Heidi Grogan currently teaches creative writing at the University of Calgary. Her career has been shaped by her offerings of courses in literature, history, social justice, and memoir and spiritual writing to university students and women in recovery at St. Mary’s University, Ambrose University, and community agencies. In addition, she was recently Program Coordinator for The Shoe Project in Calgary (September 2018 – January 2019), which supports immigrant and refugee women in writing and performing their journey stories.
Heidi’s writing has been published by Caitlin Press and The Upper Room and in Canadian and US literary magazines and journals including ROOM, Weavings, and online with Weavings. Both her writing, and her work at the university level, attend to issues at the intersection of trauma, social justice, and spirituality. For Heidi, these areas of focus are also strongly and integrally connected to her work on the (M)othering Anthology.
About the (M)othering Anthology Heidi says…
When Anne shared her encounter with the word (M)othering with me, I was immersed in the aftereffects of witnessing my mother’s cremation: examining her othering, her transformation, her straining to be a good mother. And the term saw me taking time to consider, to attend to my mother’s layers of constructed identity, layers of longing and goodness and failure and, ultimately, of being consumed in her desire to be a good mother. She was. And she was not.
(M)othering is the loaded term that speaks to all that is created and costly. Of great significance. I’ve held, rocked, consoled, and lifted up ideas that turned into initiatives, and grew into community social programs. I’ve nurtured ideas from conception to (often painful) delivery, and then tried to look after the goodness that resulted so that it would flourish and be resilient, would not get squashed when life happens to it.
I am an adoptive mother. I pause here, as there is too much to say about my children’s birth mothers and how they inform my “othering” every day. Perhaps because of the adoptive experience of conceiving, gestating, birthing, nurturing and letting go, in ways that exhilarate and devastate differently than biological processes, I’ve come to know the significance of mothering as both an abstract and visceral reality.
In this, I’ve gone from thinking of mothering as parent-child only, to mothering that encompasses that which I care about, that which I am committed to loving into being, and to standing alongside, come what may, even when it is messy.
I have come to realize the sameness of physical mothering and the mothering of ideas and life-giving initiatives.
The concept of (M)othering is rich and gives me room to move…room to stand in my own shape.
Anne Sorbie is an author and an editor who is interested in connections between the Canadian landscape and the lives of the people who live with its extremes. Her current work takes up ideas of identity and migration, particularly in the contexts of (i) migration and transformation. Her investigation of identity includes research into the effects of social, familial, political, physical, emotional, psychological and geographical movement.
Anne’s fiction, poetry, essays and book reviews have been published by The University of Alberta Press, Frontenac House, House of Blue Skies, and Thistledown Press; in magazines and journals such as Alberta Views, Geist, and Other Voices; and online with Brick Books, CBC Canada Writes, Geist, and Wax Poetry and Art.
Her latest book, a collection of poetry titled, Falling Backwards Into Mirrors, will be released by Inanna Publications in fall 2019.
Here is some background from Anne about the (M)othering project…
I arrived at this particular form of the word mothering in a poem I wrote about grief and loss and family. The poem is called “Echoes of Diving Into the Wreck.” It was originally published in 2015, and today, it is a key piece in my collection of poetry, Falling Backwards Into Mirrors (Inanna 2019).
“Diving,” is a meditation on othering. The poem grew out of witnessing a myriad of strange behaviours and eccentricities in the rituals that occurred before after my mother died. In it the speaker sees “the terrible fish / of her own reflection” and recognizes herself as “(m)otherless.”
In my work I often use the concept of diving the way Adrienne Rich did: as a metaphor when I want to delve deeply, find missing stories about the lives of girls and women, and at this time especially, curate stories about (m)othering, the kind of (m)othering that alters identity.
As co-editors, Heidi Grogan and I understand that the range of this topic, and approaches to it, is much broader than biological mothering, adoptive mothering, or parent-child mothering. We believe mothering goes beyond those things, that the subject is immense and critical to our understanding of who we are as a species at this strange and transformative time in our history.
We believe that (m)othering is tied to the intricacies of self / identity—of all people(s).
(Return to the (M)othering Anthology page to read further details in our call for submissions.)