Tonya Lailey

I’m a poet.

I spent a lot of time with trees as a kid, and later worked with vines through whole seasons in my parents’ vineyard in Niagara. Working on the farm kept me alert to insects, weather, plants of all kinds – their textures, smells and colours – and the birds and mammals that adapted to our rows and posts, trellises, tractors and sprays. The tension between wildlife, weather and our agricultural goals was ever-present. We changed our farming practices to be ecologically sensitive when we enlarged the scope of our attention to consider all the life on the farm, not just the life and success of our crops. We began to understand that we could participate in creating some mutually supportive systems rather than being in constant competition with other lives.

I try to remember that we are in relation; that we are here but for the grace of other living beings. 

I live in Calgary, the traditional territories of the Blackfoot Confederacy (Siksika, Kainai, Piikani), the Tsuut’ina, the Îyâxe Nakoda Nations, and the Métis Nation (Region 3). 

In the spring of 2022, I completed an MFA in creative writing through UBC’s optional residency program. I write, lead workshops and sell wine for small Canadian wineries practicing sustainable agriculture.

I live with my two daughters and our cat Talou, who spends days up in the old willow in our backyard. Every year I turn more of my small lawn into more garden.