Nanaimo poet pens book about Hep C Journey

For Immediate Release

January 29, 2016

Nanaimo poet pens book about Hepatitis C journey

UndetectableAward-winning poet Kim Goldberg never thought she would live to see a cure for Hepatitis C. When the cure arrived and Goldberg reaped the victory, it gave her the poem of a lifetime.

That poem has now become her seventh book: Undetectable. In it, she documents her Hepatitis C journey using a Japanese literary style called haibun, a travel diary paired with haiku.

Goldberg will launch her new book with a free public talk and reading at Nanaimo Harbourfront Library on Saturday, February 27 at 1:00 pm.

Goldberg lived with Hepatitis C for more than 40 years, telling no one, until she was cured in 2015 after participating in a clinical trial of the new Hepatitis C drug, Harvoni.

“I was extremely lucky to get a seat in this trial,” Goldberg says. “Because of the high price of the new drugs that are now able to eliminate Hepatitis C, I was not eligible to receive them under the BC Medical Services Plan. I wasn’t deemed to be sick enough yet, and I had never been willing to try the older and highly toxic interferon-based treatments. If it hadn’t been for this clinical trial, I would still have Hepatitis C,” she says.

Harvoni, developed by Gilead Sciences Inc., has a wholesale price of $1,125 (US) per pill. In most cases, including Goldberg’s, 84 pills are required to eradicate the hepatitis C virus from the body.

Even with their negotiated discounts, private insurance companies as well as government-funded health care plans say they would go bankrupt if they approved the new drugs for everyone who has Hepatitis C.

Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus that slowly damages the liver over a period of many years. It has the potential to lead to cirrhosis, liver cancer and death. It is the leading cause of liver transplants in Canada and the United States, and it has surpassed HIV as a cause of death.

Approximately 250,000 people in Canada have chronic Hepatitis C, and more than three million people in the United States. Worldwide, there are at least 180 million people living with this virus.

Goldberg hopes to use her new book to raise public awareness about Hepatitis C and to encourage everyone to get tested and treated, now that the cure has arrived.

Kim Goldberg

Kim Goldberg, author of the new book Undetectable

“This is a much stigmatized illness,” says Goldberg. “And as a result of that stigma, it is a disease people don’t talk about. Many people don’t even know they have Hepatitis C, or that it can now be cured. The stigma is causing needless suffering, untreated illness, and even death,” she says.

“The way to end the stigma is to normalize discussion about Hepatitis C, to make it part of the public discourse the same way we openly discuss cancer or diabetes,” Goldberg adds. “Nobody asked for Hepatitis C. And everyone who has it deserves to be cured.”

Goldberg is the author of seven books of poetry and nonfiction including Red Zone about urban homelessness, and the popular guidebook Where to See Wildlife on Vancouver Island. She is a recipient of the Goodwin’s Award for Excellence in Alternative Journalism, the Rannu Fund Poetry Prize for Speculative Literature, and other distinctions. She holds a degree in biology from University of Oregon and has lived in Nanaimo for 40 years.


Undetectable can be purchased directly from the author for $19 (US or Canadian funds).

Free shipping in North America. Add $10 for overseas.

Send payment by PayPal to

Or mail a cheque to Kim Goldberg, 35 Prideaux Street, Nanaimo, BC V9R 2M3, Canada.

For more information, visit her website:

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Undetectable – My Hep C Story

by Kim Goldberg
January 28, 2016

Undetectable I am a poet. And my recent journey through Hepatitis C treatment and cure has given me the poem of a lifetime. That poem has now become my latest book: Undetectable.

I had Hepatitis C for more than 40 years before being cured in 2015 in a clinical trial of Harvoni, the world’s most expensive pill.

I was first diagnosed in 1995. But I probably contracted the virus in the early 1970s from injection drug use as a teenager. Until last year, I had secretly co-existed with Hepatitis C for nearly my entire life, and certainly my entire adult life. I am eager to find out who I will be without it!

