The Hummingbird Podcast

The Hummingbird Podcast

Two friends linger in conversation about things at the centre of their creative work: identity (Celtic and Métis), healing and wellness, the spirit of place, and the pull of mystery. Catherine Graham is an award-winning writer and creative writing teacher living in Toronto. Jessica Outram is a Métis writer and educator, the 4th Poet Laureate of Cobourg, and a centrally-assigned Principal of Program: Indigenous Education K-12. Visit New episode every two weeks!


March 12, 2023 31 min

We continue to explore how ancestors and family impact our writing. Jessica talks about her Métis roots and shares her poem “Search Out the Water.” This poem explores the life of her Great-x5-Grandfather, Ezekiel Solomon. She also shares an excerpt from her forthcoming novel for middle grade children, Bernice and the Georgian Bay Gold. We talk about reciprocity, silence and how to listen deeply.

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We explore how ancestors and family impact our writing. Catherine reads a passage from her novel Quarry that links silence with trust and creativity. She also shares some excerpts from Æther: An Out-of-Body Lyric. Jessica and Catherine talk about the darker side of silence and how the act of writing can lead us to truths.

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February 12, 2023 32 min

Catherine reads one of her all-time favourite poems “Snow” by Louis MacNeice. Catherine and Jessica explore the poem’s abundance, beauty, complexity and mystery. Jessica reads her poem “Was Grandmother Lonely Too?” and we see how snippets of family stories come together to make a poem.

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January 22, 2023 30 min

What happens when we put loss and hunger on the page? Catherine reads the poem "One Art" by Elizabeth Bishop and talks about how this poem opened up new pathways in her writing journey. Jessica shares the story behind her recent discovery of the poem "The Hummingbirds" by Mary Oliver. All this and more. Plus hummingbird cake!

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January 15, 2023 28 min

We talk about how poems find us. Jessica shares the prose poem “Desiderata” and the story of how it found her. We explore the poem’s content and talk about how each sentence serves as a guidepost for life. Plus wonder, seeing something anew, and the importance of listening.

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January 8, 2023 31 min

As we continue to explore what feelings mean to us as poets, we share and discuss a quote by E. E. Cummings which leads to a chat about metaphor and imagery. We also talk about the importance of play and discovery during times of transition when we are between writing projects. After sharing a quote by Muriel Rukeyser, we urge our listeners to find the poem that’s out there waiting to give you goosebumps.

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January 1, 2023 30 min

We talk about ways we move between the inner and outer world and share a quote by Pearl S. Buck. Catherine reads her poem “Doll’s Eyes” and discusses the role dolls played in her childhood to muscle her imagination. Jessica talks about the need to better understand the language of feelings and shares her poem “Begin Again.”

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December 4, 2022 29 min

As two HSPs (Highly Sensitive Person) we talk about the impact this trait has on our creative lives. Jessica reads the Emily Dickinson poem, “I’m Nobody! Who are you?” and shares a story about the unexpected gift that arrives when letting go. Catherine reads her poem “The Bullied” and we explore the power of the inner life. Plus Orchid and Dandelion Children, intuition and trust.

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November 27, 2022 31 min

We talk about how this widely known writing rule both serves and doesn’t serve our creative journeys and explore variations such as: write to know. Catherine reads her poem “MRI” from The Celery Forest and discusses the relationship between the real and the imagined. Jessica shares her poem “This Morning a Mirror” and talks about presence and absence, the “welcome” and the “worrisome” in a landscape she loves.

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November 20, 2022 29 min

We share quotes by Virginia Woolf and Robin Wall Kimmerer. We talk about what connects us to the living world and explore the power behind hidden patterns. Plus birds, being present, and “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond.

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November 13, 2022 30 min

We explore how songs make their way into our poetry. Jessica and Catherine read Jessica’s poem “Act 3” and talk about the balance of passion. letting go, and how with every blackout there’s always hope. Catherine reads her poem “I Thank You Burt Bacharach” and we explore how songs transport us and what it means to “live in the poem.”

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November 6, 2022 30 min

We explore the blackout in the creative process—as pause, as gap, as moving deeper into surrender. Catherine shares her poem “For A Lost Stepdaughter” and how it came to be. Jessica and Catherine read Jessica’s poem “Act Two” and we explore what it evokes. We talk about what leads to worries and fears plus the never ending flux of the creative process.

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October 30, 2022 29 min

We step into another creative portal by exploring voice. Catherine shares her poem “The Queen Is Not Welcome Here” and the story behind it. Jessica and Catherine read Jessica’s poem “Act One” and Jessica shares why the image of the jar continues to capture her imagination and work its way into her poems. We talk about the exchanges between the external and internal, beginnings and endings, and after each “blackout” the importance o...

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What do we do as creators to tilt our journey towards a creative space? We discuss various ways to enter in. Catherine shares the story behind her poem “The Red Element” and Jessica shares her work-in-progress poem “Being Poetica.” We ‘ache and soak’ our way into the creative journey.

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October 16, 2022 30 min

We kick off the season’s first episode by sharing a quote by Martha Graham about what it means to “keep the channel open.” We discuss our hummingbird vision through identity, signs and synchronicities. We also explore two poems: “Hummingbirds” by Patrick Lane and “Sketch in October” by Tomas Tranströmer. We are happy to be back!

We had some technical difficulties with sound in this episode as we get used to new equipment. By the ne...

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May 15, 2022 33 min

In this last episode of our season we explore the writing rule omit needless words. Jessica talks about revision through the four seasons of story. We chat about the importance of listening to the work, allowing for discovery through play, trusting our gut reaction and following our instincts. Also, Julia Child, dreams, Seamus Heaney and what leads us to this: who I am as a writer. All this and more.

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What branches above us and spreads below: How two poets connect with the oak tree.

Catherine shares the story behind her poem “Oak” from The Celery Forest and Jessica shares the story behind her poem “On Being a Tree” from The Thing with Feathers. We talk about the thin line between the living and dead, dreams, ancestors, mothers, air-dancing and what it is to be inside a song.

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Circles, beginnings, awakenings and bursts. Catherine reads her poem “Chthonic” from Her Red Hair Rises with the Wings of Insects. We explore a poem’s soundscape and how poems communicate with each other. Catherine talks about how the colour red is key to her work and Jessica talks about how ideas move towards us or away from us to find a home. We explore cycles and season and what thoughts are with us when we’re writing. Also proc...

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April 24, 2022 32 min

The Otherworldly: The ease and unease embedded in transformation. We explore fairy trees, the wee folk, thorns, blooms and portals. Also, secret gardens, hums and hummingbirds and the real estate of the poet. Catherine reads an excerpt from her second novel, The Most Cunning Heart, and Jessica reads her poem “If She Had a Secret Garden” from The Thing with Feathers. What is it to travel further into the self? Plus connections, rela...

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April 17, 2022 30 min

The Between: from writing to publishing to letting the book go. We talk about good questions to ask an author, energetic tendrils and the intimacy of the first person. Catherine reads an excerpt from her second novel, The Most Cunning Heart and Jessica talks about her first poetry book, The Thing with Feathers.

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