About

Welcome fellow traveller.

My field is nonfiction–releasing powerful, disruptive stories that can heal, or effect real change.

I collaborate with artists, activists and adventuresome scholars, and with emerging writers ready to commit to truth-telling and community restoration.

I hail from the Great Lakes region of Ontario–the traditional territory of the Saugeen Nation, on Lake Huron’s eastern shoreline. My roots are settler roots. I hail from immigrants who risked trading the familiar for the new.

I now live in Six Nation’s territory, otherwise known as Canada’s tech hub of Kitchener-Waterloo.

Past haunts include New England, the South, the Southern Rockies and New Mexico’s high desert country. I have lived in various cities, including Montreal, Toronto, Boulder, Colorado, Santa Fe and the great steeltowns of Hamilton, Ontario and Pittsburgh.

Wherever I go, I am at home.

You can find my essays, stories and essays in various print and online publications. Books authored or edited include:

Body & Soul: Stories for Skeptics & Seekers, (Caitlin Press 2019) Women writers and poets, on unorthodox approaches to the sacred. With a Foreword by Alison Pick.

Sainted Dirt: Reckoning with Land, Language, Family and Imperfect Teaware. A family memoir in linked stories. Manuscript under review.

Temple in a Teapot (West Meadow/Harland Press, 2010). Limited edition chapbook launched on a 1,000-mile road trip, reading at college campuses throughout the American West.

Stories in my Neighbour’s Faith: Narratives from World Religions in Canada (United Church of Canada, 1999). Engaging faith leaders and visionary storytellers, sea to sea to sea.

In support of Sainted Dirt, I gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Region of Waterloo Arts Fund.

A passion for creative community colours my publishing and teaching in communities and classrooms, including at St. Jerome’s University College, Renison University College and Wilfrid Laurier University.

I am the nonfiction editor of The New Quarterly  (TNQ) and I direct all TNQ retreats. I am a member of Native Immigrant arts collective and the Canadian Nonfiction Collective Society (CNFC).

In 2019 I stepped up to the board of the Region of Waterloo Arts Fund

Join me in 2019:

January 28 @ the fall + winter/2018/19 issue launch of the Humber Literary Review, reading “Sign Language” in Toronto. So honoured to be in this issue thanks to the mag’s gifted editor, Eufemia Fantetti.

March 10 @ The Growing Room Festival, Vancouver, launching Body & Soul with contributors Sharon Bala, Dora Dueck, Meharoona Ghani, and Amanda Leduc. Many thanks to contributor Lori McNulty for her incomparable drive and insight. And thanks to Holly at Caitlin Press for hand-delivering all those gorgeous books!

March 14 @ The Vancouver Public Library, launching Body & Soul. A standing-room only crowd welcomes panelists Dora Dueck, Meharoona Ghani, Pamela Johnson, Jonina Kirton and Betsy Warland. Moderated by yours truly.  

April 26-28 @ Lake Junalusca Retreat Center, North Carolina. Keynote speaker, with my daughter, film director Cailleah Scott-Grimes, at the Body, Mind & Spirit Women’s Retreat. What an honour, to meet this amazing group of women who are enlivening the South.

May 3-8 @ Write on the French River Creative Writing Retreat with Helen Humphreys, Alison Pick, Andrew Westoll; also, my colleague, fellow TNQ editor Pamela Mulloy, and retreat founder, Nicola Ross. Six days of creative foment at the stunning Lodge at Pine Cove in Ontario’s northland. 

April 12 @ the Toronto launch of Body & Soul with 13 contributors, from Montreal to Manitoulin Island, including Jagtar Kaur Atwal, Eufemia Fantetti, Sheniz Janmohamed, Tamara Jong, Amanda Leduc, Christine Pountney, and more. Special thanks to Queen Books for a fantastic evening of non-stop book selling!

August 9 @ RWAF board retreat, University of Waterloo.

August 23, adjudicating TNQ’s annual Edna Staebler Personal Essay Contest with consulting editors Lamees Al Ethari and Emily Urquhart, and my colleague, TNQ’s editor, Pamela Mulloy. Winner Sarah Ens and runner-up Laura Rock Gaughan will appear in TNQ 152 (Fall 2019).

September 25 – 29 @ Kingston Writers Fest! September 26 is Skeptics and Seekers, a conversation with the dynamic Ann Bokma, author of My Year of Living Spiritually, moderated by Body & Soul contributor, Lindy Mechefske. Join me at my September 27 editing masterclass, as part of the KWF’s renowned Writers Retreat.

October 15 – 29 a New Mexico writing retreat for my next book, Blood, Sand, Bread: A Saugeen Primer. Getting grounded in high desert country while I try to find an honest, down-to-earth approach to recovering Indigenous and settler stories about living on the land. 