Hepatitis C is a virus that slowly damages the liver over a period of many years. It has the potential to lead to cirrhosis, liver cancer, and even death. It is the leading cause of liver transplants in the United States and Canada, and has surpassed HIV as a cause of death.

Approximately 250,000 people in Canada have chronic Hepatitis C, and more than three million people in the United States. New estimates place the US figure at potentially seven million.

Worldwide, there are at least 180 million people living with this virus. The majority of people with chronic Hepatitis C don’t even know they are infected, even though they may have had the virus in their bodies for decades.

A Life Unaware

Back in 1977, I completed a Bachelor’s degree in biology from University of Oregon, in my hometown of Eugene. I was fascinated by viruses and their status as quasi-life, existing as they do on the cusp of our definition of life. It would be many years later before I discovered the virus occupying my own body.

Kim Goldberg at micSince 1985, I have supported myself as a freelance writer in Canada, winning awards for my investigative journalism, poetry and spoken-word performances. In that time, I have authored seven books of nonfiction and poetry, as well as screenplays, essays, science fiction stories and a couple thousand articles for newspapers and magazines. I was a current affairs columnist for Canadian Dimension magazine for 12 years, and a freelance news correspondent for the Vancouver Sun in the 1980s and 1990s, among my various gigs.

But my writing career was not the only thing growing during those years. The progression of my undiagnosed Hepatitis C was accompanied by fatigue, nausea, unbearable itching, dizziness, cancelled journalism assignments, a brain wrapped in cotton candy, swollen knuckles, stiff knees, days in bed with no food, nights with no sleep.

My physical symptoms disappeared after I was diagnosed in 1995 and made immediate changes to my diet and lifestyle to support my liver. In 1997, I began studying T’ai Chi, Qigong and Liuhebafa. These practices involved rigorous physical conditioning, further bolstering my health.

However my shift to writing poetry in 2005, after a lengthy career of hard-hitting journalism and nonfiction, was partly a result of my brain no longer being able to hold hundreds of facts, quotes, connections and timelines long enough to generate a complex political article, let alone a nonfiction book. Such cognitive decline (brain fog) is a common consequence of Hepatitis C. Fortunately, it seems to disappear after the virus is gone.

Yet I do not feel diminished by this experience. My journey has been wondrous and transformative. I would not be who or what I am today without every part of it.

My Cure

In May 2015, I was lucky enough to land a seat in a clinical trial of Harvoni plus ribavirin for genotype 3 people with Hepatitis C. The New Zealand version of this trial had a 100 percent cure rate for people with my profile. So I was excited to make the cut for the Canadian trial!

ferryMy study group was based at the LAIR Centre in Vancouver, BC. I live on Vancouver Island, which meant I had many early-morning ferry rides to Vancouver for my check-ups. My 12 weeks of treatment often felt like an extended cruise ship holiday. (Well, okay, maybe not the hemolytic anemia caused by the ribavirin.)

After just one week of treatment, I was saying “Hello, brain! Long time no see!” That’s how quickly the new drugs work. After my first seven days of treatment, my viral load had dropped from four million to 130. After four weeks, I was undetected. And I have remained undetected ever since.

Hepatitis-uninstallingGiven what is now known about the life cycle and replication process of Hepatitis C, and the action of the new direct-acting antivirals on the virus, it appears that the new drugs do indeed provide a true cure for Hepatitis C, not simply a remission. They eradicate the virus from the body.

Various all-oral treatments are now available for Hepatitis C, all with extremely high cure rates—often 95 percent or higher. For the current list of recommended treatments for each genotype, see this chart.

My Book: Undetectable

I spent my 12 weeks of treatment writing my latest book: Undetectable. The book is a poetic account of my Hep C journey. I am now using my new book to raise public awareness about Hepatitis C and the politics of withholding the pricey new cure from so many who need it. The book is dedicated to all who are still waiting.


