Author Spotlights

Volume XXI  Cece chats with Rik Emmett, author of REINVENTION: Poems

Photo credit: Stuart Hendrie

He’s funny, wry, self-deprecating, multi-talented, and a dedicated family man.  Most especially a family man.

“I have a restlessness in my creative spirit that leads me to do and try different things.”

He’s funny, wry, self-deprecating, multi-talented, and a dedicated family man.  Most especially a family man.

Just who is Rik Emmett, the newly minted author whose book, REINVENTION: POEMS comes out today?

Well, some of you might remember him as the lead guitarist for Triumph, the multi-platinum, multi-gold selling rock band popular in the late 1970s and 1980s. Some of their most well-known songs such as Hold On, Lay It On The Line, Spellbound, and Fight The Good Fight, remain sing-out-loud-anthems to rock and roll diehards.

 “People know me as a musician, singer-songwriter and guitar player,” Emmett says.  “But for me, it’s more like being a renaissance man, and I don’t mean that in a self-aggrandizement way. I’m more like a jack of all trades, master of none. I’ve dabbled in a lot of different things in my life and the bottom line is, I don’t like to stay locked in for too long. Even when I was on the great roller coaster ride of being a rock star in Triumph, I knew when it was time to get out, there were other things I wanted to do.”

Bassist Mike Levine, drummer and vocalist, Gil Moore, and Emmett went from playing in down-at-the-heels bars in scuzzy neighbourhoods to playing regular dates at Maple Leaf Gardens between 1978 and 1987.

Triumph Rik Emmett resizedRik Emmett in his Triumph days

“I’m not one of those rock stars who drank too much or abused drugs. I’m a fairly simple straightforward guy with a conscientious work ethic.  So yeah, I’m kind of boring,” Emmett says with a laugh.


After leaving Triumph, Emmett went out on his own, producing 20 albums that ranged in musical genres, from blues, to jazz, folk and classical. He was a columnist for Guitar Magazine for over a dozen years, as well as a music educator at Humber College for several decades. He’s in three Canadian Halls of Fame and has a star on two Walks of Fame, including the Canadian Walk of Fame. He’s also earned ‘Best Guitarist’ awards in various style categories.

“I have a restlessness in my creative spirit that leads me to try different things,” Emmett says. “And whatever I do usually loops back to my music. Even in the writing of this poetry book, when I did the audio book, I recorded some guitar interludes to transition from one chapter to another. And there’s two poems that aren’t really poems, they are lyrics; I wrote music for them and recorded them for the audiobook. So it’s not like I left everything else behind to take on this new adventure in a completely isolated kind of way. I didn’t. One thing overlaps into another and an integration occurs.”

The poetry book that Emmett is referring to is his just released, (September 14) book, Reinvention: Poems inspired by two authors, Canadian Adam Sol, How A Poem Moves and Yale professor, Stephanie Bird, The Poem Is You.

“I found both of these books insightful and interesting. They inspired me in the sense that it was almost like they gave me license to write poetry. There is a form of modern poetry called ultra-talk, which really set me off. It feels like a conversation is being had. It isn’t a lot of veiled, elliptical writing, but rather a clear communication of easy ideas instead of complex ones.

Interesting, Emmett compares the process of writing poetry to that of distilling whiskey. “By the time you get to a really great glass of whiskey you don’t necessarily have an understanding of the fields of grain that it came from,” Emmett says. “And I think poetry often does that, whereby by the time you get to what in effect is a compressed diamond, you forget that there’s mountains and mountains of slag that came beforehand.”

The ‘R’ (retire) word is not in Emmett’s vocabulary, in fact, it would be next to impossible for him to ever consider backing away from the creative process. This preeminent guitarist and all-round tour de force is wired into a creative sound box, one that is amped up by playing guitar, writing and going flat out creatively. And while he was excited to turn his direction away from the structured discipline of writing lyrics, Emmett was also a little apprehensive about calling himself a poet.

“The scary part of it is, when you decide you’re going to call yourself a poet, you’re stepping into a world where it’s kind of ruled by academic thinking, and I’m far, far removed from that,” Emmett says with a laugh. “It’s not like I have a PhD in English studies. I am like Linus with his security blanket, only my security blanket is my guitar.  It’s like a public mask in a way, it’s my identity. So then when it’s just a pen and a piece of paper, it’s kind of like whoa, this is a little more frightening. But at a certain point, I think the creative spirit and the sense of being an artist, motivates you to just go for it, damn the torpedoes. Let’s just do this.”

