My Grandmother’s Hair

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My Grandmother's Hair

Published 2007 by Edgar Kent Inc., distributed by University of Toronto Press

“Our stories never leave our bodies.”
Our family stories make our memories and shape our lives.

“Poignant, honest and endearing,” My Grandmother’s Hair tells the story of how her art kept Ann Elizabeth Carson alive and showed her the truth as she re-membered and relived the stories her own life embodied.

My Grandmother’s Hair delves into personal and social stories about how power is realized and suppressed in the body. This intimate, first person narrative is beautifully rendered in prose, poetry, drawing, painting, sculpture, and interviews with other people. The author explores how the connections of our memories are made in the body and tells the stories of those whose lives and memories are often ignored.

My Grandmother’s Hair cracks open with the deeply life-changing story of Ann Carson’s grandmother: the moment her husband demanded she cut off her hair, and the single cry of anguish she let out during the act. That story resurfaces, eventually becoming relevant in the author’s own life. Carson shows how the myths and archetypes of our culture layer with our memories — spoken or buried, our own or our elders- -and have so much to do with the way we live our lives.

She brings to light the tendency we all have to “live in that twilight zone where you say you believe one thing so you can be part of a community, while quietly living your own truth in  order to save your sanity.” Then she bravely shares her own healing journey of coming out of the twilight zone so we may all discover that tapping into the images and languages of  our own experience — our memories — can nourish and encourage each of us in a powerful way.

This book reveals how myth, metaphor and family stories shape our lives. The result is an honest, poignant tale that encourages readers to look more deeply into themselves.


Responses & Reviews

Marion Woodman, Jungian Analyst, Author. London, Ontario.

An autobiography told with alarming authenticity. Alarming because it divulges the delights and devestations of being the third generation daughter of a family rooted in small town Ontario. Ann Elizabeth Carson details the resultant psychic spit created in herself. She superbly outlines her healing process through the creative and connecting power of myth, and of her own art work. Readers will look more deeply into themselves.

Regine Kurek, Artist. Director, Arscura School for Art. Richmond Hill.

In this book Ann Elizabeth Carson looks truth squarely in the eye. Art can be terrible. Art is not always fun. But it is honest. Art is not just decorative, or superfluous. Art is necessary, essential for our surival! In fact it could just be that helps us to stay alive, well and sane. There cannot be enough written about this truth and there will never be enough courageous souls who dare to make art for life as the path to wholeness. Fortunately Ann Elizabeth Carson is one of them. A fabulous and creative read!

Maryleah Otto, Journalist, Author. Huntsville.

Your candor, honesty and no-holds barred account stirred powerful feelings and awakened memories. Art work, poetry, narrative- a three dimensional, complex texture disclosing the suppression and marginalization of women-will resonate in our hearts long after the reading, and will have particular appeal for serious minded feminists as well as students of social psychology. More casual readers will also find many riches within these pages.

Margaret Johnston, Anglican Priest. Bracebridge.

When I started reading I was not sure where the journey would take me or where it would end. However, I could not/not take the risk and was compelled to keep reading as my own memories and remembering came flowing into my body and consciousness.

Anne Craig, Consultant to the Arts. Toronto.

I reached for My Grandmother’s Hair because of Ann Elizabeth Carson’s sculpture, painting and poetry. Then, as I read, I so connected to it. I have wanted to explain my life and times to my children and grandchildren. And also to let younger women know where we came from and what we have accomplished. It is here in this special book. chapters.indigo.ca 30/11/06

Jackie Grandy, Student, Writer, Artist. Toronto.

A genre-defying, challenging, enjoyable read that cannot be pinned down to any one area of content or style. A post-modern, feminist social memoir written from a perspective of psychology, small town Ontario life in the 30’s, art therapy, classical mythology and individual myth-making, personal reflection and memoir. A must read. Chapters.indigo.ca. amazon.ca and .com 11/11/06

Meg Salter, Organizational Effectiveness Consultant. Toronto.

This poignant autobiography will resonate with many people who are consciously aware of their own healing journeys. Ann Elizabeth Carson provides an intimate picture and graphic depiction of how our character is moulded by our family and social contexts, and the psychic split resulting in mind, body and emotions. Carson’s portrayal of her own multi-faceted healing journey, using myth, poetry, art and narrative is an inspiration for readers who seek to look more deeply into themselves. chapters.indigo.ca. 22/12/06 amazon.com and .ca. 01/12/06. Barnes and Noble, 22/12/06

Helen Barron, E.S.L Teacher. Toronto.

This is an inspiring memoir by a talented artist and writer. It describes her struggles with tragedy and adversity and how the arts helped contribute to her insight and victory. I hope it becomes widely available. Chapters.indigo.ca. 04/12/06

Jane Champagne, Artist. Author, Ontario Landscape: A Practical Guide to Painting Landscape on Location. Southampton.

I heard the writer read from her book, accompanied by a slide show of her sculpture and paintings -a rare artist who can create in all three mediums. A profoundly touching and far-reaching memoir in a language open to all readers, it reads like a love story to woman’s unquenchable spirit, rather than a treatise on her survival. amazon.ca 22/12/06

Toronto Women’s Bookstore My Grandmother’s Hair, Ann Elizabeth Carson.

A moving, multigenre autobiography combining images, poetry, and personal essay, this performative book calls readers to read out loud. Interweaving the author’s life with her grandmother’s life and her memory of it, this book offers a view to women’s life cycles in epic survey and in the detail of a moment.

Liis Windischmann, Toronto.

I had the privilege of hearing the author read from this eloquently written book. The words reached out to me from the pages when I read it but hearing it live was truly special. If you love all aspects of art, you will melt into this book — it melds art, poetry and sculpture while exploring the author’s journey. It truly is a unique read.

Diane Pellini, Toronto.

My Grandmother’s Hair takes the reader through a journey of the senses. It is a poignant look into a woman’s heart and soul through many mediums. Photos of sculptures reflect the thoughts in the written words beside them. Poetry further explores the autobiographical details of the author’s life. The reader (or should I say viewer?) is lucky to explore the author’s life from many angles.