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 struggling to release powerful, disruptive stories. 

I am the nonfiction editor of The New Quarterly; associate creative director of the Wild Writers Literary Festival; core faculty at Write on the French River Creative Writing Retreat; and a member of Native Immigrant arts collective, collaborating with first peoples in the global north and south.

I also belong to the CNFC (Canadian Nonfiction Collective).

Out & About in 2017:

December: The wayward bride in Appalachia. In 1973 I eloped to Appalachia, where I wed, in the woods, a youth I hardly knew. This fall, my daughter, Toronto filmmaker Cailleah Scott-Grimes, and I will return to the woodlot, 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, Karen Connolly, Kyle Edwards, Alicia Elliott, Stacey May Fowles, 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.

September: Greeting fields. A generous grant from the Region of Waterloo Arts Fund will allow me to spend the month in ancestral territory, researching the Bruce County archives and meeting with Indigenous storykeepers, to write the capstone chapter of my book.

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 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, Sainted Dirt: 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 unorthodox 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; Alison Pick is penning the forward. More details in an upcoming post.

May 26th: The New Quarterly wins gold at National Magazine Awards. This year’s 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 www.tnq.ca

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 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.