poem: Every Summer

The very middle of summer means
turning the calendar and being delighted
by a new painting but pained by
an equal loss.

It is opening the fridge and discovering
half of a watermelon.

If you knew you had half your life left
you might cry, then breathe – realizing
that is so much to live – then cry again
for only infinity would be too long.

On this day I made a mindfulness list,
which is, from what I have understood:
all things you’ve done which have kept you
sane at melting point.

For me and maybe you it was
biking with the wind,
worshiping a new song,
realizing this argument reached the bottom,
installing a bug net and opening the window as wide
as the hinges would allow.

The list was important to me this day,
because I spent the other hours
working and not thinking
thinking and not working
so ravaged by all the time lost sulking on my bed
cursing the world which outstretched its arms to me.

The list grew and became a bounty of words
that made me feel large. Made me stop
counting for symmetry.
Sure, the feeling was more of an enforcement.
But I think I was happy by morning,
wondering if I could ever just live one day
like it was the only life I would receive.

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St. John’s, Newfoundland

This May long weekend my family and I travelled to St John’s, Newfoundland, for my brother’s sixth Canadian Chess Challenge. To prepare for this trip, I sought out novels and poetry written about this Easterly-most province. Ultimately, I brought with me E.J. Pratt’s Collected Poems and Sweetland by Michael Crummey. It was my first time pairing my trip with regionally-connected literary works, and perhaps it said something about the way I wanted to understand Newfoundland – in an authentic but also imaginative way. This four-day trip would allow me to slip out of my routine world, and into one where I could actively suspend my disbelief.

As I walked from Memorial University to downtown during my first morning, I was mesmerized by the hills running through this city. They seemed to provide a rugged mirror effect to the land – people’s lives directly and remotely facing each other. Then, when I spotted the colourful fishermen’s row houses, I was delighted and surprised. Somehow, from all the information I searched about Newfoundland, these iconic houses did not come across my results.

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Like the houses and the hills, the quietness of the city calmly stunned me. Maybe it was because it was a Sunday on a long weekend, the peacefulness carrying to even the heart of downtown. There were cars and there were some people, but the overall sound didn’t seem to amplify or echo. It was as if the ocean, which bordered so closely, provided a semi-vacuum for sound not to vanish, but exist quietly with us. Continue reading “St. John’s, Newfoundland”

(re)april2018

1. Royal Ontario Museum with Sana
2. Trinity Review 130 Launch at 187 Augusta
3. Painting in ES1015
4. Allan Conservatory Gardens with Emily

(1) FAVOURITE…

Song 
Kept It All to Myself by The Weather Station (2017)
The Weather Station is the music project of Toronto songwriter Tamara Lindeman, and for the month of April her songs have gifted me a private understanding that has helped me move through my days with more assurance and spirit. “Kept It All to Myself” sparks with insight and moves sharply, swiftly, like in its own perfected orbit: “There were days when the luminescence of the skies or the deep brown grasses struck me so hard in the early evening—I can hardly take it, that light feeling.” Her songs exist with such a strong companionship between the words, phrasing, rhythm and melody that they resemble as much of a natural phenomenon as a creative achievement.
Honourable mention: I Mined by The Weather Station (2015)
I swear I did listen to other artists in April, but I couldn’t just pick one The Weather Station song. “I Mined” is from her third album, Loyalty, which is generally a lot softer than her latest album (which “Kept It All to Myself” is pulled from). My favourite part is the humming motif that provides a unifying tenderness to the song.

Instagram Account
@pentagramdesign
If you have any interest in aestheticism you will love Pentagram, the “world’s largest independently-owned design studio”¹. I was first drawn to their account after reading about their re-design of The University of Sussex’s visual identity, whose success led to a “25% increase in undergraduates coming to Sussex”². The act of the transformation is often more satisfying than the result, and Pentagram consistently offers transparent explanations of their reasoning in all re-desings.