Portrait of Matsuo Basho by Katsushika Hokusai

I wrote Undetectable in a Japanese literary style called haibun. Haibun consists of short, descriptive prose (often a travel diary) paired with haiku poetry. Matsuo Basho, Japan’s most famous and revered poet, launched haibun in the 17th century with his Narrow Road to the Interior and other travel diaries of his foot journeys during the final decade of his life. Basho made the journeys, often in failing health, after he had lost or given away what little he owned. It is a narrative rich with resonance for anyone who has lived with Hepatitis C.

Basho’s journey took him to the rugged interior of his country as well as the esoteric interior of himself. I followed in his footsteps (figuratively speaking) as I wandered Nanaimo’s streets, forests, rocky beaches and dark colonial history during my 84 days of treatment. All the while, I found myself meditating on the many meanings and examples of things undetectable: the virus being driven from my body, the mycorhizza connecting all the trees, the homeless man sleeping beneath the highway, the experiments at the Nanaimo Indian Hospital before it was bulldozed, the 97 humpback whales killed and processed at Piper’s Lagoon until there were no more whales…

As we say in Liuhebafa: May you be river flowing, never ceasing.

Kim GoldbergWellness to all,

Kim Goldberg
Nanaimo, BC

© Kim Goldberg, 2016
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Solitude and the Artist

by Kim Goldberg

solitudeMost people simply cannot grok prolonged solitude. This makes it hard on those of us who work creatively as writers, artists, poets, visionaries. To think the thought that has never been thought, to write the line that has never been written, to tease out the story from the shadow, to conjure the world that has never been conjured… These pursuits all require solitude. And not mere bursts of “alone time” but a plunge into waters whose depth is not known. 

The solitude of the artist is an ocean with possibly no bottom at all, but filled with immense beauty and wonder. Like research and development, the creative journey takes the time it takes. And you don’t know what you’re going to get, or when you’re going to get it, until you’re done. It may take a month, it may take a lifetime. It may take more than one lifetime. 

banana slugSo wondrous is this ocean of solitude (which is really not solitary at all, for it is surging with every manner of non-human entities, matrices, visions) that a forced surfacing is actually painful for the artist. Yet the phone rings. Friends send emails wanting to meet for coffee, wanting to know when you are coming back to Facebook, it’s been three months since you deactivated your account, you are missed, needed, letting people down, hurting their feelings… 

The rapture of sustained solitude is alien to the majority of people. Their lives are simply too littered with outer world commitments, duties, appointments, expectations—all the ephemera of the temporal world. They are wild horse chasing wind, as we say in the practice of Liuhebafa. People will claim they understand and value solitude. But they are referring to their hour-long walk around Piper’s Lagoon, carefully scheduled to fit between end of work and beginning of dinner prep. 

When they encounter a friend who is ecstatically and deliberately immersed in prolonged solitude, someone who is willfully declining engagement with the outer world in order to pursue a rich creative journey, they perceive it as sad and lonely. They worry about the person, label the person an introvert or depressed, ask the person if she is okay. They perceive the artist’s solitude as a disturbed and unhealthy state, an unnatural state. They conflate solitude with loneliness because they have not yet discovered or admitted to themselves that loneliness has nothing to do with being alone. It has to do with not having something you want, which is why you can be lonely in a marriage, at a party, in a crowded room. 

huge cedar treeMy prolonged solitude is never lonely because I have what I want in my life. And I am surrounded by, and in relationship with, all manner of strange and miraculous things, prompting new discoveries daily. 

In fact, it is people’s own fear of discovery that spurs them to view prolonged solitude negatively. It is their fear about what they would actually do with themselves and/or find out about themselves and their existence if they had no one but themselves and the non-human inhabitants of the planet to commune with for months or years at a time. It is their fear of what shape their innate creative energies might assume if unfettered long enough to coalesce. It is their fear of what they might encounter if they became a human being instead of a human doing. 

All of these fears are subliminal, not conscious, which makes them all the more powerful and binding. 

