Stephen Jenkinson.  Photo by Mark Tucker

Erin Molitor sometimes feels like she’s evangelizing when she talks to friends about Stephen Jenkinson. He’s a Canadian storyteller, musician and author, whose specialty is teaching people to die well.

“It’s one of those things, if people know Stephen’s work or have seen him before, it’s easy to say, ‘You have to go to this show’ in a way that sounds a bit intense to other people. But once you’ve been there and experienced him, you have to want everybody to know that experience, too,” said Molitor, a Portland artist and admirer of Jenkinson’s work. “I think of it as a love letter to being alive and everything that involves, including the end of that life.”

Molitor was instrumental in bringing Jenkinson’s “Nights of Grief and Mystery” tour to Portland at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Maine Irish Heritage Center in Portland.

He presents storytelling, vignettes from his writing and music with Canadian musician Gregory Hoskins and a supporting band. The stories and writings are based on Jenkinson’s many years of work as director of children’s grief and palliative care at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, and the work he does on stage is informed by spending time with dying people. He sometimes diverges from his stories about death to talk about larger cultural issues, like fentanyl addiction.

He got master’s degrees in theology from Harvard and social work from the University of Toronto. He’s written several books, including “Die Wise: A Manifesto for Sanity and Soul,” published in 2015. He teaches across the world and is the principal instructor at the Orphan Wisdom School in Ontario, which he founded in 2010. He teaches what he calls “deep living.”

Jenkinson has been touring nearly 20 years, and has described his performance as poetic but not poetry. It’s musical, motivational and often funny. At times Hoskins’ music provides an accompaniment to Jenkinson and his stories. Other times the music is equal to the stories, and sometimes the stories stop and the music takes over with full-on band and vocals. Hoskins has a 20-year career as a singer-songwriter. The band includes a bassist, drummer and keyboard player, and a two-women choir.

Jenkinson is an old sage, who looks like a bit of wrangler with chiseled face, long hair and beard. He speaks with a soft voice, informed by years of listening to people talk about their grief.

“We’re born to a dangerous time,” he said in a video promoting this tour. “Consider that affliction, or consider that assignment. Friends are forged on a dark road heading out of town. We’re headed there now.”

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