Terese Marie Mailhot

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Terese Marie Mailhot
Born (1983-06-14) 14 June 1983 (age 36)
EducationNew Mexico State University
Institute of American Indian Arts
Purdue University
Years active2015-present
SpouseCasey Gray

Terese Marie Mailhot (born 15 June 1983) is a First Nation Canadian writer, journalist, memoirist, and teacher.[1][2]

Early life and education[edit]

Mailhot grew up in Seabird Island, British Columbia, on the Seabird Island First Nation reservation. Her mother, Wahzinak, was a healer, social worker, poet, and radical activist, and her father, Ken Mailhot, was an artist.[3] Her father had been incarcerated and was an alcoholic who molested Mailhot when she was young, and was often violent.[4] Mailhot's mother had a letter-writing relationship with Salvador Agron, and shared the correspondence with musician Paul Simon, who used them for his Broadway musical, The Capeman. The role of Wahzinak was portrayed by Sara Ramirez in the musical.[5] She is one of four children.[6] As a child Mailhot had tuberculosis.[7] She was in foster care periodically and eventually aged out of the system.

Mailhot's background is Nlaka'pamux, part of the indigenous First Nations people of the Interior Salish language group in southern British Columbia.[3] Her maternal grandmother, who she was close to, was raised in the brutal Canadian Indian residential school system.[8]

Mailhot got her GED and attended community college. Mailhot graduated with a bachelor's degree in English from New Mexico State University. In 2016, Mailhot received an MFA in fiction from the Institute of American Indian Arts.[6][9]


Mailhot was a columnist at Indian Country Today[10] and was Saturday Editor at The Rumpus.[11] She taught English and composition at Dona Ana Community College in Las Cruces, New Mexico.[12]

In 2017, Mailhot became a post-doctoral fellow at the English Department at Purdue University, where she works with the Native American Educational and Cultural Center.[12] Roxane Gay is a colleague there.[6] Mailhot is also a professor at the Institute of American Indian Arts.[9][13]

In 2018, Mailhot released her debut book, Heart Berries: A Memoir.[14] Heart Berries deals with sexual abuse, trauma, violence, substance abuse, going hungry, being poor, and neglect. Mailhot has said she sees her journey as being one that reflects intergenerational trauma and genocide. She uses the term "Indian sick" to describe the idea of cleansing the heart and mind in a spiritual process, which is how her community often processes these experiences.[15] The title Heart Berries comes from a story about the healer O’dimin, the Heart Berry Boy, that an Ojibwe friend who is a language teacher told her.[16] The book received overwhelmingly positive reviews in both popular and specialist sources.[17][18] In March 2018, actress Emma Watson chose Mailhot's book as one of the monthly selections for her book club on Goodreads.[19] Heart Berries is a New York Times bestseller.[20]

Mailhot began writing her memoir while she was institutionalized in a mental institution.[8][21] Mailhot had committed herself after having a mental breakdown related to dealing with childhood sexual abuse by her father.[14] The book consists of many essays that Mailhot wrote during her MFA program.[2] Some of the book is written from Mailhot to her partner, Casey Gray, using an epistolary approach to reflecting on memories of the past.[15]

Personal life[edit]

Mailhot has discussed that she suffers from both post-traumatic stress disorder and bipolar II disorder.[22]

Mailhot was married as a teenager and has had three children.[23]

Mailhot is married to the writer Casey Gray.[24]


  • 2015: Southwestern Association for Indian Arts (SWAIA), Discovery Fellowship[25][26]
  • 2016: Vermont Studio Center, VSC/Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) Creative Writing Fellowship[27]
  • Writing by Writers, Fellowship
  • Elk Writer's Workshop, Fellowship
  • 2017: Purdue University, Tecumseh Postdoctoral Fellow[12]

Selected works and publications[edit]