November 1st – 3rd @ the Wild Writers Literary Festival in Kitchener-Waterloo. I’ll be moderating the annual publishing panel and a celebratory panel on Body & Soul, with contributors Carolina Echeverria, Sheniz Janmohamed, Amanda Leduc and Heidi Reimer. Quite a history: the collection sprang from a 2015 panel I hosted on spiritual memoir, with Eve Joseph, K.D. Miller and Christine Pountney. For the full festival lineup, visit https://wildwriters.ca/2019-writers/.

November 17 @ Guelph Dance Studio. The Passionate Heart Dance Writing Workshop. Open to writers at all levels. A glorious collaboration with senior dance artists Suzette Sherman and Michele Green, co-creators, with dance icon David Earle, of Passionate Heart Dance. Details to come.

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Highlights of 2018:

February 22nd: RBC Taylor Prize professional development workshop with IFOA director Geoffrey Taylor and 5 emerging writers. Thanks to Su Hutchinson for making these vital conversations happen.

March 3rd: Spiritual Memoir 2.0 workshop with Eufemia Fantetti, as part of the University of Guelph Writers Workshop series.

March 15th: Nonfiction panel at Wilfrid Laurier University, with Emily Urquhart and Tasneem Jamal, as part of Emily’s tenure as Edna Staebler Writer-in-Residence at WLU. (Psst: we all have “Edna Staebler” in our bios!)

April: The wayward bride in Appalachia. At age 18, I eloped to the North Carolina foothills, to marry a young man I hardly knew. A musician, who talked me into going South. This spring, my daughter, Toronto filmmaker Cailleah Scott-Grimes, and I will go looking for those who sheltered (and married) me way back when.

April 26th: Arts & Literary Magazine Summit, Toronto.

Spring: Adjudicating “Best Editorial Package” for the National Magazine Awards. Join us at the NMAs June gala in Toronto!

Summer: Adjudicating TNQ’s Edna Staebler Personal Essay Contest with Tasneem Jamal, Emily Urquhart and colleagues. Contest winners are announced in August and featured in our fall issue.

October 13: Daylong Workshop for the Quebec Writers Federation on how to apply to lit mags–the process demystified!

October 15: Writing Workshop at Meteque, as part of Native-Immigrant’s What Nourishes You? project.

November: Moderating, hosting…another Wild Writers Festival, year 7! Stay tuned for details. Then it’s off to Colorado to talk about collaborating with textile artist, Barbara Olson.

 

Highlights of 2017:

October: Launch of Foment literary magazine cued to the Ottawa Writers Festival. Honoured to write the afterword for this year’s edition.

September: “Greeting fields.” A generous grant from the Region of Waterloo Arts Fund gave me time in ancestral territory, researching the Bruce County archives in Southampton to write the capstone chapter of my book, Sainted Dirt.

June 20-24th: Writer-in-residence at Gallery Métèque in Montreal (NDG) to celebrate the start of Native Immigrant VII: Tionnhekwen: The Seeds of Life. The residency includes a writing workshop (11-1 PM, June 24th), as well as meetings with artists, writers, publishers and activists to discuss the role of writing in cultural collaboration. I will also be joining collective members in gathering oral histories around Dress # 7, The Seeds of Life installation.

Writing Retreat to work on Sainted Dirt. The chapter, “Zion’s Children,” was long-listed in the CNFC’s recent contest. Thanks to the contest organizers and to judges willing to take risks on my unorthodox saga about eloping to a commune deep in Appalachia.

Also, Body & Soul: Creative Nonfiction for Seekers and Skeptics showcases extraordinary original work by diverse women writers from around the country. What an honour to be editing this anthology. Alison Pick penned the foreword, which will also appear in TNQ 145 (winter 2018). More details in an upcoming post.

April 28th: Arts & Literary Magazines Summit, Toronto. A chance to schmooze with colleagues in person. With 60+ lit mags (and those are the ones in English) across the country, it’s a challenge, keeping up with the surge of changes in the industry. Thanks to this year’s organizers and presenters.

April 20th: announcing the shortlist for this year’s National Magazine Awards. I had the pleasure of serving as one of three judges for the Best New Magazine Writer. We have incredible talent in this country. My best to all whose names were in the running. Keep digging. The work you do is vital. We need your voice.

Ongoing: TNQ’s diversity project began with introducing emerging writers from a broad range of backgrounds to the trials of breaking into publishing. Jagtar Atwal, Leonarda Carranza and Tamara Jong, in particular, have been our guides since 2016, when we really questioned whose works we were publishing, and why. Anna Ling Kaye, guest editor for TNQ’s summer issue (no. 143), as well as TNQ’s Consulting Editors Lamees Al Ethari and Tasneem Jamal have also been crucial to this process.

You can read more about the project at TNQ’s blog, under The Back Story.

Ongoing: TNQ’s nonfiction feature, Soundings, showcases innovations in spiritual memoir. To date we’ve featured work by Carleigh Baker, Emily McKibbonK.D. Miller, and Zarqa Nawaz. Forthcoming: Dora DueckSue Goyette, Laura LeggeAlison Pick, and more. Send your queries to editor@tnq.ca.