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Israeli Pilot Turned Peace Activist Coming to Vancouver Island

Yonatan Shapira, a former Israeli Air Force pilot who is now a highly respected peace activist, will be coming to Vancouver Island November 6 and 7 for a speaking tour. This is a rare opportunity to hear from someone who has undergone a profound personal transformation from militarism to peace activism as a result of what he has seen and been involved in.

Shapira’s Vancouver Island speaking tour is sponsored by Mid-islanders for Justice & Peace in the Middle East. All talks are open to the general public. Donations are appreciated.


Friday, Nov. 6th

Duncan: 10:30 am in Theatre 140 on VIU Campus (Duncan)

Nanaimo: 2:00 pm at St Andrew’s United Church

Courtenay: 7:00 pm at North Island College’s Stan Hagen Theatre

Saturday, Nov. 7th

Denman Island: 1:00 pm at Denman Island Community Hall

Nanaimo: 5:00 pm Potluck Supper at Pacific Gardens Co-Housing, 347 – 7th Street


(supplied by Mid-islanders for Justice & Peace in the Middle East)

Yonatan Shapira

Yonatan Shapira

Israeli-born Yonatan Shapira served for 12 years as a Blackhawk Helicopter pilot, flying hundreds of missions for the Israeli Air Force. He was one of 27 Israeli air force officers who denounced as war crimes the “targeted assassinations” carried out in the densely-populated Gaza Strip. The 27 were dismissed from the air force, and Shapira went on to co-found Combatants for Peace with other disillusioned Israeli and Palestinian ex-fighters.

He subsequently joined the Freedom Flotilla movement aimed at bringing world attention to the Egyptian/Israeli naval blockade of Gaza. He piloted the Jewish Boat to Gaza (2010), was a crew member of the US Boat to Gaza — The Audacity of Hope (2011), and sailed on the Estelle, along with former NDP MP Jim Manly of Nanaimo (the only Canadian on board), from Sweden in 2012.

Shapira is a member of the group supporting the Palestinian call for Boycott/Divestment/Sanctions (BDS) from within Israeli society (aka Boycott from Within) and has also taken part in numerous other non-violent actions and campaigns in opposition to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory.

He earned an MA in Peace and Conflict Studies and since 2010 has facilitated dialogue meetings for high school and university students at the School for Peace of the bi-national community of Wahat al-Salam – Neve Shalom (Oasis of Peace), inside the 1948 borders of Israel.

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Nanaimo Regional District Tries to Banish Writers

bee on tansyJust two days before our Sharing the Fire gathering of writers is scheduled to begin at Thistledown Farm B&B in Cedar, BC, bureaucrats from the Regional District of Nanaimo have threatened to shut it down. The event involves about a dozen writers and artists gathering for three days (August 28-30) to discuss creative approaches to ecological and societal problems. Five of us have been planning this event for a year. Some participants are travelling from as far away as Whitehorse, Toronto, and the United States to participate.

Regional District employees seem to think that a dozen writers getting together for a creative think-tank on private property is illegal. They have threatened to seek an injunction to bar the pre-registered guests from gathering this weekend at Thistledown Farm. What will these bureaucrats next decide is illegal? Dinner parties in one’s own home? 

The gathering will, of course, proceed. It is not illegal for writers to meet in Canada. Perhaps the RDN bureaucrats are thinking they exist in some other era or some other country. If the RDN bureacrats wish to dress up as jack-booted fascists and come kick the door down and haul away a dozen authors, perhaps they should wait until Halloween so we can give them some candy and send them on their way.

Kim Goldberg
August 26, 2015

The following media release was issued today by the owners of Thistledown Farm B&B, Laurie Gourlay and Jackie Moad:

For Immediate Release: August 26, 2015 

Writers & Artists Not Welcome, says Region 

‘Fahrenheit 451’ alive and well in the RDN 

CEDAR, BC – Threatening to seek an injunction, and to prevent future gatherings, lawyers for the Regional District of Nanaimo couriered Cedar farm owners today, giving them until 4pm to shutdown a planned writers and artisans retreat for this weekend.   

