Poetry

The Year of Our Beautiful Exile

(Gaspereau Press, 2015)

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In The Year of Our Beautiful Exile, Monica Kidd observes the ways in which estrangement and loss punctuate our days, but need not always diminish them. Whether she is writing of the bicentenary of Charles Darwin’s birth, the displacement of whole communities during the epic flooding of Albertas rivers in 2013, or of the many minor disconnections which occur in the headlong tumble of domestic life and love (where sometimes a smartphone might seem better connected than a spouse, remembers my birthday with a cheery tra-la), Kidd demonstrates a keen eye for the ordinariness of loss, for the way in which the world evolves and adapts in the midst of perpetual change and for the many small moments of human connection that form our lives.

Handfuls of Bone

(Gaspereau Press, 2012)

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Monica Kidd’s Handfuls of Bone takes the reader to the end of the road and back, to outports both literal and figurative, to consider how it is that things somehow hold together. The poems, primarily short, narrative in form and lyric in spirit, are driven by distilled observation and concern themselves with the elemental. These truths find their expression in images of fish drying on Newfoundland clotheslines, of the velvety breath of a newborn baby, of a family’s grief following a sudden death, of Amelia Earhart’s ambition and apprehension, and of motherhood through thick and thin. In confronting uncomfortable moments of loss, want, illness, uncertainty and conflict, Kidd holds a level gaze, avoiding sentimentality and nostalgia. Kidd’s is a poetic which embodies the twin skills of her physicians trainingcool-headed and unblinking observation-based diagnosis combined with compassion, empathy and humanity.

Actualities

(Gaspereau Press, 2007)

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Gathered from its authors wide-ranging experience, Monica Kidd’s debut collection includes local legends and personalities, imagined scenarios based on found photographs, lamentations and confessions of love, lyrical studies of medical anomalies, and landscape portraits. Kidd’s deft imagery and songlike stride render her subjects in striking, familiar gestures that bring the reader alongside her gait and into her minds eye.

The collection opens with a series of poems that tell stories from Kidd’s adopted home in Newfoundland. A drowning, a shipwreck, a community referendum, an abandoned town, a birthday party and other landmark events are relayed in a fashion that relies less on strict narrative account than on associative brush strokes. Infusing her subjects with emblematic strength, Kidd resurrects family tragedies, nights of revelry and community politics in coastal towns.

Found is a collection of photographs purchased from a second-hand store in Winnipeg and paired with Kidd’s imaginative translations of their black-and-white foregrounds into full-colour memories. In one photo a woman surveys a snow-covered field, in another three young girls at the beach squint into the sun. How they got there, where they are going, and the expectations surrounding the captured moment are the poets invention.

Actualities closes with a sequence of Field Notes written during Kidd’s stay at a biology station on Lake Opinicon in southern Ontario. The notes address fields, woods, ponds, night skies and thunder storms, brought to the page with the country lilt and painterly memory that mark Kidd’s work throughout the collection.

Non-Fiction

Any Other Woman: An Uncommon Biography

(NeWest Press, 2008)

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In the early twentieth century, Andrew Zak proposes to Rosalia Patala in a letter. New to North America, Rosalia boards a train from New York to Crowsnest Pass, Alberta, where she marries a man she knows only through the written word. They lose their first child, face the dangers of hazardous coal mines, and raise a family of four children on their homestead.

But, like time-worn cloth, this true story contains holes and Monica Kidd, poet, journalist and great-granddaughter to Andrew and Rosalia, is compelled by them. Did Andrew and Rosalia court? Why did they each leave Slovakia? Many years later, Kidd travels from her home in Newfoundland to Alberta and then Slovakia, where she trails the ghost of Rosalia in search of why she, and so many women like her, launched themselves into the terra incognita of becoming a frontier wife. In prose as beautiful as her poetry, Kidd describes the life-altering journey that decodes the mysteries of her family’s past and weaves the threads of the tale into this uncommon biography.

Fiction

Beatrice

(Turnstone Press, 2001)

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Beatrice is about to have her heart ripped out.

Like most small prairie towns, Beatrice, Alberta has at its way of life, its own townspeople, its own familiar quirks. At the centre of the community lies the heart of the people, their grain elevator, and the townsfolk have just been told it’s scheduled to be demolished.

Farmcorp has decided to tear down several small elevators so rival grain companies will not be able to purchase them. But the people of Beatrice feel lost without it, and set out to buy it themselves.

