The Skaha essay series is finally a book!

skaha cover image


After having a spinal injury rebuilt in titanium, the author negotiates a tough rehab – and remaining disabilities – by setting big goals: first to swim a mile race in Boston Harbor at six months, then to complete the Skaha Ultra Distance 11.8K lake swim in British Columbia at 17 months post-op. Literary sports writing constructed of hybrid essays, and also medical/disability memoir, SKAHA explores what mettle/metal really means in this our embodied condition.

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Skaha reader responses

“I read Smyth’s new book — about her spine injury, surgery, recovery, aftermath, immune crash, covid, and, oh yeah, swimming eight miles through wildfire smoke at Skaha — in the bath because she is a swimmer and I am a swimmer and it seemed wrong to do so out of water. It was a harrowing journey to follow along in real time … to see it all compressed so lyrically and viscerally was gutting and also reverberated into a sort of renewed fierce determination toward my own life. More resurrections than most would be willing to bear. I don’t know how to recommend this book to you, except that it is beautiful and awful in the old way; there is awe running all through it, the kind of awe that stands back-to-back with terror, with joy at its feet.”

 Caitlin Gildrien

“I recently read this incredible, beautiful, moving work by Jessamyn Smyth. There’s way too much here to touch on … so suffice it to say: if reading something that encapsulates the potential richness of the human experience in all its darkness and light interests you, well, you should probably read this book she wrote. Artists don’t owe anyone anything but she gives and gives and gives with this. After you read it, maybe go for a swim.”

Reen Mar Eis


Because digital art is an integral part of what went into the series, print costs are higher than for text alone: I made this book available directly through a Print On Demand (POD) publisher as a result, to make it more accessible to readers. POD books are only printed when you buy them, which means no warehousing or ‘unsold’ costs to the publisher – it’s often too expensive for a small press to make image-intensive books, so hooray for Lulu. They do a great job.

There are two options:

SKAHA – softcover edition, on high quality paper (16$USD)

SKAHA – hardcover collector’s edition! on highest quality paper (55$USD)


Enjoy, and may this work literally en-courage you in whatever impossibilities you eat for breakfast.

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alice lake 8 8 2018 pre skaha by Kai

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