing material, “Kingsway is a romantic comedy about suicide, infidelity, and in-laws.” This Valentine’s Day you are allowed to spend all day in pajamas, eating ice cream and watching sad movies. But remember, there are plenty more fish in the sea.

Little Italy (2018)

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This romantic comedy by American director Donald Petrie is the perfect film to watch with your significant other on V-Day. Set in Toronto’s Little Italy, the film follows the complicated love story between Nikki (Emma Roberts) and Leo (Hayden Christensen), whose parents hate each other. Nikki, a successful chef, has to relocated to her hometown Toronto, where she reunites with Leo. This Romeo and Juliet inspired movie promises to deliver a chill evening full of cuddles and laughs. Don’t forget to order your favourite Italian food! We swear you will get hungry while watching it.

The New Romantic (2018)


“Romance is dead,” writes Blake Conway (Jessica Barden), an aspiring journalist, who after years of searching for a Hollywood-style romance has given up the idea of finding love. Instead of spending all day crying for being single, Barden’s character decides to face the world and become a sugar baby, so she can finally be debt free and launch her career as a gonzo journalist.

This romantic comedy is the debut film of Canadian filmmaker Carly Stone and the winner of the 2018 SXSW Special Jury Recognition For First Feature award. This movie, full of comedy and cynicism can be enjoyed with your girlfriends, partner or even by yourself. With a super cool cast including Jessica Barden (The End of the F***king World), Brett Dier (Pretty Little Liars), Camila Mendes and Hayley Law (Riverdale)., The New Romantic is a must watch for this Valentine’s Day.

Clara (2018)

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This sci-fi love story is a great alternative if you or your significant other are looking for a more serious plot this Valentine’s Day. The movie follows the story of Dr. Isaac Bruno (Patrick J. Adams) who believes there are Earth-like planets in the universe. His new assistant Clara (Troian Bellisario) does more than helping him with his research; the pair spends endless nights debating the meaning of their existence. The connection formed between both of them leads Bruno to discover there are more things in life than numbers. Apart from having an exciting plot, the chemistry between Adams and his wife Bellisario is undeniable, and this movie is proof of it. The film will be available for rent or purchase on iTunes, The Cineplex Store and Google Play on Feb. 12.