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September 28, 2014

New Books by The M Word Authors

m-word-coverIn many ways, it seems impossible to believe that the wondrous reception of The M Word last spring could have ever happened. I still can’t fathom the generosity of both the readers and the writers involved with this project, and I’m so proud of the book itself and the further conversations it has generated since it was published. But a particularly cool experience for me has been seeing elements of the essays at play in their writers’ latest works. If you enjoyed The M Word, I urge you to check out these new books by four writers from the anthology.

status-updateStatus Update, by Sarah Yi-Mei Tsiang:

The “book of secrets” referred to in Sarah Yi-Mei Tsiang’s essay, “Mommy Wrote a Book of All My Secrets” was actually this book, Tsiang’s latest book of poetry, which was nominated for the Pat Lowther Award in the spring. It’s a collection of poetry inspired by Facebook status updates, which is only the beginning of what is interesting about this funny, beautiful book and I loved so much when I read it in June.




Between Gods, by Alison Pick:

I’ve not read Between Gods yet—I am hoping to stop by the launch this week and pick up a copy there. But the book has been receiving goods reviews and was a bestseller the week it was released. And I know that Pick’s essay from The M Word, “Robin”, appears in a reworked form in the memoir. I am looking forward to find out how it fits into a larger context.



girl-runnerGirl Runner, by Carrie Snyder:

The connections between Snyder’s essay in The M Word, “How to Fall”, and her new novel, Girl Runner, are more oblique, but when I read the book, I couldn’t help but notice Aganetha Smart’s insistence on never falling (which is pretty much gravitationally impossible) in the novel. Girl Runner has been receiving great reviews, and will be published in countries all over the world in 2015.



stowawaysStowaways, by Ariel Gordon:

Gordon’s essay in The M Word, “Primapara”, contains a poem called “Primapara”, which appears also in her new collection, Stowaways. This would be the poem with the immortal line, “If I had had twins, I would have eaten one.” The entire collection is just as mordant and intriguing, the familiar rendered from a whole new point of view.


August 11, 2014

Two New Reviews

m-word-coverThe M Word received two new reviews this weekend from blogs I admire. And my favourite thing is that each review has comments already that show the way the book generates conversation. I’m so pleased about that.

From the review at Matilda Magtree: “In other words, there’s something for everyone. Even me. Because if you’re a woman, you fall into some category where motherhood is concerned. This, whether you like it or not. You have the parts. And if you don’t, that may be the problem, or the celebration, depending on your outlook, your personal goals.

And that it is so personal is what I most enjoyed about the book. The writing, yes, but I wasn’t merely reading, you see, I was being drawn into this conversation, being reminded that yes, I also have a story, some history on this subject. And let’s hear it, the conversation seemed to say, because as you can see, no woman is excluded from this club, for here is a truth: if you’re a woman it’s pretty hard not to have a few thoughts on the motherhood thing.”

And in her review, Laura Frey highlights her favourite essays from the anthology, and writes, ” These essays inspired me to think and remember and empathise, and I want to talk about it!”

July 22, 2014

The M Word: New Reviews!

IMG_20140506_185315Breaking my holiday blogging fast to report on three reviews which have made my week. The first is from Sheree Fitch, who posted an extended version of her review from the Telegraph-Journal on her blog. She writes, “Think of reading this book as experiencing the difference between moderate and severe contractions in the muscles around your heart. Uncomfortable, yes, but also necessary if we ever want more than the icing on a Mother’s Day cake that too glibly frosts over the realities of our lives connected to theM word.” So grateful for this, particularly as Sheree is a writer I admire so much. 

I also admire JC Sutcliffe, who is equal parts brilliant and lovely, and so I was overjoyed to find she’d written about The M Word on her excellent blog, Slightly Bookist. She writes, “Motherhood–many different, dark, unspoken aspects of it–is no fairytale even when it does have a happy ending. Ambivalence climbs the intertwined helical strands of maternal feeling and artistic ambition like a voracious vine, clinging, powerful. Being a mother heightens emotional extremes (despair to joy and back again dozens of times a day) while muting actual life extremes (possibility of adventure, spontaneity, freedom from responsibility).”

And then a fantastic story about how small is the world. Winnipeg writer Dora Dueck also wrote about The M Word on her blog: ” I longed to put my hand through the page with a pat and say, It gets better. Usually it does, I think. But such a typically maternal gesture, isn’t it? Coming from the stage I’m in now, which is post-Mother in a way, easier on every level but with some terrific adults in my life who happen to be my children. Me still, and again, in Heidi Reimer’s words, “gobsmacked and humbled” by their existence.” 

And it’s funny, because while Dora Dueck is the one writer of the three I’ve never met, unbeknownst to her, we’re connected after all. Her granddaughter is Harriet’s playschoolmate, and I’ve spent countless hours over the past two years hanging out in the park with her and her mom, who told me all about her mother-in-law and her books. Which made me all the more pleased by her generous reading and the review.

I continue to feel so lucky at how kindly the book has been received by the world, and gratified too that we were so right that there was such be a place for it.

June 19, 2014

The M Word at Parent Books

Update: So pleased that Nathalie Foy took excellent notes and recapped last night’s conversation about mothers in children’s books. You can read all about it here

One last event for The M Word to cap off a wonderful spring of excellent indie book shops. Oh, it’s been fun, a whirlwind. And this was the perfect way to finish, an intimate gathering at the bookshop just around the corner from my house. The sun poured in the windows as evening rolled in, and we had a really good time talking moms in children’s books–dead moms, overbearing moms, harassed moms, and moms with lives of their own. Reading books, talking books, and buying books. Terrific fun. Thanks to Parent Books for hosting such a fun event, and to the excellent women of The M Word for turning out and being fabulous. It has been such a pleasure to work with all of you.

