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The Hummingbird Podcast

The Hummingbird Podcast

By Catherine Graham and Jessica Outram
Two friends linger in conversation about things at the centre of their creative work: identity (Celtic and Métis), healing and wellness, the spirit of place, and the pull of mystery. Catherine Graham is an award-winning writer and creative writing teacher living in Toronto. Jessica Outram is a Métis writer and educator, Poet Laureate of Cobourg, and a system Principal of Program: Indigenous Education K-12.

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Reflecting on Austin Kleon's Steal Like an Artist

The Hummingbird Podcast

Omit Needless Words
In this last episode of our season we explore the writing rule omit needless words. Jessica talks about revision through the four seasons of story. We chat about the importance of listening to the work, allowing for discovery through play, trusting our gut reaction and following our instincts. Also, Julia Child, dreams, Seamus Heaney and what leads us to this: who I am as a writer. All this and more.
May 15, 2022
What Branches Above Us and Spreads Below
What branches above us and spreads below: How two poets connect with the oak tree. Catherine shares the story behind her poem “Oak” from The Celery Forest and Jessica shares the story behind her poem “On Being a Tree” from The Thing with Feathers. We talk about the thin line between the living and dead, dreams, ancestors, mothers, air-dancing and what it is to be inside a song.
May 08, 2022
Hidden Passages & the Energizing Spin of Spring
Circles, beginnings, awakenings and bursts. Catherine reads her poem “Chthonic” from Her Red Hair Rises with the Wings of Insects. We explore a poem’s soundscape and how poems communicate with each other. Catherine talks about how the colour red is key to her work and Jessica talks about how ideas move towards us or away from us to find a home. We explore cycles and season and what thoughts are with us when we’re writing. Also process as art and writing by hand.
May 01, 2022
The Otherworldly
The Otherworldly: The ease and unease embedded in transformation. We explore fairy trees, the wee folk, thorns, blooms and portals. Also, secret gardens, hums and hummingbirds and the real estate of the poet. Catherine reads an excerpt from her second novel, The Most Cunning Heart, and Jessica reads her poem “If She Had a Secret Garden” from The Thing with Feathers. What is it to travel further into the self? Plus connections, relationships and how stories help us to see and be seen.
April 24, 2022
The Between
The Between: from writing to publishing to letting the book go. We talk about good questions to ask an author, energetic tendrils and the intimacy of the first person. Catherine reads an excerpt from her second novel, The Most Cunning Heart and Jessica talks about her first poetry book, The Thing with Feathers.
April 17, 2022
Turning Inward
How does poetry transport us to other places? We explore inwardness through Gwendolyn MacEwen’s poems “Dark Pines Under Water” and “Invocations” and talk about how poems are vessels for holding mysteries and untold stories. We share the impact MacEwen’s poetry has had on our creative journeys, outer/inner worlds, what’s creepy and/or triggering, and how what we’re called to share comes through a full body response. Tom Thompson, discomfort, calling the voice up—all this and more.
April 10, 2022
Looping Back to Begin
Celery trees, human-watchers—we start with Catherine’s poem “What Birds They Were” and explore other eerie things. Then we explore about how it is we find our way through poetry to link the real and the unreal. We chat about the impact art galleries have had on our creative process— where life and art intersect—and how what inspires us has its own time line to surface. This was the case for Jessica’s forthcoming book, Bernice and the Georgian Bay Gold.
April 03, 2022
How Birds Inspire Us and Fly Into Our Work
We talk about the connection between birds and poetic process. Catherine shares her poem “The Lifting” along with its backstory. Jessica shares the Christi Belcourt poem “In Neither Hope Nor Despair, Birds Fly.” We talk about how poetry invites us into a pause and takes us to profound places. We finish with Catherine’s bird poem “What Birds They Were” from The Celery Forest. Through air and motion, we take flight!