Selected publications[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sehgal, Parul (30 January 2018). "'Heart Berries' Shatters a Pattern of Silence". The New York Times.
  2. ^ a b Naimon, David; Mailhot, Terese Marie (13 February 2018). "Episode 104: Terese Marie Mailhot: Heart Berries" (Podcast interview). Between The Covers. Portland, OR: KBOO.
  3. ^ a b Mailhot, Terese Marie (2 February 2016). "Nlaka'pamux, Immediately". The James Franco Review.
  4. ^ Mailhot, Terese (4 August 2017). "Terese Mailhot" (Video reading). Fall 2017 IAIA Low Rez MFA Residency.
  5. ^ Mailhot, Terese Marie (2016). "Paul Simon Money". Transmotion. University of Kent. 2 (1&2): 131–135.
  6. ^ a b c Petersen, Anne Helen (22 February 2018). "These Writers Are Launching A New Wave Of Native American Literature". BuzzFeed.
  7. ^ Gonzales, Matthew (1 February 2018). "Q&A: Terese Marie Mailhot, Purdue's Latest Writer Poised For Fame". Indianapolis Monthly.
  8. ^ a b Garcia-Navarro, Lulu (11 February 2018). "In 'Heart Berries,' An Indigenous Woman's Chaotic Coming-Of-Age" (Audio interview includes article). Weekend Edition Saturday. NPR.
  9. ^ a b Orange, Tommy; Mailhot, Terese Marie (1 February 2018). "IAIA MFA Program—Terese Marie Mailhot and Tommy Orange" (Video interview). Institute of American Indian Arts.
  10. ^ "Terese Marie Mailhot - Indian Country Media Network". Indian Country Today. Retrieved 19 March 2018.
  11. ^ Siegel, Marisa (21 February 2018). "The Rumpus Book Club Chat with Terese Mailhot". The Rumpus.
  12. ^ a b c Doty, Tim (14 August 2017). "Native American postdoctoral fellows announced for 2017" (Press release). Purdue University.
  13. ^ "Low Residency MFA in Creative Writing". Institute of American Indian Arts. Retrieved 19 March 2018.
  14. ^ a b Mailhot, Terese Marie; Noah, Trevor (7 March 2018). "Terese Marie Mailhot - Sharing an Indigenous Voice in "Heart Berries" (Video Clip)" (Video interview). The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. Comedy Central.
  15. ^ a b Castenada, Vera (1 June 2018). "The art of a revealing memoir: Terese Marie Mailhot and 'Heart Berries'". Los Angeles Times.
  16. ^ Bangert, Dave (2 February 2018). "Q&A: Terese Marie Mailhot on tough new memoir, being a native voice at Purdue". Journal & Courier.
  17. ^ Rooney, Kathleen (2 February 2018). "Review: 'Heart Berries' — Terese Marie Mailhot's searing memoir of Native American experience". Chicago Tribune.
  18. ^ Mackay, James (Fall 2018). ""Review: Heart Berries"". Transmotion. 4 (2): 222–224. Retrieved 8 January 2019.
  19. ^ Watson, Emma (6 March 2018). "March/April book! Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot". Goodreads.
  20. ^ Banger, Dave (23 March 2018). "Bangert: Terese Mailhot makes best-seller list, second Purdue author to do it in past year". Journal & Courier.
  21. ^ Fassler, Joe (14 February 2018). "The Necessity of 'Willful Blindness' in Writing". The Atlantic.
  22. ^ Chung, Nicole (6 February 2018). "Author Terese Marie Mailhot on Creating Art From Grief". Shondaland.
  23. ^ "Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot". Kirkus Reviews. 12 November 2017.
  24. ^ Carter, Sue (16 March 2018). "Terese Marie Mailhot: 'Even if everything is stripped from me I still have my voice'". Toronto Star.
  25. ^ Rubinstein, Audrey Nadia (29 June 2015). "SWAIA Announces Annual Fellowship Winners" (Press release). The Southwestern Association for Indian Arts (SWAIA).
  26. ^ Roberts, Kathaleen (16 August 2015). "Local artist wins residency fellowship at Santa Fe Art Institute". Albuquerque Journal.
  27. ^ "Fellowships: Terese Mailhot, Non-fiction, NM". Vermont Studio Center. 15 June 2016.

External links[edit]