Just under the deadline the owners replied, denying they were breaching any rules, and questioning the RDN’s selective application of vague and dated by-laws to stop a dozen writers, poets and artisans from coming to Nanaimo. Since Monday RDN emails have repeatedly stated that rules against “public assembly” and camping on private property are sufficient reason to prevent the visiting writers from spending a quiet weekend on the farm – but the property owners don’t understand what the problem is. 

“If the RDN wants to claim North America’s ‘Fahrenheit 451’ reputation then this is the way to do it,” said Laurie Gourlay, one of the farm’s owners. “Chasing away writers, from across Canada and the US, who just want to get together to discuss literature and the arts? I don’t get it.” 

Thistledown Farm is a 20-acre working farm and registered B&B, with membership in the Ladysmith & Area Accommodations Association. The farm advertises through the Nanaimo Economic Development Commission’s Tourism Nanaimo brochure, and supports efforts by Tourism VI to build interest in the area as a destination for ‘super, natural BC’ vacations. 

“We like to share the property with people who care about nature and local agriculture,” says Jackie Moad, who divides her time between being an RN and being a farmer. “As well as running a B&B we volunteer with community groups, and we know how hard it is to get enough money for projects and planning. So we make the farm available for free to six non-profit groups and charities every year. This is the first time there’s ever been a problem.” 

The couple’s letter challenged the RDN over the refusal to allow a few of the writers to camp on their farm, noting the contradiction with approval previously given “by the RDN for camping on private property for a UN student workshop in the past. The RDN appears to be insisting that past precedence should be ignored.” 

Moad and Gourlay have also taken issue with the RDN’s use of the rule against “public assembly” to try and stop the writer’s gathering, suggesting “that a dinner party, or meeting of a community group, could just as well be subject to the rather intolerant interpretation you have applied to the upcoming weekend gathering of writers that we expect to host.” 

The couple end their letter by noting that the RDN has acted “in a demanding and insensitive manner – without attempting to first gain a full understanding of the circumstances. It is apparent that there has been little consideration for the writers who are coming, or the repercussions to the economy and Nanaimo’s reputation.” 

Moad and Gourlay state they are prepared to discuss the matter further, or to challenge the RDN’s assertions in Court if necessary. But, they would prefer an amicable resolution that’s fair to one and all. “Respect and due process is a right in a democracy,” says Gourlay. “We won’t be burning any bridges or any books on the farm this weekend.” 


Jackie Moad and Laurie Gourlay

Phone: 250 722-7223

Thistledown Farm
2689 Cedar Road
Cedar BC, V9X 1K3

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Sharing the Fire – Uncivilisation Gathering on Vancouver Island Aug 2015

by Kim Goldberg May 14, 2015
When: August 28-30, 2015
Where: Thistledown Farm, 2869 Cedar Road, Nanaimo, BC V9X 1K3
What: A creative think-tank of writers and artists
Accommodation: Mostly tenting
Cost: $60 (US or Canadian funds) – includes basic food ($20 for Saturday only)
Registration: Make cheques payable to Sharon English and mail to: 706 Indian Road, Toronto, ON, M6P 2E3.
Join us this August at an organic farm and nature sanctuary on Vancouver Island near Nanaimo for “Sharing the Fire” – an Uncivilisation Gathering in the spirit of the Dark Mountain Project’s Uncivilisation Festivals held in the UK in recent years.

What is the Dark Mountain Project? “The Dark Mountain Project is a network of writers, artists and thinkers who have stopped believing the stories our civilisation tells itself. We see that the world is entering an age of ecological collapse, material contraction and social and political unravelling, and we want our cultural responses to reflect this reality rather than denying it. The Project grew out of a feeling that contemporary literature and art were failing to respond honestly or adequately to the scale of our entwined ecological, economic and social crises. We believe that writing and art have a crucial role to play in coming to terms with this reality, and in questioning the foundations of the world in which we find ourselves.” (

Owl blind in wooded nature sanctuary at Thistledown Farm, Nanaimo, BC

Owl blind in wooded nature sanctuary at Thistledown Farm, Nanaimo, BC

Our Uncivilisation Gathering on Vancouver Island will be a 3-day creative think-tank for 25 writers and artists who share this vision. The gathering will include workshops, storytelling, dream-sharing, discussion, shared meals, music, brainstorming, creative exploration, evening drumming around a fire and much communing with nature. There is even a full moon on Saturday night. 