March 27, 2022
Dwelling in Possibility
What holds the lessons we’ve learned over the years, what reaches out—a call to action or a pause—the path to possibility continues. We explore Emily Dickinson’s “I Dwell in Possibility” and Jessica shares her poem “When She Found Her Voice.” We chat about signs, connections, portals and encounters.
March 20, 2022
Called Into a Crowd of Feathers: Omen/Gift
In this episode we talk about the challenges of balancing work and life and creative projects, the value of signs and what seeps into our skin. Catherine shares an excerpt from Æther: An Out-of-Body Lyric and Jessica shares a powerful dream. We explore synchronicity, mystery and the energy in the unexplainable.
March 13, 2022
Season Change and Worry Dollls
“As if the top of my head were taken off,” writes Emily Dickinson when it comes to knowing poetry. In this episode we talk about how poetry is tied to the body. Jessica reads her poem “Season Change” and Catherine reads her poem “Worry Dolls.” We talk about perception, alignment of energies and how inanimate objects “speak” to us if we listen.
March 06, 2022
Continuing the Conversation: Poems that Inspire Other Poems
We talk about Catherine’s poem “Peas & Barbies” from Her Red Hair Rises with the Wings of Insects and the impact of Dorothy Molloy. We also discuss the glosa, deconstructed glosa, peas, rules and breaking rules and how we naturally link our own lived experience when reading poems. All this and we talk about “choir peas” too.
February 27, 2022
Poems: A Place to Find Ourselves In
Poems are a place to find ourselves in. We talk about when to read poems and when not to read poems. Jessica shares her Emily Dickinson inspired poem “The Thing with Feathers” and Catherine reads her Tilda Swinton inspired poem “The Buried.” We chat about poetry and perception, pivot points, portals, P.K. Page and much more. Join us!
February 20, 2022
New Maps in Old Waters: Poetry & Place
We get to know more about co-host Jessica’s creative journey through her connection to place, how the town of Britt (on Georgian Bay) serves her imagination, her sense of belonging and signals: home. Join us as we explore how the past and present meet.
February 13, 2022
Dive In: A Creative Journey
We get to know our new co-host and her creative journey through listening to her poetry. Catherine shares the story behind her writing, shining a light on the themes, people, and places that inspire her work. She explains why the last line of her poem 'Back to the Quarry' became the first line of her novel 'Quarry.' Join us as we spend time exploring how the quarry reveals so much about her process and her projects. "Dive in. Turn to water before it freezes." 
February 06, 2022
How Hummingbirds Inspire Two Poets
Catherine Graham joins as the new co-host on The Hummingbird Podcast team with Jessica Outram.  We begin with hummingbirds. How do they inspire us? What can we learn from them? How are hummingbirds like our creative work? We chat about some of the themes we will explore this season. (And we are mostly just super excited to chat together!)
February 06, 2022
Celebration: Teachings to Free the Creative Spirit
The topic of our final episode for Season 2 seems fitting - Celebration. We talk about what celebration means to us. What are the different aspects of celebration? How does it affect the way we view our creative work? How do we connect and celebrate?  Listen in as we unravel the next layer of the creative process: celebration.
December 05, 2021
Social Media for Creatives
Do you have questions about how to use social media effectively? For our monthly business episode we invited social media expert Rachel Spence in to share her knowledge and expertise. We had lots of questions and made lots of notes so fair warning, have paper and pen near by. Rachel will tell you how to be more effective and reach more people in an authentic, meaningful way. 
November 28, 2021
Work and Play: Teachings to Free the Creative Spirit
We are coming to the end of our book study soon. Two more chapters. Today we continue our book study with ‘Learning by Heart: Teachings to Free the Creative Spirit’ by Corita Kent and Jan Steward. Last time we talked about versatility and possibility when choosing tools and techniques. In this episode we unravel the next layer of the creative process: the relationship between play and work, or as they note in this chapter, Plork. Shannon Linton joins us. She is a singer-song writer, choral conductor, and music teacher. She is a Hummingbird listener too.
