My book, page as bone ~ ink as blood, released in April 2015

page_as_bone_cover (2) with accentsI am happy to say that my book, page as bone ~ ink as blood, has been doing very well. The release of it in April 2015 has kept me busy with many readings including a book tour to Saskatoon and Winnipeg where I read at the McNally Robinson Bookstores. The book made it into the BC Books for Schools and BC Aboriginal Books for Schools Catalogs, recommended for Grade 11 and 12 students due to the “Métis” voice. I am currently working on my next book, An Honest Women: Maiden, Mother & Crone.

I have now an author website ( and a Twitter account (@joninakirton).  Since releasing the book I have neglected this website but did keep up with my Sacred Circles for Women Facebook page. You may wish to join the circle on the Facebook page as I regularly post inspirational and informative messages for women. ~ All my Relations ~ Jónína Kirton

page as bone ~ ink as blood cover design finalized

page_as_bone_cover (2) with accentsAs we prepare for the launch of my book, page as bone ~ ink as blood, I am filled with excitement. This is my first book. See below for the back cover blurb….

“Jonina knows the black holes caused by trauma; that one must learn to trust their feelings and let the pen follow the scent of the story that the body holds within it. What our minds have forgotten or locked away, the body never forgets. The result of her willingness to ‘let go’ is a loosely woven collection of poems and lyric prose that follow the contemplations of a mixed race woman. Death, desire and divination are the threads running through the narrative as it ventures often into what some call ‘betweenness’,  living in two worlds e.g. mixed race, spirit and the concrete world, and how the veil lifts for her and others. As she struggles for footing in this world she is gifted with visits from a mother long gone… but not all visitors are welcome.


Said to be dark and delicate by some, the pieces are like whispers in the night; haunting and filled with a quiet truth telling that allows creative licence where her father is held hostage in a hut and she can turn her Christian mother into a witch by night. Loosely autobiographical, they are the weavings of a wagon-goddess who moves from her disco days of trance dance to her dream kitchen as a mother and wife.  With this collection Jonina adds her voice to the call for the kind of fierce honesty referred to by Muriel Rukeyser when she said,


“What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open.”


Jonina tells her truth with gentleness and patience, splitting the world open one line at a time.”

page as bone – ink as blood writing workshop

page as bone - ink as blood workshop March 18, 2014 at the New Westminster Library

page as bone – ink as blood workshop
March 18, 2014 at the New Westminster Library
Thanks to Deborah L. Kelly for the photograph

I thought I would take a chance and step out into new territory with my workshop page as bone – ink as blood.  It is not totally new territory, my mentors; Ingrid Rose and Doris Maranda, have mapped out some of the psychic turf where memory and the body inhabit a space not always thought to be accessible. Working with Ingrid and Doris, who both use the unusual practices found in Continuum, I was delighted with the changes in my writing. Through the breathing techniques and other body-centred practices that are offered in Continuum, I was able to birth poems and prose that satisfied my need to tell my story in fresh and unexpected ways.  As I explored what Ingrid calls, “writing through the body,” I rekindled a deeper sense of connection to, not only my memories as a child, but also to my ancestors. As I used these practices to write, I began to remember that as a child I had had a profound connection to the earth and to my Indigenous roots.

I wanted to offer this workshop as an invitation to others who many wish to reignite a relationship with the part of themselves that knows… the part that remembers the smell of the fertile earth; the part that never gives up. I am not Ingrid, nor Doris, and I am definitely not a Continuum teacher, so what I offered in the workshop was a merging of some of what I learned through Ingrid and Doris, with a simple answering of an inner call to use my drum as part of the “going deeper” exercise. We let go of the classroom/lecture structure and sat in a circle. It was a large circle, as there were at least 30 participants. After the breathing exercises, my drum and I went to each participant and showered them with drum beats from head to toe, trusting my instincts to guide me. Once finished, I read Sharon Olds, The Ferryer, as a prompt and invited all participants to write whatever came to mind, to not censor or edit anything.

We shared our writing and debriefed the experience. A number expressed surprise at the results and many spoke of the influence of the drum on the exercise. Most were graced with rich first drafts that covered new territory for them. I am very glad that I followed my intuition and told fear to take a backseat so that I could step into this new territory with my workshop offerings. By all indications this one will be a keeper.  ~ All my relations ~ Jonina

Many thanks to Royal City Literary Arts Society and the New Westminster Library for hosting this workshop.



Nominated for Remarkable Women of 2014

Jónína Kirton at the 2013 National Indigenous Writer's Conference Reading

©2013 Jason Brawn

I was so delighted to be nominated for Remarkable Women of 2014. This years theme was: The Year of Reconciliation: honouring women who build understanding and empathy between people.