Click here for the downloadable Program. As you can see, it is still very open because we hope the participants will help shape it. The weekend will be a collaborative, egalitarian venture.  More information about Thistledown Farm is here:

As far as we know, this is the first Uncivilisation Gathering to be held in North America. It is being organized by five Canadian authors involved in the Dark Mountain Project:
Patricia Robertson (Whitehorse, YT) Joanna Lilley (Whitehorse, YT) Sharon English (Toronto, ON) Kim Goldberg (Nanaimo, BC) Heidi Greco (Surrey, BC)


We'll circle up the chairs around a fire in the evening

We’ll circle up the chairs around a fire in the evening

Participation for the full weekend is limited to 25 people, available on a first come first served basis upon receipt of your $60 registration fee (Canadian or US dollars). Please make your cheque payable to Sharon English and mail it to: 706 Indian Road, Toronto, ON, M6P 2E3. Cost includes basic meals for the three days and a place to pitch your tent.

Single-Day Participation
Those wishing to come just for the full day’s program on Saturday may do so for $20 (basic meals included). Pre-registration is appreciated here too so we will know numbers. But it is not essential. You will not be turned away if you just show up on Saturday with $20 for the single day.

Accommodations & Amenities
While this is primarily a tenting weekend for most of us, there are a few bunks and couches available in outbuildings. And we will have access throughout the weekend to two fully equipped kitchens, four indoor toilets and two showers. Water and electricity are readily available. 

Shaggy Mane mushrooms at Thistledown Farm, Nanaimo, BC

Shaggy Mane mushrooms at Thistledown Farm, Nanaimo, BC

Your $60 registration fee will include BASIC food from Friday evening through Sunday morning: fruit, cereal, soups, cheese, bread, butter, jam, coffee, tea, juice, milk, cream, almond milk, plus salad greens and sandwich fixings. Everyone is advised to bring additional food, either for yourself or to share potluck style. 

It is a short drive to a supermarket, several cafés and a lovely British pub in the country with garden seating and indoor seating. So there are some other food options.

Getting Here

Ferries that carry vehicles sail from Vancouver to Nanaimo, and from Seattle to Victoria. (From Victoria, it is a 90-minute drive north to the farm.)
Kenmore Air has direct flights from Seattle to Nanaimo. We will do our best to get people who arrive in Nanaimo without a vehicle out to the farm.

Questions? Suggestions?
For questions or suggestions for the program, please contact:
Sharon English:
Patricia Robertson:

We hope you will join us this August for “Sharing the Fire”.

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POSTERS: Cascadia Poetry Festival 2015

We’ve got posters galore for the 3rd Cascadia Poetry Festival, coming up April 30-May 3, 2015, in Nanaimo, British Columbia. All-Access Gold Pass that gets you into everything (except the 2 workshops) is just $25! I know – crazy! Four days of fab poets, panels, readings and late-night spokenword events for just 25 bucks! It even includes free parking at VIU.

You can purchase your Gold Pass online or at Iron Oxide Art Supplies in downtown Nanaimo. Full schedule is here

Here are the posters. See you there! 

The Festival:

Cascadia Poetry Festival 2015

The Marmot Bout Spokenword Slam:

Marmot Bout

Workshop with Missie Peters & Anastacia Tolbert:


Workshop with Brenda Hillman, Barry McKinnon, George Stanley:


The Living Room – a daily opportunity to share your own poetry with an audience: 


The After Party (more than 30 poets reading!):

theafterpartyposter (smaller)

Closing Celebration Readings:



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