Scoop & Scandal

I cut my hair during the pandemic. So, if I’m meeting you for the first time, I no longer look like my old bio photos or my cartoon either. I also don’t look like my passport photo – to the point that on a domestic flight recently, airline personnel stopped me at the gate before boarding to address that I do not not look like the photo on my ID (any of my ID). I countered, “Wouldn’t a faker try to look more like the image in the passport?” The passport office in Canada, however, won’t give me a new one. My fingers are crossed that the customs agents in Panama (in a couple weeks) let me into the country.

I’m the author of Lost in Moscow (published by Turnstone Press in Canada) which CBC radio dubbed “the ultimate what-I-did-last-summer essay ever.” And I was the anthology editor of the Travelers’ Tales (USA) book Wake Up and Smell the Shit. I’ve had around 85 stories (plus my photos) published in books, magazines, and newspapers around the world.


Prepare to Write Dangerously

I have been hired by The Writers’ Community of York Region (Newmarket, Ontario) to host a workshop (which is being offered to participants for free). If you are interested, you do need to register, though, as seating is limited. (CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS OR TO SIGN UP).

Also, for anyone in the Greater Toronto Area and beyond, who is interested in joining one of my writing workshops abroad, this is a great opportunity to get a taste for one of my writing adventures, in a three-hour binge-writing gulp.

So, leave your safety nets at home and prepare to write dangerously. We’ll be employing techniques used by method actors on stage, except we’ll be using our pens on the page, in a creative exploration of making nonfiction read like fiction. You’ll be improvising through genres to find the most exciting way to present the truth and your lead character—you. You don’t have to go on an adventure to take your readers on an action-packed head trip, and during this workshop we’ll delve into those head trips.

WCYR get creative with nonfiction


I was interviewed by Dave Fox on The Globejotting Travel Show Expat Radio (France) about hunting for the skeletal remains of ships in the desert (that used to be the Aral Sea) in Kazakhstan. I also raved about salad in Kazakhstan (I don’t normally rave about salad anywhere – it bordered on psychotic raving, but they really do have fabulous salads in Kazakhstan). On the same trip I also got to do one of my favourite things on the planet – photograph kok-boru in Kyrgyzstan, again. That’s the nomad horse game which is a bit like rugby on horseback except they play with a decapitated goat instead of a ball. You can listen to the audio from the show from the host’s website by clicking on the audio link there, plus he has more of my pics and other info in his show notes (CLICK HERE TO LOOK OR LISTEN).

On a ship's deck in the desert of Kazakhstan, formerly the Aral Sea (Photo by Kirsten Koza)
On a ship’s deck in the desert of Kazakhstan, formerly the Aral Sea (Photo by Kirsten Koza)

Kok-boru in Kyrgyzstan (Photo by Kirsten Koza)
Kok-boru in Kyrgyzstan (Photo by Kirsten Koza)


In a land where the Catholic conquistadors conquered and subjugated the native Incas, a small band of Peruvian neo-Nazis have found a way to blame all their troubles on the Jews.

The weirdness started when I ordered the wrong soup in Nazca, Peru. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, except that every two or three years I fly all the way from Toronto to Lima and then rent a 4×4 at the airport to drive to Nazca for a bowl of parihuela at La Encantada. I always tell people that I’m going to Peru for other reasons, for example, this time, the reason was to mountain bike down a 19,872-foot ultra volcano… Click this link to read my full story which was published in Perceptive Travel Magazine.

An accidental backwards swastika, or... (Photo taken by Kirsten Koza in Huambo's bullring, Colca Canyon, Peru)
An accidental backwards swastika, or… (Photo taken by Kirsten Koza in Huambo’s bullring, Colca Canyon, Peru)

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