Jonina Kirton is a longtime volunteer and facilitator here at PeerNetBC. Jonina facilitates sacred circles and inclusive spaces for meaningful dialogue in various communities throughout our city including the DTES. However, this is but one of the roles she plays in our fabulous city. Jonina engages others particularly those within Indigenous communities to write and tell stories. Jonina helped organize the first National Indigenous Writers Conference this past year providing space for Indigenous writers across the country exposure, recognition and acknowledgement for their art and contributions.

There were many other wonderful women nominated.

It has been a busy year… a publishing contract etc

I am delighted to report that Talon Books has offered me a publishing contract for page as bone – ink as blood.  This book is now scheduled for release in the Fall of 2015. It has been a long journey, filled with potholes and all manner of internal and external forces that could have stopped me from moving forward with this book. It is largely autobiographical, mainly poetry, with some prose. It is my first book and the learning curve was at times dizzying as I circled and re-circled the issue of who owns my story.  Yes, I spent a good deal of time worrying about whether or not I had the right to share my own story. In the end, with the encouragement my mentors, Betsy Warland and Ingrid Rose, I took flight and dive bombed the sad and often messy details of my own life.

In the meantime, I have had the pleasure of sharing the page with darling husband/editor. We both have poems in The Royal City Poets Anthology 2013. The book release was last weekend and the attendance was very good. Part Two of What Colour is the Sunset Today is up on the Arts Periodical under Flesh. I am not sure what is next. Another book perhaps. There are a few ideas floating around in my head, one being a book about my ancestors and the other a book on sacred circles. Two very different books yet somehow related as my work within sacred circles does require the support of my ancestors. But first a little time to digest all that has happened this year and time to contemplate my next steps. ~ All my relations ~ Jonina

the newly fertile girl…

Of late I have been focusing on my writing and not hosting any sacred circles. I do keep posting on the facebook page so if you have not already done so feel free to join the circle there.

My writing is taking an interesting turn and I am quite pleased with some of the new pieces. Here is a link to a YouTube video of a reading I recently did at Poetic Justice ( It includes some new work such as the newly fertile girl which is about my first moon time.

the newly fertile girl

I was never slapped but rather handed a box of kotex and a phamplet

alone in the bathroom I read about the changes in my body

in shock at the sight of blood between my legs

not at all reassured that this “transition” to womenhood was a good thing

my days as a tomboy over and my mother relieved

now considered unclean and in distress                            men should keep away


no one told me that during my moon time I could dream, have visions

were I born 4,000 years ago I would know my blood was powerful

that women running naked through fields at night made crops grow

legs spread we destroyed worms, beetles

how did my ancestors know       that within my body lay the ability to green the earth

that in those same cells the power to heal limbs

recently tests done on mice        their blood flow restricted

limbs withering                              until moon blood applied

stem cells found in our regenerative blood

cells that facilitate healing           stimulate blood vessel growth

and all because some Egyptian God and men feared our power

I did not learn to put my blood on loam dolls

this conception spell      many medications          ointments lost


there was no one there to offer an Isis knot of flax, papyrus and cotton

banished to my room instead of a hut

I only had Kotex celebrating my initiation into womanhood

~ copyright 2012 ~

Jonina Kirton

poet/author & facilitator


“Menstruation became associated with male honour and hence odd traditional practices developed like the Jewish tradition (note: it is not a religiously sanctioned tradition) of slapping a daughter who starts her period. It is believed that the original purpose was to “slap sense” into a newly fertile girl, warning her not to disgrace the family by becoming pregnant out of wedlock; or to “awaken” her out of her childhood slumber and into her role as a Jewish woman.”




we give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way

We are in the 8th month of our Intention Circle and many miracles have occurred. This month we held our circle at Jericho Beach where after a grounding meditation we all went in search of found objects such as driftwood, twigs, shells, feathers, dried leaves and stones so we could make a mandala. As we gathered the found treasures we gave thanks, honoured the cycles and the elements involved in the development of this natural piece of art i.e. if it was a piece of driftwood  we thanked the earth for offering a place for its roots when it was part of a tree, the sun and the water for maintaining it, the water and the sand for roughening it and making it the beautiful object it is today. As part of the thanks we left a little tobacco.