The Book Table

The Book Table



Ransacked book table at the end of the night. The BEST!

Ransacked book table at the end of the night. The BEST!


June 18, 2014


The M Word at PArent Books

June 12, 2014

Reminder: One Week Until This

The M Word at PArent Books

June 6, 2014

Market Wine

yeatsI’ve had no blogging mojo this week—sometimes this happens. I have also been incredibly tired, a condition that will not be ameliorated by my attendance on Harriet’s school trip to the High Park Nature Centre this afternoon. With the baby in tow. In my experience, shepherding 20 kids on the subway is one of the more crazy-making circumstances of one’s life. But the weather is beautiful, and I think we’re going to have a great afternoon. Tonight’s plan is wine on the porch, followed by Top of the Lake. The wine is from the Farmers’ Market, which means that the Farmer’s Market (and summer) have returned to us, and also that wine is now permitted to be sold at local markets, and both of these points are incredibly pleasing. So I am looking forward to tonight, though not so much, because I find that evenings that are too anticipated usually result in my cleaning up one of my children’s vomit. Somehow, they just know.

Also pleasing, I wrote a review of the memoir, Birding With Yeats, by Lynn Thomson in the National Post. It’s a curious book which only became weirder the more I thought about it, which I mean as an endorsement, actually. The fact that I thought about it so much, mostly. I was also reading it at the same time I was reading A Siege of Bitterns and Pluck. So many birds. It inspired me to create a list of these books and more–as ever, putting a bird on it is popular.

And I was thrilled by this review of The M Word in The Winnipeg Review this weekend by Angeline Schellenberg. She got the book exactly, and wrote about it so well. I loved, “Some moms decorate Barbie cakes in their sleep. The M Word is a kind of What to Expect When You’re the Rest of Us” and  “A book about motherhood that includes those who never gave birth? Those who’ve been pregnant but never held a child? Halleluiah! Finally: a conversation with no “us versus them.” Here is only “us,” those who desire to “be connected by this understanding of what it is to love and celebrate your children.” The M Word offers what mothers (new and old) need most: to know we’re not alone.” So proud of this, and pleased that this book continues to find its way into the world.


June 3, 2014

A Conversation About Mothers in Children’s Books

The M Word at PArent Books

I’m really excited about the event we have scheduled for 7pm on Thursday June 19 at Parentbooks in Toronto (121 Harbord Street, just west of Spadina). I will be there, alone with Heather Birrell, Heidi Reimer, Amy Lavender Harris and Patricia Storms, and we’ll be talking about representations of motherhood in children’s books. Having chosen some of our favourite examples, we’ll be doing readings from the books and discussing why these stories are important to us, and also tying their themes to the broader themes from The M Word anthology. It’s going to be an intimate gathering, and I do hope that audience members will arrive with their own ideas for discussion.

Space is limited, so you are asked to RSVP at Parentbooks (416-537-8334).

The M Word will be for sale, along with some of the other books under discussion

I hope you can make it!

May 30, 2014

4 Mothers 1 M Word

4m1b-logo-master-copy1I’ve been so happy to follow along as the writers at 4 Mothers 1 Blog have been responding to The M Word all week. Nathalie Foy wrote about reading the book as an exercise in empathy, noting: “It was glorious to look into that kaleidoscope and feel as much myself as ever; it was wonderful to look at difference without feeling the need to be different.” Carole Chandran read the book and felt relief at how far she’s come with carrying her own motherly burdens, which don’t seem so burdensome these days. And Beth-Anne Jones wrote about ambivalence, of which in the book there is plenty expressed. She writes, “Parenting isn’t about attachment or a helicopter, a tiger or a presence of mind; it’s a harrowing see-saw ride with such soaring highs that it can shock the breath right out of you and thud-to-the-ground lows that will diminish you, gut you, scare-the-shit-out-of -you.” I love that. 

And today, I get to add my voice to the mix, expanding on my “non-fiction anthology is a revolutionary act” idea to show that women’s stories together are a powerful force and also the stuff that ordinary days are made of.

Thanks to Nathalie, Carole and Beth-Anne for having me, and for their wonderful support for The M Word.

May 27, 2014

The M Word keeps going…

cakeThe Great Sheree Fitch wrote a beautiful review of The M Word for the Telegraph-Journal in New Brunswick on May 10. The review is not online, but I received a clipping in the post yesterday, and it’s so wonderful. She writes, “The M Word felt like a kind of emotional labour for the three days I was reading. This is a motherlode of deeply personal truths, generous and courageous souls, bearing witness to lives shaped, if not defined, by, well, “life with a uterus,” as the foreword suggests.” I am honoured and thrilled by this review.

I was also very pleased by poet and critic Sina Queyras’s review of the book at Lemon Hound. I found the review interesting, provocative, and totally right in a lot of ways. She asked great questions (about the book itself and her own reactions to it), opening the book itself up wider. Mostly though, I like the part where she writes, “Would I recommend this book? I think so…” and I’l leave it at that. She’s right—The M Word is a start, and I never intended it to be an end. And that, I think, is part of the book’s power. 

Finally, I am so pleased that this week, the excellent blog 4 Mothers will be focussing on The M Word all week long. Today, my friend Nathalie Foy writes about The M Word as an exercise in empathy. I’m looking forward to the other posts, and to having my own guest post on the site on Friday. The M Word is a start indeed. It’s really nice to see the conversations continue.

And they’ll continue at a really fun event we have coming up at Parent Books in Toronto on June 19, at which we’ll be discussing representations of motherhood in children’s books. I’m looking forward to this one. Stay tuned for details…

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