Terese Marie Mailhot, Author of Heart Berries

Heart Berriesby Terese Marie Mailhot, was released less than two months ago and is quickly finding its way onto list after list, and is a New York Times Bestseller.

Heart Berries Terese Mailhot

Photo from CBC

Without giving away too much about the book, which is a memoir, we wanted to find out more about Terese Marie Mailhot. Read on for quotes from and about the author, which will add layers of understanding to your reading of Heart Berries.

More About Terese Marie Mailhot

  • The book really started as a way for Mailhot to try and get her now-husband to understand her experiences as an Indigenous woman... as if to validate herself to him, a white man. In the end, though, she realized that it wasn’t about him at all, but rather about trying to articulate her experiences to the world.[1]
  • She feels her duty as in Indigenous writer is to reach her potential as an artist first and foremost. It is about giving humanity to the experiences the women where she is from have. For Mailhot, it is a true joy to create art, despite the heaviness of that what she creates.[2]
  • “Explaining who I was without inciting pity was difficult. It always is. 'Is it hard to talk about what happened to you?', people will ask… 'I used to do a lot worse for money', I say... It’s true. There is nothing like truth to me. Explicitly saying the truth is a privilege for some. Or maybe it is being heard that is the privilege.”[3]
  • “I have exceeded anyone’s expectation of me, including my own, but I still believe that people need help. And some people, especially where I’m from, should have the help they need to keep children from starving. Or worse.”
  • Mailhot grew up on the Seabird Island Reservation in British Columbia. You can learn more about the Band and its history on their website.
  • On what writing has done for her: “I understand now that at least I have my voice, and that’s a true gift. It’s like having a club that feels powerful. Even if everything is stripped from me I’ll still have it.”[4]
  • You can watch Mailhot read excerpts of the Heart Berries here, to get a sense of her demeanour and voice. 
  • Mailhot is a Tecumseh Post Doctorate Fellow for 2017-2018 at Purdue University, in the Department of English. “The postdoctoral opportunity provides a pathway for Indigenous scholars to be supported and mentored by Purdue faculty culminating in a potential tenure-track appointment.”[5}
  • On how Mailhot’s son influenced her:
“I had to learn to love somebody when I felt like I was nothing. I was broke, and loving him wholly without considering losing him, it taught me something about love. He opened my heart in a way that nobody else could have. Nobody else could have made me so tender and human. Him needing me made me a better person. I feel like children do that to us if we answer the call. I feel like when you answer that call, you see how good the world can be.”[6]

 Terese Mailhot

 Photo from Counterpoint Press

 

 

[1]Paraphrased from an interview with National Public Radio Inc., February 11, 2018.

[2]Paraphrased from an interview with National Public Radio Inc., February 11, 2018.

[3]Grief, Autonomy and Belonging in Canada, from “Out in the Open”, CBC. 

[4]Interview with Sue Carter from Metro/The Star 

[5]Purdue Fellowship 

[6]Electric Literature interview with Deirdre Sugiuchi