We were very absorbed in the making of the mandala and soon found that daylight had left us. We ended with a closing prayer in the dark. Here is a picture of the mandala which has a large orb hovering over it. Clearly someone was watching over us as we sang “We give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way”.  ~ Namaste Jonina

self-effort and grace

Artwork by Jonina Kirton

As our 2012 Intention Circle moves into its third month I find myself contemplating the need to balance the spiritual with the practical as one moves towards their dreams or visions.  At times I find that as I move into the practical steps I can lose sight of the spiritual aspects and vice versa. It seems challenging to remember both as I can easily get lost in one dimension or the other. I imagine I am not alone in this.

As I contemplated this I found this quote:

The winds of grace are always blowing, but you have to raise the sail.~ Ramakrishna

And I was again reminded of something Swami Muktananda once said.

Self-effort and the Guru’s grace are like the two wings of a bird: The bird needs both to fly to the goal.

These two quotes clearly and wisely speak to the need for self-effort and grace in all our endeavors. As we move forward with the practical steps to bring about our vision and dreams may we be ever mindful of the Creator, God/Goddess or whatever you choose to call your source of spiritual wisdom and strength. Depending on the project you may call upon other deities or the ancestors to be of assistance. For example if there appears to be barriers or obstacles perhaps some puja or prayer time to Ganesha is in order. If your project is related to the arts you could engage Saraswati’s assistance. No matter the project I always like to bring a little compassion into it by seeking the assistance of Quan Yin. There are countless deities available to us and you will of course select those that fit with your faith. For some of you this may be Jesus Christ or Mother Mary.

To this end you may choose to create an altar under your vision board or at the very least place a candle which you can light daily as you read your vision statement. Let the lighting of the candle be your invitation to the source or sources of your spiritual wisdom and strength. As you do this please do remember your sacred sisters in prayer. If we each spend a little time offering prayers for each other’s works then we will all be a force to be reckoned with…

Namaste Jonina

To imagine is to let go…..

On January 22nd we will have our first Intention circle. I have asked all participants to come prepared to share their vision or goals for their various projects. In preparation I too have been contemplating what my focus will be for this circle. In my case, I am multi-tasking; both visioning for the circle and for myself. I walk in two worlds as I explore our collective world and my individual goals. There is of course cross over. One of my goals is clearly to host/facilitate this circle. Whenever doing a circle I look for tidbits to support the topic. I pray and ask for the right book to fall off my shelf and to open at the very page where the juicy inspiration rests. Yesterday that book was Creating with Others by Shaun McNiff. The page it fell open to had important information on the art of contemplation. Very timely reminders were provided by Shaun McNiff who says that To imagine is to let go……

After reading his thoughts on contemplation, I was reminded of the difference between “thinking” and the use of prayer and contemplation to arrive at decisions. The first suggest that the answers reside within our mind, the second acknowledges that we live in an abundant universe and that the answers can find their way to us through many means. Given this, I would like to suggest that, rather than “thinking” about your vision or project and how to put in it two or three sentences; you reframe this process. In other words, in place of “thinking” our way towards the important answers we seek, we can instead use prayer and contemplation. So the question ( i.e. what is the focus of my project? how will I succinctly present this vision in two or three sentences?)  becomes a prayer, a simple request for clarity. We will not ask our mind to solve this, but rather we will seek the guidance of our Creator, Higher Self – or whatever we choose to call God/Goddess. In my experience, this is not a one-time thing. I pray without ceasing on such matters. Each time after I pray I sink into contemplation – which is so much more refreshing than “thinking”. Using these methods, previously unimagined ways of looking at our project or vision can arise. Perhaps the vision or project itself changes, morphs into something yet undreamed.

Shaun McNiff reminds us that. The creative act is based on the paradoxical ability to stay focused on what is happening, while letting go of the need to control outcomes. It is with this understanding that we walk the fine line of goal setting, or visioning, while not holding on too tightly to our initial picture or ideas. We will want to stay open to the messages that come through once we commence the journey towards our vision. McNiff encourages us to stay away from linear, step-by-step guides and to surrender to the unexpected. I like the sound of that.

I encourage you all to stay with prayer and contemplation rather than “thinking” too much. McNiff’s explanation of contemplation reminded me of the richness of these practices. He reiterates that to imagine is to let go and goes on to say …in creative expression there is a need to stay focused on a particular thing in order to travel deeply and expansively without attachment. Establishing a focal point for creative contemplation helps a person direct energy in a particular direction and avoid becoming scattered. Jumping quickly from one thing to another and trying to do too many things at once makes our perceptions aimless and superficial. Yet we don’t want to cling to an object so tightly that we block the movements of imagination that emerge naturally from contemplation.

I look forward to entering sacred space with all the participants, where together we will explore this terrain of travelling deeply and expansively without attachment.

Namaste Jonina