IFOA and Exile Editions invite you to the release of The Life Crimes and Hard Times of Ricky Atkinson, Leader of the Dirty Tricks Gang by Richard Atkinson with Joe Fiorito, as part of the Toronto Lit Up book launch series.
“A sober memoir that provides a solid understanding of how crime is situated in structural, cultural, historical, and situational contexts.This is the life story of Ricky Atkinson, leader of the Dirty Tricks Gang, who grew up fast and hard in one of Toronto’s toughest neighbourhoods during the social ferment of the Sixties, during the fledgling Black Power Movement in Canada. His life was made all the more difficult coming from a black, white and aboriginal mixed family. Under his leadership, the gang eventually robbed more banks and pulled off so many jobs, that it is unrivalled in Canadian history…Today, after reconciling his past and life, he works to educate youth and people from all backgrounds about the no-win choice of being a criminal.”
Toronto Lit Up is a three year initiative, spearheaded by the Toronto Arts Council and IFOA, designed to spotlight Toronto’s writers and empower local artists with career-building opportunities.
Ricky Atkinson is 62. He has spent 32 years of his life in prison cells across Canada. His mother settled in Sudbury, Ontario, by way of Ukraine and his father's family has roots in Nova Scotia's community of black Métis. Mr. Atkinson grew up in Toronto's Alexandra Park neighbourhood and for decades, he was the leader of Toronto's Dirty Tricks gang. Today, he teaches boxing and spins pottery during sessions with children in Alexandra Park as he tries to push them away from crime. He's just released a new book, his memoir, The Life Crimes and Hard Times of Ricky Atkinson, Leader of the Dirty Tricks Gang.
Joe Fiorito is a journalist who has worked as a city columnist for the Montreal Gazette, The Globe & Mail, The National Postand the Toronto Star newspapers. He won the National Newspaper Award for Columns in 1995; the Brassani Prize for Short Fiction in 2000; and the City of Toronto Book Award in 2003. He is the author of eight books: Comfort Me with Apples (collection of columns); Tango on the Main (collection of columns); The Closer We Are To Dying (memoir); The Song Beneath the Ice (novel); Union Station (non-fiction); Rust Is a Form of Fire (non-fiction); and, as co-author, The Life Crimes and Hard Times of Ricky Atkinson, Leader of the Dirty Tricks Gang. His most recent book, "City Poems”, was published in 2018. He is married, lives in Toronto and is currently at work on his second collection of poetry.