Composting the Facts

Donna Morrissey once said in a workshop something along the lines of: one only needs to mine the stories of one’s life in order to create fiction. This statement has been ringing like a bell lately. I’ve finished writing my last novel and while I’m waiting for it to come back from the editor, I’ve been looking at my first novel with fresh eyes.

I began to write The Cost of Weather while the crisis that inspired it was very much alive. My ex-husband coming for a visit when he got out of jail. Then. Continue reading

Darkness and Light and the Space Between

I’ve begun to write approximately a dozen blog posts in the past weeks. Most recently I wanted to share my deep delight at being able to write with my peers for six straight days. Skilled, perceptive, honest, and supportive critiquers are hard to find. I wanted to write about the challenges of moving across the country at such a late stage in my life; about sharing a home and working space with my lover after being pretty much autonomous for a decade; about the waiting game post agent landing; about the thrill of completing this last novel, confident that I’d nailed it; about the remarkable dedication of the Water Walkers; about my son’s wilderness survival apprenticeship; Pasha Malla’s dialogue workshop; reading Berlin, 1976 published in Room Magazine, my first published poem in forty years, at Planet Earth poetry reading; riding my new bicycle all through and around my beautiful new city of Victoria; getting swarmed by the hornets who’d buried their nest in the compost…

I begin and then I hesitate. The world is burning so who cares about a novel or hornets or poems or dialogue or what so-and-so’s son is doing? Continue reading

Victoria Summer Writing Workshops


For more information and to register, click here

The Heart Washes Clean

Since completing the first draft of my current novel in Banff this spring my focus has been on editing and revising, I haven’t done a lot of wild fresh writing. This weekend when I visited my friend Sue Reynolds we sat down to write together. She shared her experiences at a recent Ellen Bass and Marie Howe poetry retreat in Taos which helped me dive right in to something new.

One of the poems the participants of that retreat were given was this remarkable poem: Washing the Elephant by Barbara Ras.

I limbered up a bit, let go, allowed myself to write what was available in that moment and I was off…

Here it is: Continue reading

Tell the Truth – recognition, recall & reconciliation

Just before sunrise ceremony on the morning of my wedding in 1995, Elder Vern Harper turned to me and said, “You need to learn from your own culture; your own roots,” to which I replied something to the effect of, “But I like yours better – as a white Anglo-Saxon Protestant my history bulges with pillaging, raping and conquering.” I don’t remember his response to that, but he had generously agreed to conduct the traditional marriage ceremony for me and my Ojibwe mate. We shared the pipe under a marriage quilt designed for the wedding. I wore an elk skin dress which had taken my sister and me three days to make.

Because I’m fourth and fifth generation Canadian I’ve carried with me some notion that I’m ‘almost’ Native.

I am not. Continue reading

A restorative weekend retreat of writing & yoga


I was thrilled when Elaine Rodaro invited me to host a writing retreat at her lovely Muskoka Rose Guest House , so we eagerly set about to co-create a rich weekend getaway.

Esana Lotfy and I have been facilitating retreats and workshops since 1998 in Canada, Costa Rica, and Italy. The combination of meditative movement followed by guided writing practice has resulted in some remarkable openings – both for the body and writing craft.

Once again, Esana and I have teamed up to offer a deeply restorative and creative experience.

Here are some of the details.

From Friday, June 16 to 18 this retreat, set in an idyllic nurturing environment offers skillfully facilitated yoga and writing practice for both the novice and seasoned yogi or writer.
Meditative Kripalu yoga begins each retreat day, followed by guided writing facilitation. Afternoons are for exploration, creative endeavours or rest.

Each day closes with an opportunity to share any writing done during the afternoon to receive supportive feedback.

For more information, visit the retreats page.

Permission to Tell the Story

josephboydenThe other night my heart twisted as I listened to an interview with Joseph Boyden about the most recent attack on his authenticity. He’s had his feet held to the fire over his heritage being suspect, a sticky situation about the suspension of a colleague, and now this current accusation of plagiarism.

He’s a teller of stories with a fine brave heart. He has no need of stealing words – he does a brilliant job on his own of illuminating, revealing, and contributing to the complex and tangled historical and contemporary issues of the First Nations people of this land. Continue reading

So Far for Beauty – why we can’t stop writing

I took it “out on the dance floor” last night. All of it – the feelings of helplessness, rage, terror, and joy, too. Joy in community, in my body’s ability to move so many parts in pleasure and discomfort, in the sweet cold outside air and in the blasts of heat from the White Eagle Hall’s giant heaters.

The 5Rhythms dance practice, along with yoga, Byron Katie’s The Work, Barbara Turner-Vesselago’s Freefall writing practice, and my beloved Osho’s illuminations, all encourage one to turn toward, in, and through the dark places – from discomfort to despair – rather than avoid, suppress, or fight them. In these particularly challenging times I am intensely grateful for these practices.

When I sit down to write now, more than ever, I ask myself why? Why bother? Who, when the world is on fire, will care, will be inclined, will even be able to read any of it – pertinent to the times or not? Continue reading

“None of it happened and all of it’s true.”

stephanyI have recently signed with New York agent, Stephany Evans of FinePrint Literary Management. Everyone I’ve told understandably wants to know what’s next, when will it be published, how much have I been paid, etc. Which is hilarious given the reality that what’s next is simply waiting.

Well, waiting and doing some background work, which is almost as challenging as researching a novel. Continue reading

Poem around the Moon

moon-ringI should be doing something, such as write a poem or iron a shirt, make a list or sweep the floor; instead, I’m standing in the sharp air of November wondering at the state of the moon. I am filled with old ideas and resolutions that warp my legs. In my effort to stand straight, I bend into a ragged shape.

The moon wears a necklace or perhaps a halo that looks like a rainbow or an oil stain, which may be an omen or a portent. Maybe Leonard has written a poem in coloured cloths and wrapped it around the moon to try to show us one last time something we haven’t yet been able to see; some bigger truer picture. Continue reading

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