Colleen, who is still considered an outsider after living in Beatrice for 17 years, sets up a new restaurant to bring in new business. Dale, a young farmer struggling to make a living, proposes a fundraiser to save the town’s identity. With the help of Vlad the baker, Dolores the United Church minister, and poor old Perry, who still has yet to get over the death of his wife, the town comes together to reconcile their pasts as they look towards an uncertain future.

Fiction

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The Momentum of Red

(Raincoast Books, 2004)

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The Momentum of Red tells the gripping and unusual story of the fierce loyalty and selfless love that can exist between father and daughter. Randy, a truck driver in his fifties, raises his daughter Mar after his wife dies in childbirth. As his beloved Mary grows up, he struggles to let her lead her own life. But when Mary meets and moves in with a dangerously volatile man, the ties that bind parent to child are tested again.

Monica Kidd’s depiction of the father-daughter bond is extraordinary. And in the tradition of writers such as Barbara Kingsolver and Sharon Butala, Kidd offers ravishing descriptions of the western landscape, and a beautifully nuanced sense of how the land mirrors the emotional lives of her characters.

Selected articles and essays

  • “The Music of Small Things.” In: Coming Here, Being There. A Canadian Migration Anthology, edited by Donald F. Mulcahy, pp. 71-78. Toronto: Guernica (2016)
  • “Writing Home.” In Coming Here, Being There. A Canadian Migration Anthology, edited by Donald F. Mulcahy, pp. 275-288. Toronto: Guernica (2016)
  • “Public Grief: The Hip.” Canadian Medical Association Journal 188(16):1000-1129.
  • “Ground-truthing.” In: Falling in Love with Poetry, edited by Kim Jernigan, 127-132. St. Jacob’s: The New Quarterly: Canadian Writers and Writing (2016)
  • “Shadows, Slicksters and Soothsayers: Physicians in Canadian Poetry.” Canadian Literature (2014);221:37-54
  • “Keeper of the Marks” in The Malahat Review Autumn 2013: 5-10 (Won a National Magazine Award in the Profile Category)
  • On medicine, arts and sharing the burden. Canadian Medical Association Journal. 185(8): 688-689
  • “Is there a doctor in the kitchen?” Reader’s Digest Mar 2012. pp. 52-63.
  • “Enamoured by Chance.” The New Quarterly (2011);119: 111-112
  • “Ground-truthing” in The New Quarterly (Winter 2010); 12-17
  • “When the Bough Breaks” in Reader’s Digest (October, 2010): 70-75. Originally published as “Fried Egg Sandwich” in Riddle Fence #3 (2009):70-81.

Writing and Journalism Awards

  • 2014 National Magazine Award (Profile) for “Keeper of the Marks” in The Malahat Review
  • 2011 Ars Medica/Canadian Medical Association Journal’s Humanities Poetry and Prose prize for “Risk factors for hemorrhagic pancreatitis”
  • 2011 KR Wilson (Canadian Business Press) Silver Medal for Best Column (shared with Alan Cassels and Eric Cadesky), The CMAJ Salon
  • 2010 First Place, Geist Magazine’s Jackpine Sonnet Contest
  • 2008 Honorable Mention, Geist Magazine’s Postcard Story Contest (Honourable Mention)
  • 2006 First Prize in Special Radio Program, The Gracie Awards, for A Map of the Body
  • 2005 Finalist in Radio – Environment, New York Festivals
    • Feature (Radio), Atlantic Journalism Awards
    • Finalist, In-Depth Radio), Society for Environmental Journalism
  • 2003 Canadian Council of University Biology Chairs’ Distinguished Public Education Award for Science Reporting
  • 2002 Continuing Coverage (Radio), Atlantic Journalism Awards
    • Entertainment (Radio), Atlantic Journalism Awards
    • Finalist, Radio Drama, New York Festivals
    • Honorable Mention – Investigative Reporting, Radio Television Digital News Association
  • 2001 Spot News (Radio), Atlantic Journalism Awards
    • Continuing Coverage (Radio), Atlantic Journalism Awards
    • Feature (Radio), Atlantic Journalism Awards
  • 2000 Continuing Coverage (Radio), Atlantic Journalism Awards
    • Health Reporting Award, Canadian Nursing Association

Films & Videos

praxis: Twillingate

As a medical student in 2007, I spent a month in the community of Twillingate, on Newfoundland’s northeast coast. This is one version of my time there. Shot in 16 mm B&W.

The Aviatrix

In 1928, Amelia Earhart wanted to become the first woman to fly across the Atlantic. (As a passenger first; her efforts to become the first female pilot would come late.) On the way, she and the crew of Friendship were grounded for a week in Trepassey, Newfoundland due to bad weather. This is the story of that week, as recounted by Laura Devereaux, who met her as a young girl.