Kirsteen and sister, Cat Main_small

As Kirsteen says in her artist statement for her upcoming book, Dear Butterfly, 50 Poems by Kirsteen Main, “Because of my cerebral palsy I am not able to walk or talk, but my mind works quite well thank you.”

When she was eight years old, Kirsteen was given a way to communicate what was in that mind – her thoughts, ideas, opinions and eventually her poems. ‘Facilitated communication’ works to give people who can’t communicate in the traditional sense a chance to speak and be understood. Someone holds her arms while she points to letters on an alphabet board, spelling out what she wants to say. She tells us that she creates the poems in her head where they are stored in a “poetry file” until she can be assisted to express them. Kirsteen has been ‘writing’ poetry since the age of twelve (she is now thirty-four) and she says, “Many but not all of my poems speak to my experience of living with a disability – as well as expressing what I need to say to the world.” And she has plenty to say!

Kirsteen has also enjoyed painting in recent years, and many of her paintings accompany the poems in Dear Butterfly. This activity is also facilitated as people help her to use her hands, fingers, brushes and sponges to create her pictures, mostly in acrylic. She says this is a lot of fun and more relaxing than writing poetry.

To read more poems by Kirsteen, visit her blog at

Kirsteen’s book, Dear Butterfly: 50 Poems, will be out next month. It will be available through our online store or by contacting the PLAN office at 604-439-9566.


Here I sit
in this healing place
wanting to speak
wanting to hear
my tongue tied in
impatient knots
my breath held.
Silence the little boy in you
the little girl in me
come to regret
our immaturity
the many silent glances
in and out
and in I go to read
your stoic lips.
The bird sings sweetly
on the windowsill
it whispers a secret
into my ear
Can you hear it?
Can you be? 

– Kirsteen Main