Mike Barnes is the author of ten books of poetry, short fiction, novels, and memoir.
His poems have appeared in numerous anthologies, and his stories have appeared twice in Best Canadian Stories and three times in The Journey Prize Anthology. His story “Scribe” won the National Magazine Award Silver Medal. His collection of poems, Calm Jazz Sea (Brick Books, 1996), was shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award; and Aquarium (Porcupine’s Quill, 2002), his first collection of stories, won the Danuta Gleed Award.
Mike has also published many essays, one of which, the photo-text collage “Asylum Walk,” won the Edna Staebler Award. His neo-noir novel The Adjustment League (Biblioasis, 2016) was the subject of a feature article in Maclean’s magazine and named one of the year’s Ten Best Books. He works as a private English tutor and lives in Toronto.
His latest publication, Be With: Letters to a Carer was published by Myriad in February 2019.
Interviews and Features
Be With on Bookish Beck
‘Dementia is one situation in which you should definitely throw money at a problem, Barnes counsels, to secure the best care you can, even round-the-clock nursing help. However, as the title suggests, nothing outweighs simply being there. Your presence, not chiefly to make decisions, but just to sit, listen and place a soothing hand on a forehead, is the greatest gift.’
‘By your loved one’s side is “Not where things are easy, or satisfactorily achieved, or achievable, or even necessarily pleasant. But where you ought to be, have to be, and are. It brings a peace.”’
Read the full review on the Bookish Beck blog.
DEAR CARERS: Hard-won wisdom to those embarking on the task of caring for a loved one
‘I’m sending you the news I needed to hear myself. Needed and still need often, ransacking confusions to find a clear way forward. I have moved my mother Mary four times in seven years. These moves, I see now, map out the progressive stages of Alzheimer’s. But the stages are never neat, they are taking place in a person, with all her quirks and qualities, and different parts of the brain will be affected to different degrees.’
You Magazine ran an extract from Be With, which you can read online if you weren’t able to pick up a hard copy.
Mike Barnes on The Morning Show
Mike Barnes was invited onto Global News to discuss Be With with The Morning Show team during Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. Watch the full five minute interview here.
In meeting a fellow caregiver, author Mike Barnes found a hero without her cape
‘Now, my heroes are less likely to perform the blatant prodigies of Baun-Bligh-Duc and more likely to manifest the quiet radiance of a skinny, white-haired woman I will call Joan. Joan is in her early 70s. Apart from her dark-framed glasses, she has no features that would make her stand out in a crowd – which is just as well, as she is, and would no doubt like to remain, a hero in hiding.’
A wonderful article by Mike Barnes in The Globe and Mail. Read in full here.