Reading Watching Listening

Reading…

And I Alone Survived to Tell You by Sylvia Hamilton. I picked up Hamilton’s latest poetry collection in the fall when I was in Nova Scotia (it was published by Gaspereau Press in Kentville, NS and I picked up a copy in Wolfville). I went to a poetry event that she was at on Tuesday, so in preparation I finally sat down and read it. It is astonishing and powerful poetry.

 

Watching…

Ballet 422. I finally got around to watching this documentary about Justin Peck choreographing a new work for the New York City Ballet. It’s wonderful. Of course, as someone who is a major fan of ballet, and someone who adores ballet documentaries (First Position, city.ballet.) it’s no surprise that I was invested in this one.

 

Listening…

Coming Home by Leon Bridges. The 25-year-old Texan has earned comparisons to the likes of Sam Cooke and Otis Redding. He sounds like he belongs to another generation, and I love it. “There She Goes” is one of my favourites from the album, but the whole thing is awesome.

Read This

Required Reading. I first read this story almost four years ago, but I still go back to it with some frequency. Josephine Rowe’s stories feel both raw and guarded at the same time, and perhaps that is how I feel about love and life. Perhaps that is why I love them so much. She also has a gift for putting the reader in a situation, in a place, in a specific moment with her characters, and yet these stories never feel so specific that they couldn’t be about you or your sister or your best friend. Perhaps that is why I love them so much, the spectre of relatability looms large and yet never manages to terrify me with a mirror image of myself. And with that cryptic introduction, I give you Josephine Rowe’s “Love”.

He is teaching her how to break bottles against the side of the house. A whiskey bottle works best, he tells her. She thinks this is very lucky, because that is what they have the most of – he has spent the last few weeks emptying them. So whiskey bottles are what they are using. Now, he says. Like this. Crack. So that you get something like a shiv, not just a fistful of glass and stitches. Like this, he says. Crack. And she feels a great swell of pride in her sparrowy chest – he gets it perfect, every time. Now you, he says, and he hands her the next bottle. Because a father can’t always be there, he says, and she nods and tries to look solemn, to make him believe she understands. The bottle does not break on the first try. She swings harder on the second try and gets it, but it is a bad break. Her father does not say this, but she knows. Too close to the neck. Shards of glass from other afternoons shine dully in the dry earth at their feet. He hands her another bottle and the second break is better, the glass jutting out like the snaggled teeth of some prehistoric fish.

She tries to imagine when she will need this – how things will ever get so bad. Her idea of evil is a slinking, unknowable thing, formless and weightless and impossible to hurt. She takes another bottle and tries to give the evil a shape, eyes and lips and things, all squinty and sneering – a composite of all the villains and monsters she has seen in films and picture books. And although she finds the result is less terrifying than something incorporeal, she does not know how she will ever be brave enough – will she ever be able to do that to somebody, evil or otherwise?

[…KEEP READING…]

Reading Watching Listening

Reading…

The Winter Vault by Anne Michaels. Technically this is work. I’m presenting a conference paper on Saturday about this novel, so I’ve been frantically throwing some thoughts together about it this week. Fortunately, any time I do work on Michaels’s writing, I get to spend some time reading it. So beautiful. Every time I read this novel, I love it even more.

 

Watching…

Gilmore Girls. I needed some comfort TV to counteract the conference-related stress. Plus, all of the casting announcements about the revival made me really want to watch the series again. Not that it takes much for me to want to watch this show. I’ve seen it more times than I can remember, and I quote it constantly in real life. I love the world so much. The characters are fantastic (I would like to be Lorelai, please and thank you), the town is hilarious, the dialogue is witty and fast…all in all, it is essentially my ideal TV show.
Listening…
David Jalbert’s renditions of Satie’s 3 Gymnopédies. I have loved these three pieces for a very long time, and Jalbert’s renditions of them on Le comble de la distinction are honestly the most gorgeously tender versions I have heard. This is No. 1, Lent et douloureux. It’s probably the best known of the three, and it is my personal favourite to play.

 

 

Read This

If you know me at all, then you know that this project is right up my alley. I am an avid fan of ballet. It is such a beautiful, powerful, emotionally compelling art form. I am also a serious fan of Degas’s famous ballet works. So the second I heard that Misty Copeland recreated Degas’s most famous ballet works, I had to know more. The images are compelling, and the article accompanying them here is interesting. Check it out here.

gallery-1455116967-hbz-3-misty(Photo: Ken Browar & Deborah Ory, from this Harpers Bazaar article)

Reading Watching Listening

Reading…

Still nothing of note right now, so instead I am going to reach back to the fall and recommend Spinster by Kate Bolick to y’all. It is so incredibly good. I loved every page of it. It’s one of those rare books that lived up to all of the hype I had heard and then surpassed that bar.

 

Watching…

Chicago Fire and Chicago PD. It is a damn good thing that I have little interest in medical shows, otherwise I would need to add Chicago Med to the list as well. These shows are phenomenal. I started PD because of the lovely Sophia Bush, and quickly realized I needed to watch Chicago Fire as well. The shows are more than a little rough on the emotions. And PD has a tendency to make me think “damn, I would like to be a badass cop”. At least until I remember who I am as a person and the fact that that really wouldn’t work out.

 
Listening…
“Bloodbuzz Ohio” by The National. I have a long time love for this song.

Read This

Things That Might Go Wrong
John Steffler
 
I was trained to be cautious:
my father always there
two steps ahead of my every move:
“If you hold it like that it’ll slip….
Now what are you going to do with it?…
I saw a guy try that once and it tore off his arm.”
 
But I go beyond such rote-learned caution.
I am creatively cautious, exquisitely
sensitive to things that might go wrong.
 
Quicker than any computer my mind
scoots down dozens of possible turns events might take,
spotting the dangers,
clucking warnings automatically as a hen.
 
Now, lying in bed, I listen as
my young daughter goes to feed the dog.
Not in his water bowl! I think to yell.
Such a nag, I tell myself.
Always your fretful plaint rotting everything.
Poor kid.
Still free. Purely happy getting his food.
Keep out of it.
You’ll make her hate you in the end,
look back some day and see
you were the hole that let in doubt and fear.
 
Even when there’s no rattle of dry dog food,
even when I hear the dog slurping his breakfast
I don’t say a word.
 
I lie grinning, victorious,
 
having checked all the dangers
and dodged the worst.

Quoted

Walking was not fast enough, so we ran. Running was not fast enough, so we galloped. Galloping was not fast enough, so we sailed. Sailing was not fast enough, so we rolled merrily along on long metal tracks. Long metal tracks were not fast enough, so we drove. Driving was not fast enough, so we flew.

Flying isn’t fast enough, not fast enough for us. We want to get there faster. Get where? Wherever we are not. But a human soul can only go as fast as a man can walk, they used to say. In that case, where are all the souls? Left behind. They wander here and there, slowly, dim lights flickering in the marshes at night, looking for us. But they’re not nearly fast enough, not for us, we’re way ahead of them, they’ll never catch up. That’s why we can go so fast: our souls don’t weigh us down.

— Margaret Atwood