Joanne Gallant is a writer and registered nurse living in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Her debut book, A Womb in the Shape of a Heart: My Story of Miscarriage and Motherhood (Nimbus Publishing, 2021) was nominated for the Margaret and John Savage First Book Award. She’s had essays published in ‘Mutha Magazine’ (2021) and ‘Oh Reader Magazine’ (2021), and her book reviews have been featured in The Miramichi Reader.
Joanne was raised in Fall River, Nova Scotia by her parents, both schoolteachers, who created a home-life centered around curiosity and storytelling. Her father, a Guyanese immigrant, often shared memories from his childhood to Joanne and her siblings. He told stories about wild turtles and monkeys roaming the streets of Georgetown, and days spent eating stalks of sugarcane plucked from the side of the road. Joanne’s mother, an English teacher, made regular trips to the library where she could find the perfect book for anyone. A deeply creative person, she often crafted poems to make her family laugh and made beautiful paintings as gifts.
Joanne obtained a Biology degree from Mount Allison University in 2008 and a Nursing degree from the University of Alberta in 2011. She has been working as a registered nurse at the IWK Health Centre since 2012 and her work as a pediatric nurse continues to be challenging, fulfilling, and her experiences as a nurse teaches her so much about life.
Although Joanne went into nursing as her profession, she has always been a writer working on stories and poems that she mostly kept to herself. She kept a diary from the time she was nine years old until she was an adult, and writing has always been a way for her to process anything she was struggling with. Following a difficult journey to motherhood, having endured multiple miscarriages, Joanne turned to the familiar comfort of writing to cope with the grief and loss she experienced. It was these pages of writing that would later turn into her debut book. Since she began writing her story, Joanne has spoken about miscarriages on TV and radio interviews, podcasts, and online, hoping to give voice to others who may also struggling and to normalize the conversation about disenfranchised grief.
Joanne was an apprentice writer in the 2020 Alistair MacLeod Mentorship Program and worked under the guidance of author and poet Carole Glasser Langille. She’s participated in workshops led by local writers including Stephanie Domet and Michelle Butler Hallett, and is always looking for ways to connect with the Atlantic Canada writing community. Some of her favourite books from local authors published in the last year include The Sister’s Tale by Beth Powning, Beneath Her Skin by C.S. Porter, and Alexander MacLeod’s latest collection, Animal Person.
Joanne has recently taken up sewing with her grandmother’s antique sewing machine and each spring she tries in vain to grow tomatoes from seed. She lives near the ocean with her husband, their five-year-old-son, and spirited dog, Maddy.