In Bloodroot, Betsy Warland traces how a mother and daughter’s shared gender can shape the very anatomy of narrative itself. In her mother’s final year, Warland quietly discovered how to disentangle a crucial, concealed story that had rendered their relationship disconnected and fraught. Warland weaves a common ground that moves beyond duty and despair, providing both questions and guideposts for readers, particularly those faced with ageing and ill parents and their loss.
The 2000 edition of Bloodroot broke new ground in memoir form and uncharted storytelling. The 2021 edition, reprinted by Inanna for the launch of its Inanna Signature Feminist Publications series, includes a new foreword by Susan Olding and a new essay by Warland that explores subsequent questions, insights and tenderness only the passage of time can enable.
“The first time I read Bloodroot, I was astounded. The book’s daring form, ground-breaking at the time, corresponded with the nonlinearity of grief and the fragmented nature of memory and gave a generation of young writers permission to tell their stories in the way they demanded to be told. Twenty-one years later, the beauty and lucidity of Warland’s prose, the artistry in her storytelling, and the boldness of her voice continue to resonate. This book is still astonishing, still heart-opening, and more necessary than ever.”
—Ayelet Tsabari, author of The Art of Leaving
“Bloodroot is a deeply moving and evocative memoir, a reminder that death is not a finite moment, but an unsteady process of holding on and letting go. Read the text. Read the white space. Read the silences in between. Every page is marked by Betsy Warland’s presence and precision.”
—Chantal Gibson, author of How She Read
“What makes Bloodroot a precious reading is the path it follows from facts to memory and fragments of oneself, to thoughts creating and assembling enough proofs to ‘untell a (her) mother’ and compose a viable relation to the truth.”
—Nicole Brossard, poet, novelist and essayist, author of Mauve Desert
“Reading Bloodroot, a thrilling accomplishment of craft, intellect and intuition, I relived my own process of motherlessness. And Warland’s narrative of motherloss is a process, though not linear, of storytelling. Bloodroot’s narrative offers us its own companionship, its own collusion with us as our mothers die.”
—Myrna Kostash, based in Edmonton, author of Ghosts That Walk the Parkland
“Betsy Warland’s Bloodroot is a classic in motherloss memoir that reaches every reader where she is in that life-long journey of learning to accept death as part of our lives. Generations have profited from this complex, brilliant, and insightful book. And now with the new edition, Warland offers more—it reunites the original work with its roots.”
“Every word in this book is stretched to capacity, gently unpacking the truth about all the unmet needs that often sit between mothers and daughters. Offered with such tenderness, and careful pacing, the white space invites us to breathe between revelations as we birth new ways, more compassionate ways, to see one another. This is, as Betsy says, a narrative about abandoning disappointment; acquiescing to grace.”
—Jónína Kirton, Métis/Icelandic poet
“Like many readers of Bloodroot 20 years ago, I swayed mightily in Betsy Warland’s sensational e/motional capacity to space and pace this intimate daughter-writer narrative of mourning that both says and unsays. I feel anew profoundly accompanied by Warland’s embodied probing of the contradictions and excisions that narrative performs. Warland’s brilliance as an innovator of creative nonfiction unfolds throughout Bloodroot and the fascinating, generous essay that accompanies this new edition.”