Poem
“Honeydew” by Jonah Yano (2018)
This year I was an assistant editor for The Trinity Review and so I wanted to share a poem from our spring issue that spoke to me immediately. What I love about this poem is the tiny expansion that we feel in the second stanza, as the attention shifts from just “you” to also “anyone”. There is a quiet confusion that somehow still contains a clarity for detail (white leather suitcases, heads of trophies, etc) – and in this way we feel closer to the speaker’s genuineness.

this will be the first time i write about
you for the second time
and i’m not really sure what moves you
but there are many instances of your reminder
like white leather suitcases and
the heads of trophies and
xylophones and tragedy

tragedy because i can’t quite sort what it is
about you or anyone that makes me
consider anything at all
while all the while still standing still
and smiling
when you make me

Continue reading “(re)april2018”

poem for liability (i)

I am currently trudging through an unfortunate situation whose emotional weight will dissipate sooner or later. As I move forward, I would like to both honour the intensity I felt in the present moment while realizing that the solution lies in creating a more mature storyline from diluted feelings (time is the strongest water).

This post is to necessitate me to write a follow-up post, at a hopeful time where I will have reasonably resolved the inner and outwards tensions that have made up this conflict. I don’t know if doing this on a public platform is the most honourable method to try to navigate my feelings and morals (although honestly, how many people even read my blog) but presently it is what feels right and what feels could be the most emotionally stable/constructive way.

And so, here is part i… Continue reading “poem for liability (i)”

(re)march2018

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  1. Grange Park
  2. Sabrina Bilic, Self Portrait Bust (2017)

(1) FAVOURITE…

Song 
Atop a Cake by Alvvays (2014)
Recently, Selena Gomez posted a video on Instagram of her vacationing in Australia; all was well except for the fact that she used Alvvays’ music WITHOUT GIVING THEM CREDIT. This month I am determined to give Alvvays the credit it deserves: Atop a Cake‘s fresh and whimsical vibe plays so wonderfully with the lyrics reflecting a post-modern glaze to the idea of marriage. “How could I lose control if you’re driving from the backseat?” The song builds in layers, and maintains this sweet balance between musical hilarity and seriousness. 
Honourable mention: One April Day by Stephen Merritt (2003)
Should I have saved this for April’s recap? Probably, but it’s hard to delay my enthusiasm for good music. This song was written for the film “Pieces of April”, which I have yet to view. The brevity of the lyrics leaves a sweet and longing taste, a bite of poetry in a sea of tender music. 

Classical music piece
Adagio from Violin Sonata No. 1 by Johann Sebastian Bach (~1720)
Bach’s music is not only pure, but it purifies. The Adagio movement from the first Violin Sonata is as heavy as it is light – the stream of the mind meeting the well of the world. Here I link to you Henryk Szeryng’s rendition – awe ensues.

Poem
To Spring by Roger Greenwald (2012)
“To Spring” flows off the tongue with such unapologetic eloquence and I want to engrave these lines on my metaphorical skin because through its sadness is it overwhelmingly beautiful (have I officially hit my emo phase?). I love the use of repeated words, such as “gone”, and “light”, as it brings a soft, tapping rhythm to the stanza, as if the speaker is flickering between past and present. There is a careful trade-off between concrete and negating imagery (“tulips breaking out of their bulbs” vs. “absence stronger than flowers”) which caps the concluding idea brilliantly: “[spring’s] touch / too much and not enough.”

Dreaded season when light’s too long too soon,
winter turns to you before its work is done.
Along with snowdrops, forsythia, anemone,
along with tulips breaking out of their bulbs,
comes the long memory of the fatal spring
when I was thirty-three and my love wasn’t there,
had gone without waiting and said she’d return,
but winter’s work done, was still gone.
Absence stronger than flowers, steaming in sun,
poisoned the season, buried morbid winter
and filled imagined summer with vapors. Light,
light spring drifts in like a feather
used for torture, its touch
too much and not enough.

