Acknowledgements: The Story Behind the Story

“Acknowledgements on Sense of Place enables the kinds of conversations we so need as authors today: conversations with the people who hold us up as writers, who help and support us along the way. Being on the show was a delight—I was able to talk to someone I’d acknowledged on the page in a way I might have been shy to otherwise and to confess how much their support shaped my writing. The show created a space to really unpack the ways writing and writers are not solitary, but are nurtured by those around us”

– Jessica J. Lee, author of “Turnings”

In September 2018, I was thinking deeply about the sombre nature of the ongoing destructive fissures and disjunctures that seemed to proliferate in CanLit (for some history on this issue, read Alicia Elliott‘s brilliant piece, CanLit is a Raging Dumpster Fire, on OpenBook). I was dimly recognizing that there were very few places available for authors to speak about the nests of care that writers create and offer one another.

Inspired in part by the mentoring I had received over the years as an academic, I wanted to create a show where I mapped out communities of support to show how writers are nurtured.

That was when Acknowledgements was born.

I’ve always been fascinated by acknowledgements. Maybe you are too. It’s one of the first places I turn in a book. The acknowledgements pages tell a story behind the story. They tell us about the relationships of care that sustain a writer. I found them to be a kind of legend to the map in front of me – the book.

Over the course of my three years on the show as I prepped for interview after interview with acclaimed Canadian novelists, I began to see overlap in the names listed on the last few pages of several books. I wondered how I could bring those stories to radio and map out those stories that seemed to be untold.

The premise of Acknowledgements is pretty simple. I interview an author, and after a few minutes, I turn to that author’s acknowledgement page. I ask why a certain person was acknowledged. Then that person is invited into the conversation. A trio emerges – we talk about how they met, and how that person contributed to the book.

My very first interview for “Acknowledgements” came courtesy of Carol Off, host of CBC’s “As it Happens” and author of the memoir, “All We Leave Behind.” I had worked for Carol back when I was a researcher at the CBC, and she generously offered to come into the studio for a feature interview with the person she acknowledges in her book: Naomi Duguid, a cookbook writer and travel enthusiast.

A few of the Acknowledgements interviews are shared below. To hear all of the interviews, Sense of Place and Acknowledgements, please click here.

Elan Mastai (an Acknowledgements interview) – April 15, 2018






Carys Cragg (an Acknowledgements interview) – April 14, 2018







Jessica J Lee (an Acknowledgements interview) – February 17, 2018