LITERARY LOCATION: 131 Water Street, Gaslight Square

At age 24, Mona Fertig established her first Literary Storefront operation at this location, in a vacant upstairs dress shop, suite #213. Her concept of a communal meeting place for literati was inspired by Sylvia Beach's Shakespeare & Co. bookstore in Paris during the 1920s. Two hundred people attended the opening on May 13, 1978. In March of 1980, the literary storefront moved to its second location, nearby, upstairs at #1-314 West Cordova. There were more than 600 literary readings and events during the four years of Fertig's directorship. In 1982 she transferred management to four committees and her board of directors in order to move to Montreal. Wayne Holder and Tom Ilves (later the president of Estonia) took over the reins but the Literary Storefront Society was dissolved in January of 1985. In 1990, Fertig moved to Saltspring Island, with her husband Peter Haase and their children, where she and Haase started (m)thr Tgu Press, a private literary press later renamed Mother Tongue Publishing.

ENTRY: Mona Fertig was born in Vancouver on February 14, 1954 and grew up in Kitsilano. She attended the Vancouver School of Art and was the Education & Special Events Co-ordinator for the Surrey Art Gallery. In 1978, at age 23, she opened the Literary Storefront in Gastown, Vancouver. Its literary salon concept was inspired by Sylvia Beach's Shakespeare & Co. bookstore in Paris during the 1920s. The Gastown facility hosted readings and housed the first B.C. office of the Writers' Union of Canada (1978-1982).

Since 1990, when Fertig moved to Saltspring Island with her husband Peter Haase, and their children Sophia and Paris, the couple has operated (m)thr Tgu Press, a private literary press. Haase is a letterpress printer and electrician. The couple met in 1975 after Haase had played and sung at the Kings Head Pub in Kitsilano. "Four of us took off to the Spinning Wheel on the night of March 15th, 1975," he recalls. "I parked my old Chevy Caprice in the back alley, went in to see Doc Fingers play blues piano, and discovered my car had been towed. I took the bus to catch up with friends and met Mona, the love of my life, on the Granville Street bus at 2 a.m. The rest is history."

Mona Fertig has published seven books and five chapbooks of her own, and given readings from Vancouver to Newfoundland; from New York to San Francisco. She has been a bookseller, founding member of the B.C. Federation of Writers, a member of the Femininist Caucus-League of Canadian Poets, a B.C. Book Prize Committee member, B.C./Yukon Rep for the Writers' Union of Canada and B.C. representative for P.E.N. Canada.

Described by Fertig as the first major anthology on the birth process in Canada, her A Labour of Love: An Illustrated Anthology of Poetry on Pregnancy and Childbirth was inspired by Judy Chicago's 'A Birth Project' exhibit. The premise of the book was condensed in a quotation from the imagist poet H.D., "The brain and the womb are both centres of consciousness, equally important."

Her long and deeply felt poem that encapsulates her impressions of life on Saltspring Island, entitled This is Paradise (2005), doubles as a lament and a celebration.

The Unsettled, from Kalamalka Press in Vernon, was Mona Fertig's first full-length book of new poetry in twelve years. It is No.7 in the Mackie Lecture and Reading Series published by writers-in-residence at the Mackie Lake House every fall in Vernon. Mona Fertig was writer-in-residence at Mackie House and worked on the manuscript while she was there. The Unsettled is the metaphor for poems of homelessness, uncertainty, development, politics, relationships, wilderness, and the spiritworld.

Mona Fertig welcomes stories and photos from anyone who remembers her Literary Storefront days. Write to Mother Tongues Press (aka (m)thr Tgu Press) on Saltspring Island.

As part of her initiative to transform her (m)thr Tgu Press to Mother Tongue Publishing, Fertig organized an art auction at Tony Westbridge Art Gallery in April of 2008 to support her new publishing program. Approximately 30 people attended. Proceeds were allocated to subsidizing publication of David Franklin Marshall by Monika Ullmann, the first book in a projected series about overlooked B.C. artists, due in December 2008. "We sold 24 of the 40 pieces and made approximately $8,000," she wrote. "Four of the pieces sold on-line, two had competitive bids and the rest sold at the live auction at the Westbridge Fine Art Gallery. David Franklin Marshall's bronze sculpture donated by George and Mary Ann Drake of Bellingham fetched a good price and there was some exciting live bidding between two interested parties. Unfortunately David's beautiful Cahoba wood sculpture on a chocolate slate base did not sell." Financial supporters of this auction were BRIAN & VISI BATSFORD, UNITY BAINBRIDGE, ENDA BARDELL, ROBERT BATEMAN, WIM BLOM, THE CARUSO GANG, DIANA DEAN, PAUL WOLF, TINA DICKEY, PNINA GRANIRER, INGEBORG, DIMITRI & MARYA HARDMAN, P.K PAGE, LYNDA & GABRIELLE JENSEN, PETER HAASE,ANNI KNOOP, CHARLES MAYRS, SUSAN MCGILLIVRAY, FRANK MOLNAR, CAREL MARSHALL, VINCE OCHS, ERIC OCHS, WESTBRIDGE FINE ART GALLERY, PARVANEH ROUDGAR, GARY SIM, GREGG SIMPSON, SHERYL R. SMITH, IAN & CLAIRE SIGVALDASON, PHYLLIS WEBB, CARMEN ARGUELLES-LASLEY and ALAN HAWTHORNE.

With Harold Rhenisch, Mona Fertig co-edited a landmark collection of B.C. poets, Rocksalt. She was the sole editor of The Summer Book: A Treasury of Warm Tales, Timeless Memories and Meditations on Nature by 24 BC writers. [REVIEW BELOW]

Review of the author's work by BC Studies:
Rocksalt: An Anthology of Contemporary BC Poetry


The Summer Book: A Treasury of Warm Tales, Timeless Memories and Meditations on Nature by 24 BC writers. by Mona Fertig (editor) (Mother Tongue Publishing, 2017) $24.95 / 978-1-896949-61-1

The Unsettled (Kalamalka Press, 2010). Poetry. No.6 in the Mackie Lecture and Reading Series.

Rocksalt (Mother Tongue 2008). Edited by Mona Fertig and Harold Rhenisch. $24.95

Invoking the Moon, Selected Poems 1975-1989 - Black Moss Press, 2006). $15. 0-88753-429-5.

This is Paradise - (m)thr Tgu Press, 2005

Sex, Death & Travel - Oolichan Books 1998

Mango Woman - (m)thr Tgu Press, 1996

A Labour of Love (Editor) - Polestar 1986

4722 Rue Berri - Caitlin Press 1986

Releasing The Spirit - Colophon Books 1982

Mouth For Music - Caitlin Press 1979

Seasons That I Am - Intermedia Press 1975

[BCBW 2017] "Poetry" "Women"