November 21, 2021
Tools and Techniques: Teachings to Free the Creative Spirit
We continue our book study with ‘Learning by Heart: Teachings to Free the Creative Spirit’ by Corita Kent and Jan Steward. We’ve been talking about the energy of connect and create. Today we look at another big part of the creative process: Tools and Techniques. We also welcome Choral Conductor and Music Teacher Marie Anderson to the conversation. This is where we get into craft but where we go may surprise you. 
November 14, 2021
Connect and Create: Teachings to Free the Creative Spirit
Today we continue our book study with ‘Learning by Heart: Teachings to Free the Creative Spirit’ by Corita Kent and Jan Steward. We’ve been talking about sources and structures.  Today we look at another big part of the creative process: Connect & Create. These two words summarize everything. In this episode we connected with guests Jennifer Trefiak and Jenni Burke and created something we feel is pretty special. Have a listen and enjoy the journey with us. 
November 07, 2021
Money and Emotion: The Business of Art and Writing
Today we continue our monthly focus on Business for Creatives and look at Money & Emotion with Joan Sotkin. How do you feel about money in your creative business? You may want to look deeper because, as Joan says, "It's never about the money." This episode is a bit of a departure from our normal format in that we mostly sat back and let our guest share her wisdom. And we barely scratched the surface. Check the show notes on our website if you'd like to learn more. 
October 31, 2021
Structure: Teachings to Free the Creative Spirit
We continue our book study with ‘Learning by Heart: Teachings to Free the Creative Spirit’ by Corita Kent and Jan Steward. Last week we looked at Sources and talked about how everything is a source. There is great freedom in that. When we look at everything as a source, sometimes it’s hard to choose which direction to take, which idea to follow. This week we look at Structure. Structure helps us to focus. Structure is something that can drive the work, shape the project, AND structure is something that can drive us and shape our process.
October 24, 2021
Sources: Teachings to Free the Creative Spirit
In this episode we explore the idea of sources. How do you gather and use sources in your creative work? What or who inspires you? We continue to explore the ideas in our book study to expand what's possible in our projects. “Working from a source is not the same thing as copying. The work is yours only--drawn from your experience and coloured by your perceptions. The source frees us to depart from something rather than from nothing or everything. We do not seek to duplicate the source, but to use it as a reference. It relieves us of thinking we have to make something new or great (a scary idea). We will make something new when we work at the source with our mind and leave our hands and pen (stick, chopstick, pencil, etc…) free to get on with the job of drawing (painting, building, etc…).” p. 47, Learning By Heart: Teachings to Free the Creative Spirit by Corita Kent and Jan Steward
October 17, 2021
Looking: Teachings to Free the Creative Spirit
In this episode we talk about Chapter 2 in Learning by Heart: Looking.  Nurturing and developing ways of seeing is one of the most important practices any artist or writer can engage in.
October 10, 2021
Beginnings: Teachings to Free the Creative Spirit
In this episode we begin a deep dive into ‘Learning by Heart: Teachings to Free the Creative Spirit” by Corita Kent and Jan Steward. Each week we integrate the ideas into our practice and talk about how it goes, one chapter at a time. We hope you'll join our Facebook Community "Hummingbird Podcast Community" where we can continue the discussion and share the learnings with each other. 
October 03, 2021
Branding for Creatives: The Business of Art and Writing
How do I develop a brand for myself in a way that feels authentic and not like I’m trying too hard or misrepresenting? Our guest, Julia Archer answers this question and quite a bit more in our monthly focus on building a creative business.  Branding isn't just for the big corporations. As a creative business, it will help you stand out in the crowd, establish trust and attract your audience. 
September 26, 2021
Creativity and Resilience
What is the relationship between our creativity and our resilience? How can a sense of meaning help in difficult times to nurture our creativity and how can our creativity help us get through difficult times? In our last episode we talked about creativity and wellness. Here we go deeper into some questions we have about resilience and how creativity can help to add meaning into our lives. Visit for more details.
September 19, 2021
How Does Creativity Impact Our Health?
