EMWF Panel: Art and Healing

Thursday September 17th, 8:00 - 9:30 p.m. EST (online)

Presenters: Christa Couture, How to Lose Everything, Lorna Crozier, Through the Garden: A Love Story, David A. Robertson, Black Water: Family, Legacy and Blood Memory, and Emily Urquhart, The Age of Creativity: Art, Memory, My Father, and Me
Host: Susan G. Cole, NOW Toronto

Art can challenge. Art can move. Art can uplift. Art can heal.

The four books featured in this session explore deeply personal stories of lives disrupted by trauma, grief, and the search for meaning and identity. Through their personal art practices (writing, poetry, music, drawing, painting) the authors navigate their unique circumstances to move towards healing and acceptance. Join Christa Couture, Lorna Crozier, David A. Robertson and Emily Urquhart as they explore the critical impact of art in their lives.

This event includes closed captioning.


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How to Lose Everything
By Christa Couture
Published by Douglas & McIntyre

Through her son’s heart transplant, his death, his brother’s single day of life, the amputation of her leg as a cure for bone cancer, abortion, divorce, and a move across the country to start over after it all, Christa Couture has come to know every corner of grief - its shifting blurry edges, its traps, its pulse of love at the centre, and its bittersweet truth that resilience is borne of suffering. How to Lose Everything is a collection of personal, vulnerable essays, invitations, into how Couture knows that place of exile-and how she survived it.

The stories connect dots of sorrow, despair, reprieve, and hard-won hope; part portrait of grief and part frank revealing of the emotional and psychological experiences of motherhood, partnership, and change.

It’s a book for people who want to know about losses they haven’t had; an insight into extreme experiences and emotions. It’s a book for people who want their own losses to be named. and it’s a book that aims to be a friend to anyone who’s experienced loss of any kind.

Christa Couture is an award-winning performing and recording artist, non-fiction writer, broadcaster, and cyborg. She is also proudly Indigenous (mixed Cree and Scandinavian), queer, and a mom. Her fourth album Long Time Leaving was released in 2016 on Black Hen Music and was nominated for Best Folk Album at the year’s Indigenous Music Awards. She has a new LP releasing Spring 2020 called Safe Harbour. As a writer and storyteller, she has been published in Room, Shameless, and Augur magazines, and on cbc.ca. In 2018, her CBC article and photos on disability and pregnancy went viral. Couture is a frequent contributor to CBC Radio and is currently the weekend morning on-air host at 106.5 elmnt fm in Toronto. Couture lived for many years in Vancouver, BC, but now calls Toronto home.

Through the Garden: A Love Story (with cats)
By Lorna Crozier
Published by McClelland & Stewart

A powerful, deeply affecting portrait of a long marriage and a clear-eyed account of the impact of grief, writing as consolation, and the enduring significance of poetry from one of Canada's most celebrated voices.

When Lorna Crozier and Patrick Lane met at a poetry workshop in 1976, they had no idea that they would go on to write more than forty books between them, balancing their careers with their devotion to each other, and to their beloved cats, for decades. Then, in January 2017, their life together changed unexpectedly when Patrick became seriously ill. Despite tests and the opinions of many specialists, doctors remained baffled. There was no diagnosis and no effective treatment plan. The illness devastated them both.

During this time, Lorna turned to her writing as a way of making sense of her grief and for consolation. She revisited her poems, tracing her own path as a poet along with the evolution of her relationship with Patrick. The result is an intimate and intensely moving memoir about the difficulties and joys of creating a life with someone and the risks and immense rewards of partnership. At once a spirited account of the past and a poignant reckoning with the present, it is, above all, an extraordinary and unforgettable love story.

Told with unflinching honesty and fierce tenderness, Through the Garden is a candid, clear-eyed portrait of a long partnership and an acknowledgement, a tribute, and a gift.

Lorna Crozier is the author of seventeen books of poetry, including God of Shadows, which was longlisted for the Raymond Souster Award, What the Soul Doesn't WantThe Wrong CatSmall MechanicsThe Blue Hour of the Day: Selected Poems, and Whetstone. She is also the author of The Book of Marvels: A Compendium of Everyday Things and the memoir Small Beneath the Sky. She won the Governor General's Literary Award for Poetry for Inventing the Hawk and three additional collections were finalists for the Governor General's Literary Award for Poetry. She has received the Canadian Authors Association Award, three Pat Lowther Memorial Awards, and the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize. She is a Professor Emerita at the University of Victoria and an Officer of the Order of Canada, and she has received five honorary doctorates for her contributions to Canadian literature. Born in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, she now lives in British Columbia.