Continue reading “(re)march2018”

(re)february2018

The twenty-eight days in February generated such a rich variety of moments – as ordinary as unparalleled – that paradoxically I am surprised at how quickly we have melted into March. I am nearing the end of my first year of university and although I have attempted to enjoy and record it as much as possible, most of my experiences have been left unprocessed. I suppose I should be happy to leave some in the forgotten past, but what is the use of memories there?

(1) FAVOURITE…

Song 
Buddy Holly by Weezer (1994)
I wish I was a more woke blogger who could help you discover new, promising music, but for this month I have picked a 90s classic because it shaped my vision of February. There is something especially satisfying with the whole process of listening to “Buddy Holly” – it starts off abruptly angry, morphs into an optimistic chorus, and continues on with this clear-headed clutter of emotion. The length of the song reflects well its subject and content – precious and heartbreaking in its brevity.
Honourable mention: Message to My Girl by Split Enz (1983)
I think February has delivered me my Kiwi awakening. First, this song by iconic New Zealand band Split Enz (thank you Anna for the introduction!), then discovering Allen Curnow’s poetry, and finally, receiving the February 2018 issue of Poetry Magazine, which is completely dedicated to Aotearoa/New Zealand poets! “Message to My Girl” is, in an opposite but similar way to “Buddy Holly”, a wonderful song for February 14th. Love is not simply a New Year’s Resolution after all – January, you need to step up your game next time.

Classical music piece
Concierto de Aranjuez by Joaquín Rodrigo (1939)
During my week back in Winnipeg, I had the pleasure of hearing Gaëlle Solal perform this piece with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. I have linked her performance of the second movement, which Wikipedia describes, with strange artistic accuracy, as [permeating with a] feeling of quiet regret.” Even as the movement reaches a climax, the theme, now loud and powered by the entire orchestra, seems to still retain that soft quality of its first breaths. Contradictory to the popular narrative claiming Rodrigo wrote this movement as a cry pain for his wife Victoria’s miscarriage in 1939, letters by Rodrigo reveals that he heard the complete theme of the Adagio singing in his head, one day in his study room in rue Saint Jacques, in the Latin Quarter of Paris[1].

Poem
Short Talks by Anne Carson (1992)
We all love a minimalist and powerful queen. Anne Carson’s full biography reads, “Anne Carson was born in Canada and teaches ancient Greek for a living.” Short Talks is Anne Carson’s first collection of poems, and it is delightful in its unapologetic, cryptically obvious vision of the ideas we gloss over in our weaker reality. I’ve linked a video of Anne Carson reading from Short Talks. 

Short Talk On Where To Travel

I went travelling to a wreck of a place. There
were three gates standing ajar and a fence
that broke off. It was not the wreck of any-
thing else in particular. A place came there
and crashed. After that it remained the
wreck of a place. Light fell on it.

Continue reading “(re)february2018”

(re)january 2018

Here is a new series! Because I need encouragement to post consistently on this blog, and because it is always superfluously interesting to read about other people’s lives, if and only if you decide it is worth your time.

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(1) FAVOURITE…

Song 
Prémonition by Coeur de Pirate + Night So Long by HAIM
I became entranced by both of these songs after watching their excellent music videos. Prémonition‘s lyrics are sharp and fluid (“Je comptais tes pas / Dans la danse qui sépare l’espace de tes choix), and the bubbly burst of the chorus reflects (and with irony) the new day of same mistakes. Night So Long is a vulnerable ballad that exudes with strength through powerful vocals and the rich undertones of the electric guitar: “In loneliness my only friend / In loneliness my only fear.”

Classical music piece
Come away, come away death, Op. 18, No. 1 (Instrumental) by Gerald Finzi 
It is the little motif that fascinates me. It is like a question asked by the snow that is melting by springtime. And so, perhaps a premature song plopped into my timeline, but I feel gratitude for its gentleness.

Favourite poem
“There’s a certain Slant of light” by Emily Dickinson
Because it is Emily Dickinson, because it is the heart of winter and this poem speaks so closely to the awe of the external which closes in on our inner mind, “where the meanings are”. Continue reading “(re)january 2018”