There are so many health benefits to being consciously creative, not the least of which is healing - both mentally and physically. For some, COVID shone a spotlight on the healing benefits of creativity. Many creatives have turned to creating in times of stress and know the true impact of creativity from personal or community experiences. In this episode, we discuss some of the research behind leading a more creative life and its impact on our well-being. What is the link between wellness and creativity?  For more details and our playlist visit:
September 12, 2021
What We Did On Our (Creative) Summer Vacation
We’ve missed you! We’ve missed each other. We begin Season 2 by catching up just like we did as kids in September by asking "What did you do on your summer vacation?"  What was easy? What was harder? Were you able to connect with other creatives? Join us we launch Season 2! For more details visit:
September 05, 2021
Marketing and Story: The Business of Art and Writing
This week we do something a little different as Aprille guides Jessica through the art of creating a story about her business that invites people to be part of the story. We explain why story is so powerful, how to build trust relationships with your customers and other ways to use story as a business tool. 
July 02, 2021
Reflecting on Julia Cameron's "The Artist's Way"
This book has been a major influence in our creative journeys and we wanted to share it with you, both the book and the journey. We talk about how this book changed us creatively and some of the concepts and core truths that stand out for us.  We'd love to hear from you, too. Leave us a message and share your experience with The Artist's Way or tell us about another book that had a major impact on you.
June 20, 2021
How Can We Use Metaphor to Better Understand Our Creative Practice?
In this episode we look at creativity and process through the lens of metaphor. Using quotations, we explore how metaphor can enrich our creative process and projects looking at some big questions. How can metaphors inspire how we create? How can artists and writers use metaphor to make something new? Metaphor can help us to go deeper and understand our own creative process in simple but powerful ways. You'll even hear a few "aha's" that Aprille and Jessica experience as they discuss this topic.  Visit for show notes.
June 13, 2021
How Can We Use the Power of Story in our Arts?
How can we use story and story structure in our arts? In this episode we explore this big question by looking at through the lens of Pixar's 'rules' for great storytelling. We realize that story connects to all aspects of our creativity during the process and in the product. Aprille shares how she uses story to inspire her artwork and Jessica shares how she uses story to prepare a song for performance. Visit for show notes.
June 06, 2021
How Do You Build An Audience For Your Creative Work?
We create by making connections and to connect to other people. If we change the business word "marketing" to "connection" it becomes less overwhelming. In this episode we talk about what it means to connect to your audience and how it fits into a creative practice.  Visit for show notes.
May 30, 2021
Creative Genealogy
What can we learn from those who inspire us? Then what happens when we take it a step further by looking at who inspired them? Climb your creative family tree and see who's hanging out in the branches. You might be surprised. In this episode, we explore this idea from Austin Kleon's book 'Steal Like an Artist.' We talk about who inspires us and then who inspired them. This is an invitation for you to look at your own creative genealogy.  Visit for show notes.
May 23, 2021
Reflecting on Austin Kleon's Steal Like an Artist
We had so much fun talking about the ideas in Austin Kleon's book 'Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative.' From our first impressions to a detailed discussion of each big idea, we 'steal' what we can to refine our creative processes.  Warning: Don't read this book unless you're prepared to be inspired. Visit for show notes.
May 16, 2021
What Inspires Your Creativity?
What people, places, arts, and things inspire you? What is the magic that happens when we let it get personal? What are some examples of our work and what inspired it? Join us as we reflect on inspiration, the source of ideas, and creative process. Aprille reflects on a fabric piece she is working on that started as a test piece. Jessica reflects on writing and staging a play inspired by the women in her family.  Visit for show notes.
May 09, 2021
Where to Start: The Business of Art and Writing
In this episode we begin a regular feature of chatting about creativity and business. Do you want to turn your passion for arts into full-time work? Have you wondered about were to start in creating a business or selling your work? We explore some practical first steps and next steps. From generating new ideas to building a plan, we explore ways to expand your dreams then bring them to life. Visit for show notes.
May 02, 2021
What Are Some Ways To Build Creative Confidence?
