An American TikToker has sent sales of an obscure Canadian poetry collection soaring, after she had a dream that led her to track down the title.
TikToker Ohmarni, whose real name is Marni Webb, posted a video about a “rare book that I dreamt about” on 31 December. In her dream Webb, who claims to be 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 get hold of, and only available when requested from university libraries.
“Now explain to me, why is a book about the psychic world and the real world meeting in the reserves/request section, like super locked up tight? That’s weird, that’s suspicious,” she said in her video, which has now been viewed more than 3m times.
Thornton found out about his unexpected viral fame when he was emailed by Vancouver poet Rob Taylor. “I’m not on TikTok, I’ve heard the words, but I had no idea what it was all about,” Thornton told CBC. “My 13-year-old daughter was home and I said: ‘Do you know anything about TikTok?’”
Thornton sent Webb one of his two remaining copies of the collection – and she went on to post further Tiktok videos about the title, saying that she had dreamed about two of Thornton’s poems in the book 10 years ago. “These divine coincidences are wild,” she said, in a video that has been viewed tens of thousands of times.
Orders have since flooded in to Thornton’s publisher, and the independent Saskatoon-based Thistledown Press has now ordered a reprint of the title, which draws from the landscape of Vancouver and the British Columbia coast to create “an ecstatic vision in which the psyche and natural world meet and become one”.
“At 3.2m views, the video has inspired thousands to search for the book and eventually find Thistledown Press,” said the publisher. “The response has been huge, with orders coming in not only from across Canada but from 33 US states and countries as far away as Ireland, Norway, Australia, Germany, Bulgaria and Bermuda. Not bad for a poetry book published by an indie 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 any attention for any book of poetry in Canada. So I was kind of pleasantly surprised and pleased by the fact that maybe this will get some attention on that book.”
Thornton, who lives in North Vancouver, is also the author of the Griffin Poetry prize-shortlisted collection The Hundred Lives, and most recently the collection Answer to Blue – a response to DH Lawrence’s question, “Oh what in you can answer to this blueness?”