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Black Water: Family, Legacy and Blood Memory
By David A. Robertson
Published by HarperCollins

A son who grew up away from his Indigenous culture takes his Cree father on a trip to their family's trapline, and finds that revisiting the past not only heals old wounds but creates a new future.

The son of a Cree father and a non-Indigenous mother, David A. Robertson was raised with virtually no knowledge or understanding of his family’s Indigenous roots. His father, Don, spent his early childhood on a  trapline in the bush northeast of Norway House, Manitoba, where his first teach was the land. When his family was moved permanently to a nearby reserve, Don was not permitted to speak Cree at school unless in secret with his friends and lost the knowledge he had been gifted while living on his trapline. His mother, Beverly, grew up in a small Manitoba town with not a single Indigenous family in it. Then Don arrived, the new United Church minister, and they fell in love.

Structured around a father-son journey to the northern trapline where Robertson and his father will reclaim their connection to the land, Black Water is the story of another journey: a young man seeking to understand his father's story, to come to terms with his lifelong experience with anxiety, and to finally piece together his own blood memory, the parts of his identity that are woven into the fabric of his DNA.

David A. Robertson is the author of numerous books for young readers including When We Were Alone, which won the 2017 Governor General’s Literary Award and was nominated for the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award.  A sought-after speaker and educator, David is a member of the Norway House Cree Nation and currently lives in Winnipeg. His latest books are a middle-grade fantasy novel, The Barren Grounds (Tundra Books), and the memoir, Black Water (HarperCollins Canada).

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The Age of Creativity: Art, Memory, My Father, and Me
By Emily Uquhart
Published by House of Anansi Press

It has long been thought that artistic output declines in old age. When Emily Urquhart and her family celebrated the eightieth birthday of her father, the illustrious painter Tony Urquhart, she found it remarkable that, although his pace had slowed, he was continuing his daily art practice of drawing, painting, and constructing large-scale sculptures, and was even innovating his style. Was he defying the odds, or is it possible that some assumptions about the elderly are flat-out wrong? After all, many well-known visual artists completed their best work in the last decade of their lives, Turner, Monet, and Cézanne among them. With the eye of a memoirist and the curiosity of a journalist, Urquhart began an investigation into late-stage creativity, asking: Is it possible that our best work is ahead of us? Is there an expiry date on creativity? Do we ever really know when we’ve done anything for the last time?

The Age of Creativity is a graceful, intimate blend of research on ageing and creativity, including on progressive senior-led organizations, such as a home for elderly theatre performers and a gallery in New York City that only represents artists over sixty, and her experiences living and travelling with her father. Emily Urquhart reveals how creative work, both amateur and professional, sustains people in the third act of their lives, and tells a new story about the possibilities of elder-hood.

Emily Urquhart is a National Magazine Award–winning writer and has a doctorate in folklore from Memorial University of Newfoundland. Her first book, Beyond the Pale: Folklore, Family, and the Mystery of Our Hidden Genes, was a Maclean’s bestseller, a finalist for the BC National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction, and a Globe and Mail Best Book of 2015. Her freelance writing has appeared in the Toronto Star, The Walrus Magazine, Longreads, the Rumpus, and Eighteen Bridges, among other publications. She is a nonfiction editor for the New Quarterly and teaches creative nonfiction at Wilfrid Laurier University. She lives in Kitchener, Ontario, with her husband and their two children.

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Susan G. Cole is a journalist, author, playwright and former senior entertainment editor at NOW. A graduate of Harvard, where she co-founded the university’s first women’s collective, Susan is a feminist activist and musician – she started Toronto’s first all-women rock band in 1978 – with a focus on violence against women. She has written two books on the subject, Pornography And The Sex Crisis and Power Surge: Sex, Violence And Pornography (both Second Story Press). Her play, the groundbreaking comedy A Fertile Imagination about two lesbians trying to have a baby, has been produced seven times across the country and she has edited Outspoken, a collection of scenes and monologues from Canadian lesbian plays (Playwrights Canada Press). She writes about film and politics and is currently NOW’s contributing books editor.

Want a copy of the books featured on this panel?

The Bookshelf (Guelph) is our bookselling partner for this event. If you would like to purchase a copy of one of the books from this event, you can order online at bookshelf.ca or phone 519-821-3311 x1. Free shipping or curbside delivery in Guelph. $10.00 shipping cost outside of Guelph.

Thank you to our supporters:
The Angel Gabriel Foundation, The Canada Council for the Arts, The Department of Canadian Heritage, Kitchener Waterloo Community Foundation, League of Canadian Poets, Open Book, The Ontario Arts Council, The Pollock Family Fund and Wellington County.