Undetectable - Nanaimo Book Launch
Saturday, February 27th, 2016
1:00 PM to 3:00 PM
Join award-winning poet Kim Goldberg for the launch of her latest book, Undetectable, about her recent treatment and cure from Hepatitis C. Kim lived with the liver-damaging virus for 45 years, telling no one. When the cure finally arrived, it gave her the poem of a lifetime. That poem has now become her seventh book.
In it, she documents her Hepatitis C journey using a Japanese literary style called haibun, a travel diary paired with haiku poetry. Kim was cured last year after participating in a clinical trial of the new Hepatitis C drug, Harvoni. “I was extremely lucky to get a seat in this trial,” she 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 adds.
Harvoni, developed by Gilead Sciences Inc., has a wholesale price of $1,125 (US) per pill. In most cases, including Kim’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. Kim 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.
“This is a much stigmatized illness,” says Kim. “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.
Kim drew her inspiration for Undetectable from Matsuo Basho’s 17th century book, Narrow Road to the Interior, considered to be the first example of haibun. Basho’s foot journey took him to the rugged interior of his country as well as the esoteric interior of himself. Kim followed in Basho’s footsteps (figuratively speaking) as she wandered Nanaimo’s streets, forests, rocky beaches and dark colonial history during her 84 days of treatment. All the while, she found herself meditating on the many meanings of undetectable: the virus being driven from her 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, and more. “This book is about much more than Hepatitis C,” says Kim. "But it's all connected. During my 12 weeks of treatment and wandering, I came to see virus as a metaphor for many things, from colonialism to our own species’ destruction of the host planet we are living on.”
Kim 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.
Copies of Undetectable are $19 each and will be available for sale and signing at the launch.
Arts | Entertainment
Literature | Poetry
Talks | Lectures
Health & Wellness
Nanaimo Harbourfront (Downtown) Library
90 Commercial Street, Nanaimo
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