The traditional homelands of the Saugeen Ojibwe have been home to my family since the 1850s when they (un)settled the Queen’s Bush in what is now southwestern Ontario.

Pioneering. Grounded. Giving. That’s how they’re remembered. If I’ve lived up to the family lore, it’s with a twist–sidestepping cattle to cultivate the word.

My field is the well-wrought essay. Creation and critique. I work with artists, activists, scholars and emerging writers who have powerful stories struggling towards release. 

I serve as the Nonfiction Editor of The New Quarterly, and as Associate Creative Director of the Wild Writers Literary FestivalI am a member of Native Immigrant arts collective and the CNFC (Canadian Nonfiction Collective).

Out & About in 2017:

End of November: The wayward bride in Appalachia. In 1973 I eloped to Appalachia, where I married, in the woods, a promising young man I hardly knew. This fall, my daughter, Toronto filmmaker Cailleah Scott-Grimes, and I return to see if we can find the good people who sheltered (and married) me way back when.

November 3-5th, Waterloo, Ontario: the 6th annual Wild Writers Festival. Chris Banks, Kyle Edwards, Alicia Elliott, Helen Humphreys, Tasneem Jamal, Anna Ling Kaye, Lori McNulty, Alison Pick, Michael Redhill, Carrie Snyder, Betsy Warland and Kathleen Winter confirmed… Stay tuned for details.

End of August: TNQ announces the winner of our Edna Staebler Personal Essay Contest. Winner and runner-up will be published in our Fall issue (no. 144); shortlisted authors will appear in one of our 2018 issues. Many thanks to Consulting Editor Tasneem Jamal, who makes the process such a joy.

June 20-24th: Writer-in-residence at Gallery Métèque in Montreal (NDG) to celebrate the beginning 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 Carolina, Agata, Judith, Tais and Philip in gathering oral histories around Dress # 7, The Seeds of Life installation.

We’re also planning to bring one of these extraordinary installations (dresses) to Waterloo, Ontario, in 2018.

Early June: Writing retreat. One glorious week in Prince Edward County, to work on my CNF collection (essays), Sainted Dirt: Gratitude for the Marginal, Maligned, Neglected and Peculiar. 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 saga about eloping to a commune deep in Appalachia.

Speaking of risks: Body & Soul: Creative Nonfiction for Seekers and Skeptics showcases extraordinary original work by diverse women writers. I am honoured to be editing this anthology, and Alison Pick has agreed to write the forward. More details in an upcoming post.

May 26th: The New Quarterly wins gold at National Magazine Awards! The gala celebrated 40 years of Canada’s best work in the magazine industry. TNQ placed first among literary magazines, and 4th in medal standing overall: gold for fiction and poetry, and honourable mentions for essay and fiction. I also had the pleasure of serving as a judge this year, for Best New Magazine Writer. Congratulations to winner Amorina Kingdon, and to the stellar finalists. Celebrate with us at

May 5-10: Met some fine storytellers at this year’s Write on the French River Creative Writing Retreat, founded by writer-adventurer, Nicola Ross. Many thanks to colleagues Don GillmorAlison Pick and Lindy Mechefske for bracing workshops, and to Brian D. Johnson and Marni Jackson for a candid look at their film, Al Purdy Was Here.

Each year, TNQ partners with the Retreat to offer a scholarship to a resident as well. This year’s winner was the fabulous Eufemia Fantetti. Watch for her post about her experience on TNQ’s blog.

Past winners include: Laura Rock, Lindy Mechefske, Pamela Mulloy and Kirsteen MacLeodall of whom have gone on to snag book deals related to their work at the Retreat. Hmm, could be there’s something in the water…

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 of nominees 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 introduces gifted 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 began in earnest to question 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 stream, Soundings, is reserved for innovations in spiritual memoir. To date we have featured work by gifted writers such as Carleigh BakerLaura Legge, Emily McKibbonK.D. MillerZarqa Nawaz and Alison Pick. Send your queries to