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Literary Collections Canadian

Going to Ground

A Journey through Chronic Pain, Aging and the Restorative Powers of Nature

by (author) Luanne Armstrong

Caitlin Press
Initial publish date
Mar 2022
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2022
    List Price

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At the age of five, Luanne Armstrong fell in love with the beauty of the land--the late afternoon sun on a field of emerald-green grass, the clucking of hungry chickens as she spread seed for their meals. Her growing years were spent subsistence farming with her family, living closely with the animals of the farm and immersing herself in the surrounding wilderness. Now, at seventy-two, she continues to garden--albeit a bit more slowly and on a much smaller scale--and to observe the world around her, both human and animal.

Going to Ground is a deeply intimate and meditative collection of personal essays exploring the intersections of chronic pain, the myths and stories that make us human, and the unexpected magic of finding your rage and joy reflected back to you by nature. Through these brave and vulnerable vignettes brimming with a lifetime's worth of wisdom and filled with astonishing prose, Luanne Armstrong gets deeply personal about what it means to recover from traumatic brain injuries, grow older when you've fallen in love with being needed, and slow down enough to listen to nature, even when the message isn't what you were expecting to hear.

In this mix of self-reflection, nature-inspired philosophy, and social critique, Armstrong helps us make sense of the complicated relationships between aging parents and their adult children, the changes brought about by climate change and technology, and the slow, surprising process of getting older when you belong to the generation that lived by the motto, "Never trust anyone over 30."

About the author

Luanne Armstrong, MFA, Ph.D, is a novelist, freelance writer, editor, and publisher. She is deeply interested in writing about place and nature. Her research interests also include the ethics of autobiographical writing, ecological identity, and writing as inquiry. She has published over fifty stories and essays in magazines and journals, and is the author of fourteen books, including poetry, novels, and children’s books. She has been nominated for numerous prizes and awards. Her first novel, Annie, was a best-seller in Germany. Her YA novel, Jeannie and the Gentle Giants, was nominated for Canadian Library Association’s Book of the Year, the Sheila Egoff BC Book Prize Award and the Red Cedar Award. It placed second in the Silver Birch Award. It was also named by McNally Robinson Booksellers in Winnipeg as one of their top ten all time best children’s books. Luanne has taught Creative Writing for many years at the college level including at Langara College, and at summer schools in BC and Alberta. She is a popular speaker and workshop leader at writing conferences. She is presently working on a book about the ethics of autobiographical writing for Pacific Educational Press as well as a book of essays about environmental ethics. She is an adjunct professor of Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia. Luanne currently lives on her organic heritage farm in the Kootenay region of BC.

Luanne Armstrong's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“These are stories of a woman aging in place at the same rate that her childhood farm returns to the wild and society drifts away from the storytelling she tuned into long ago. Luanne Armstrong reclaims it by inviting us into her farm’s oral traditions and filling them with life. These are wonderful, companionable stories of joy, pain, aging and loss, against the counterpoint of a land ever-deepening and ever more personal. A lesser writer would have dwelt on loss. There is loss here, and pain, but overall, there is life. This is a book about discovery and being held by beautiful but unforgiving Kootenay Lake. After a life writing and farming on its shores, she passes the gift on to us, in a work of great wisdom.”

—Harold Rhenisch, award-winning author of Out of the Interior and The Tree Whisperer

Going to Ground is a deeply affecting book. Imbued with a wisdom that comes from a life lived with intense curiosity, Armstrong’s writing shows us how questions about the physical and metaphysical world remain large and full of marvel. With honesty and unsentimental acuity, Going to Ground charts the losses that come with the passing of time and the beauty that remains. ‘So much to know, still. So happy to learn it, out here, on the edge of knowledge and understanding.’ This is a book filled with grief and joy but most of all wonder. This is a book to love.”

—Donna Kane, author of Orrery, a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Awards

Other titles by Luanne Armstrong