In this episode we respond to David Kelly's TED Talk "How to Build Your Creative Confidence." We explore his big ideas including: fear of judgement, guided mastery, empathy, and then the importance of regaining lost creative confidence. Creativity and innovation touch every area of our lives. From reflecting on innovation in medicine and education to our own personal creative journeys, we explore ways that we can build on small success to reach our creative goals. Visit for show notes.
April 25, 2021
Learning by Heart Book Reflection Part 2: Teachings to Free the Creative Spirit
We continue the conversation about the influence of Corita Kent on students and teachers of creativity. What can we learn about sources and ways to play in the arts? How does "Learning by Heart: Teachings to Free the Creative Spirit” by Corita Kent and Jan Steward inspire us? We explore a chapter at a time, unpacking some of the big ideas and how we can use them to free our creative spirits. Visit for show notes.
April 18, 2021
Learning By Heart Book Reflection Part 1: Teachings to Free the Creative Spirit
This episode is our first Creativity Profile with a focus on Corita Kent. We discuss the 10 Rules for the Immaculate Heart College Art Department through the lenses of a student of creativity and a teacher of creativity. We explore the big ideas of trust, play, and learning, looking at each rule one at a time. This is the first of two episodes that focus on what we have learned from "Learning by Heart: Teachings to Free the Creative Spirit" by Corita Kent and Jan Steward. Visit for show notes.
April 11, 2021
How Can Fear Impact Creativity?
Creativity and Fear In this episode, we begin the conversation about creativity and fear. Why does creativity make us fearful sometimes? How can fear help our creative work? What are some strategies for overcoming our fears to be able to create? From looking at the use of the word 'creativity' through time to discussing ideas from Elizabeth Gilbert's book "Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear" we help each other navigate the shadow side of our relationship with creativity. Visit for show notes.
April 04, 2021
How Does Nature Inspire Creativity?
Nature provides an abundance of sources for creative connections and expression. How does nature inspire you? In this episode we explore ways we learn from nature and create inspired by places we love. We talk about some creatives that have used nature in their work, from Antoni Gaudi in Spain to R. Murray Schafer in Canada, we share some people we admire that use nature in interesting ways. Finally, we talk about some ways you can begin to connect nature to your creative work today. Visit for show notes.
March 28, 2021
What Are Some Ways For Staying Creative?
Where do you create? What are the conditions for creativity? In this episode we discuss every day places and routines to nurture creativity. We wanted to explore ways to sustain creativity over time. From reflecting on how to prioritize our creative work to discussing ways to transition between life and creativity, we share some practical tips that work for us. How do you use the arts to practice and engage in a creative process?  Visit for show notes.
March 21, 2021
How Do Joy and Creativity Connect?
This week we explore the idea of joy and its link to creativity. What makes your face light up? Join us as we discuss everything from the way creative activities can spark joy to what we can learn from the hummingbird about joy. For this conversation, we even invited some friends to share their ideas about what brings them joy. What does joy mean to you? Visit for show notes.
March 13, 2021
How Do We Know Everyone is Creative?
Everyone is creative but we all express that creativity differently. Are some people more creative than others? In this episode, we explore some research on creativity and share some examples of how people we know show their creativity.  Visit for show notes.
March 06, 2021
What is Creativity?
How do you define creativity? Is it only for the 'artsy' types or are there other aspects that should be considered? How is courage related to being creative?  We have some ideas we want to share with you so listen in on our conversation.  Visit for show notes.
March 03, 2021
The Hummingbird Journey Begins
Jessica Outram and Aprille Janes introduce Hummingbird, Conversations about Creativity.  In this episode, we talk about who we are and why we started this podcast. The hummingbird is a symbol of creativity and joy. The last year hasn't been easy and we want to go on a journey through conversation to explore our questions about creative living. Our wish is that you join us each week and even take part in the conversation by leaving us comments on an episode's topic and questions you'd like us to explore in a future episode.  Visit for show notes.
February 28, 2021