Welcome to Understorey Magazine

corkums island

Corkum’s Island by Anya Holloway

Welcome to the first issue of Understorey Magazine, stories of motherhood in Nova Scotia. We are very pleased to publish new writers, new works by established writers, and visual art from women around the province.

Through diverse artistic styles and personal experiences, our contributors have created a full cast of women and mothers: the joyous, the struggling, the lost then found, the expectant, the raging, the unheard, and many more.

These writers and artists show that motherhood is not uniform or static. There is no code or role to squeeze into. While our stories might overlap—and there is great strength at these junctions—no two motherhoods are the same; none is more worthy or typical or right.

Understorey Magazine weaves together several strands of my own motherhood experience. I gave birth to three children within fourteen months: my eldest followed by twins. Until that time, I’d thought very little about mothers or babies. Some of my friends had children but many did not. I saw little difference: just bring the kid with you, I figured, and continue life as always. But within the span of two years, I found myself housebound, unable to work or shop or even go to the bathroom without making prior arrangements. Not so easy.

When my kids were toddlers, I met a woman at playgroup who also had three boys under two. She changed a diaper with another baby strapped to her chest and still kept an eye on her eldest racing around the room. She looked shell-shocked but said, “I could probably run a small country now.”

For me, it took becoming a mother to see motherhood. Then we moved to South Africa, and I saw much more.

The twins had just turned two and my older son was three when we arrived in Cape Town. I knew no one. I didn’t work outside the home but looked after the kids: thirteen hours, broken sleep, thirteen hours again. I found it hard. I thought I had it hard, until I met mothers who showed me real hardship, lives I could barely fathom yet lives that still, in surprising ways, intersected with mine. From those women, I learned that we all do more than we take credit for—and are capable of still more than we do. I now believe most mothers could run a small country.

Understorey grew from my own motherhood and from the stories of other women. A third strand is my experience with Literary Mama and the Afghan Women’s Writing Project. In my years working with these magazines, I’ve come to love all stages of the publishing process: meeting writers and reading their work, editing (yes, I love to edit), creating a finished piece, and spreading the word among readers. More than the process, however, these women-focused magazines taught me the power of shared stories, of saying: This is who I am. This is what I’ve seen. This is what I think and how I feel.

Understorey Magazine celebrates the strength, diversity, creativity, and community of women and mothers in Nova Scotia. We invite you to read and share these stories. We also value your opinion. Please tell us what you have enjoyed in the magazine, what you would change, and what you would like to see in future issues. You can leave a comment on the website (in the space under each story) or email me at editor@understoreymagazine.ca.

Thanks for reading!


About Katherine Barrett

Katherine Barrett is Understorey Magazine’s founder and editor in chief.

About Anya Holloway

Anya Holloway lived in Ontario before moving to the Maritimes to paint. She has been involved in art for most of her life, studying art and architecture throughout her high school years. Upon graduating, she earned her degree in Graphic Arts. In 2008, she opened the doors to her gallery in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia. Having a strong belief in the art education of our youth, she teaches painting and art history to children ages 9-17. Her work is held in private collections throughout the globe. Some of these include, Canada, USA., Japan, China, Europe, Australia and the U.K. Please see more of Anya's work on her gallery site, blog, and on Facebook.

3 thoughts on “Welcome to Understorey Magazine

  1. Sue LeBreton

    Congratulations on launching this new magazine. I love the idea that we moms could likely run a small country. I am looking forward to reading stories from home. I live in Calgary now, am originally from NB, but attended two universities in Halifax. There is something special about the east coast that never leaves a person.

  2. Kathleen Rorke (Barrett)

    Congratulations Katherine on launching this new magazine. The comment about running a small country made me smile as I have on more than one occasion told my daughter Emma that her and I could run the world together. Pat sent me the link and I will share it with my friends in Guelph. All the Best!

  3. Janet Barkhouse

    What a very interesting life story, and what a fascinating project has come out of it! Thank you for doing this work, and now…I’m going to read the rest of the stories!


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