As I write, two anniversaries approach. International Women’s Day, March 8, is a day to celebrate women’s many achievements and to advocate for women’s rights. March 5 marks one year since the first presumptive COVID-19 case was identified here in Alberta. How are these connected? The pandemic is disproportionally costing women mentally, financially, and emotionally. This inequality extends to people with disabilities, Indigenous populations, lower-income households, members of the LGBTQ2+ community, the elderly, and more.

It’s been a challenging year. Where I live, we continue to stay close to home, wear masks, and limit our exposure to public places and people. We use Zoom, Skype, and Instagram to stay connected, but the connection is so much LESS. I miss going to book launches and readings. I miss sharing meals with family and friends. And I worry about so many people around me. Pandemic life feels unnatural. It wears me down daily. It’s a strange way for communal creatures to co-exist.

One bright light during this pandemic year has been working with Jane Cawthorne on Impact, our new book about women writing about their lives after concussion. Because Jane and I live on opposite sides of the country, the pandemic hasn’t changed the way we work all that much. But the book has kept us connected at a time when we can’t visit. And having both had concussions, we’ve also noticed some similarities between post-concussion life and pandemic life. The brain fog, the requirement for isolation. How will we reconnect when this is over? What's on the other side? Maybe this book is a bridge.

This International Women’s Day, let’s celebrate the ways we work together as women. Let's reforge our connections.

A swimmer who collects trash. A childhood bicycle ride through Toronto. A recipe for beef and cucumbers. A harrowing security check in the Seattle airport. In Impact: Women Writing After Concussion, my latest collection with Jane Cawthorne, twenty-one writers weave together story and truth as they contemplate the aftermath of concussion.

Like our last book, Impact is a literary work. It does not offer scientific or medical expertise. And yet, we know these new works will add to the understanding of concussion and traumatic brain injury (TBI.) We know that research still focusses on men, and specifically men in sport. We also know that, when men’s bodies and experiences are considered normative, women are invisible and their needs are not met.

All of the women writing in Impact have struggled to get appropriate care. And so, in this volume, many of the writers contemplate what recovery means when “getting back to normal” is no longer an option. Sharing their most vulnerable selves, the writers in this volume take up a wide range of topics—including return to physical activity, caregiving for family members with concussion, confrontations with ableism, struggles with mental health, and what it means to create and write with a hobbled brain.

E. D. Morin and Jane Cawthorne, editors

September 2021

University of Alberta Press

  • E. D. Morin

Welcome to my new website!

Development began about a year ago. At the time, my first book was history, the second was in its early stages and the pandemic’s appearance in Canada was still months away.

My co-editor, Jane Cawthorne, and I had fully expected that our next book together would unfold much the way the first one had, complete with cross-country book launches and in-person readings. As with our previous anthology, Writing Menopause, the challenge would be to do all of the usual book things with concussed brains. But we were starting to see the bonus—if you can call it that!—of launching a second book that was about concussions, and thus having a platform to talk frankly about our limitations. We'd be able to more easily and openly explain away the oversights and occasional f-ups caused by our foggy, mixed up brains.

And then the virus arrived. Suddenly in-person book launches were a thing of the past. Online launches and book trailers had become the norm. With our new book, Impact: Women Writing After Concussion, due out in fall 2021, we wondered what our next launch would look like. We wondered how we'd get the word out to people who could most use the book.

As I write, there are now coronavirus vaccines ready to be deployed around the world. Although it's still unclear how they will all be rolled out and who will get them and when, these vaccines appear to be game changers. When our book is released next fall, it's possible that we'll be able to do launches in a bookstore, just like the old days. But I still don't know if cross-country book tours will be the right thing—and not just because of virus threats. Maybe sticking to a few events in our own regions (Alberta/B.C. and Ontario), powered by a hybrid electric vehicle, will be the way to go.

Small and seismic shifts continue to take place globally. I think of how people are shifting the ways they communicate and make art. We are speaking more openly. We are rising to the issues of the day, be it in support of political change, environmental and climate awareness, or fighting for the rights of those who need help the most.

It's been a tough year, but I am so very grateful for this latest book project with Jane. It's a hopeful book, even as it explores devastating events. Check in again for more news about Impact in my next post. In the meantime enjoy exploring my new site, a gorgeous and fierce patch of colour for whatever dark or joyful days lay ahead. Much thanks to Carla Klassen at Clay Graphic Design for the layout and beautiful graphics.