An American TikToker has skyrocketed sales of an obscure Canadian poetry collection, after having a dream that led her to regain the title.
TikToker Ohmarni, real name Marni Webb, posted a video on Dec. 31 about a “rare book I dreamed about.” In his dream, Webb, who claims to be a psychic, was asked by a man “is the fifth window open?” Googling this led her to Canadian poet Russell Thornton’s collection The Fifth Window, published in 2000 – but it was hard to obtain and only available on request from university libraries.
“Now explain to me, why does a book about the psychic world and the real world meet in the reservations/requests section, like super locked up? It’s weird, it’s suspicious,” she said in her video, which has now been viewed more than 3 million times.
Thornton discovered his unexpected viral fame when he received an email from Vancouver poet Rob Taylor. “I’m not on TikTok, I heard the words, but I had no idea what it was,” Thornton told CBC. “My 13-year-old daughter was at home and I said, ‘Do you know anything about TikTok?'”
Thornton sent Webb one of her two remaining copies from the collection – and she later posted more Tiktok videos to the title, saying she had dreamed of two of Thornton’s poems in the book 10 years ago years. “These divine coincidences are crazy,” she said in a video that has been viewed tens of thousands of times.
Orders have since poured in from the Thornton publisher, and independent Saskatoon-based publisher Thistledown Press has now commissioned a reprint of the title, which is inspired by the landscape of Vancouver and the British Columbia coast. to create “an ecstatic vision in which the psyche and the nature world meet and become one”.
“With 3.2 million views, the video inspired thousands to search for the book and ultimately find Thistledown Press,” the publisher said. “The response has been huge, with orders coming in not only from across Canada, but also from 33 US states and countries as far apart as Ireland, Norway, Australia, Germany, Bulgaria and Bermuda . Not bad for a book of poetry published by an independent Saskatoon publisher.
Thornton told CBC that at first he thought the situation was a prank, and “then I just thought it was comical. I thought it was funny as hell,” he said. “It’s so hard to get attention for a book of poetry in Canada. So I was pleasantly surprised and delighted that this will perhaps draw attention to this book.
Thornton, who lives in North Vancouver, is also the author of The Hundred Lives collection, shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize, and most recently the Answer to Blue collection – an answer to DH Lawrence’s question, “Oh, what can answer this bruise?