There are varied sections in REINVENTION where Emmett shares his thoughts and emotions around some of the most intimate events in a person’s life – the death of a loved one. One of these poems is called Loss, Grief, Ritual, a showcase that shares Emmett’s experiences around what happens when a loved one dies, what the process of grief feels like, and the rituals around figuring out how to rekindle and recapture a sense of hope.

Emmett writes about his brother, Russell, who died in 2007 at 49 years of age. He talks about his dad getting sick, getting old and dying. There are several autobiographical details in the book which Emmett does not consider surprising. What he is a little astounded about is his willingness to be honest in such a public way, that he was ‘willing to get that naked and walk out on the high wire and say, “Have a look, everybody. This is what it’s like deep inside me.”

One of the poems, (and there are many) that I absolutely enjoyed is, These Be The Attitudes, a wry nod to the more religious tome, The Seven Beatitudes.

“I was the president of my Bible class when I was 11 or 12 years old. There’s a lot of religion that is deeply embedded in me, a lot of things etched in my memory bank that   I can’t get rid of,” Emmett says. “The Beatitudes, the poems, the readings from the Book of Common Prayer, those types of things. And when I was writing REINVENTION, we were in the age of Trump. That was as horrifying as horrifying can get for me, that the head of state is someone who was so incredibly egotistical, vile, and rude. It’s toxic; it poisons society at large when power is so corrupt and so full of vice. Those are the things that get me angry. And so when I wrote These Be The Attitudes, that’s me just taking them on. It’s only words on paper, but I’m saying, this is the truth and I think we should face that truth, and then from there figure out how to fight the good fight.”

Creativity is multi-layered for Emmett, who along with his music, song writing and poetry, is also a cartoonist. He drew cartoons for his high school paper and when he was in Triumph, the band’s publicist was able to get him published in Hit Parader Magazine out of New York.

“I am finding that as I get older my hand is not as steady as it used to be,” Emmett says with a slight shrug. “But I have a photo of Norman Rockwell standing at an easel and he is using a long bar to rest his hand on – it is basically helping him steady his arm. I told a friend of mine who was worried about using pencil sketches to get started with her drawings, “Oh, honey, there’s no such thing as cheating. Anything you can do to make it happen, go ahead, do it.”

While he acknowledges that there are several women in his life who have been a valued part of his creative process in getting REINVENTION to market, it is his wife Jeannette whom Emmett gives the most credit to.

“Without her intelligence over the years I would have been a pretty thin, hollow useless thing. So I would say my collaboration with her is the one that matters the most,” Emmett says, in a way that most wives would kill to hear their husbands say about them.  

After savouring the many and diverse poems in Reinvention, a body of work that truly feels like a personal conversation between two friends, I for one, am mighty glad that Emmett is sticking to the message he laid out in one of Triumph’s greatest songs – in fact, one of rock’s greatest all-time rock’ n’ roll anthems, Follow Your Heart.  

“I am never going to retire from being creative,” Emmett says, a smile spreading across his face.


Jillian Horton, M.D., whose novel, We Are All Perfectly Fine: A Memoir of Love, Medicine and Healing will be Creative Aging Books & Ideas Virtual Book Club Author on Monday, September 27 at 2 p.m. with host Jen Tindall and Cece Scott.   Register for the event here.

An in-depth accounting of what it takes to both become and then be a doctor, Jillian’s book is an intertwined canvas of both personal and patient stories. Woven throughout those accountings Jillian’s attitude, toughness, resilience and self-deprecating humour, not to mention her empathic and human overall dedication to her craft, makes for a read that is both intriguing and captivating.

Read Cece’s review of We Are All Perfectly Fine here: Book Reviews – NO. 12: We Are All Perfectly Fine, by Jillian Horton


Cece is the feature cover writer for several prestigious publications and is an informed, connected and enthusiastic book blogger at  Her first book, The Love Story, was published in 2019. Her second book will be coming out in the spring of 2021.

cece and trophy 300px

Cece is also working on a book of Daily Reflections for Auto Immune Condition Warriors.

Not a subscriber? Sign up now to get access to Cece’s interviews with popular, adventurous, intriguing, fun, famous, authors…not to mention great book-themed gift ideas.

Follow Cece at    pintrest logo 40px       instagram logo 40px       facebook 40px           blue email box circle png 50px Email Cece

Cece’s social media solutions provided by Digital Dijana, (Dijana Maderic) Connect with Dijana for your social media solutions @

Cece is now an independent contributor for writing about the NBA. 

Get your Raptors Rapture here   Thursday is go time for the Toronto Raptors as they push for the playoffs (