Five Good Books

(on 21 July, 2017 & with 12 Comments)

Friends, I feel it has been far too long since we last chatted about books – especially since I’ve read so many in the interim that have utterly blown me away (& so many I cannot wait to read soon, soon, soon). A few recent lovelies I’ve so adored dancing with…

01 / RUNNING IN THE FAMILY, Michael Ondaatje. An older book but one I reference too often not to mention, Running in the Family is at once grounded & magical, one of the best & truest portrayals of life in the tropics that I have ever read. I took my copy with me to the United States & I reread my favourite vignettes often when I yearn for the softness of monsoon rain, palm trees singing above, the swelling & lyrical fever-bright dream that only home could possibly hold.

02 / CODE NAME VERITY, Elizabeth Wein. This book tore me apart & glued me together, killed me & dreamed me back to life – it is funny & searing & melancholy & hopeful & terrifying & transcendent, & I was in tears many, many times over just how three dimensional, how utterly true this story was. The characters are flawed & struggling & so deeply, horrifyingly, beautifully real. And the friendship, oh – we make a sensational team indeed. I was reminded so much of my relationship with my own best friend, & that alone made me ache in the loveliest way. (One caveat, however: the first section’s rather a bore. Sit through it anyway. I promise, I promise once the second section comes around you will understand why.)

03 / AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF RED, Anne Carson. I am cheating slightly on this one, as I have not in fact picked it up quite yet – but so many dear friends have recommended it that I know I must remedy that as soon as possible. I adore Carson’s translations of Sappho & the (admittedly few) original pieces I have read from her, so I am truly looking forward to diving into this story of tenderness through torment, how love flourishes of & around every permutation of fate.

04 / ROOM, Emma Donoghue. I’d been wanting to read Room for many months before finally I impulse-bought it on my Kindle & read the whole thing in three breathless days. There is so much that has already been said about this book that I hesitate to add my small thoughts, but it is gripping & terrifying & made me tear up a great many times. A story of a mother & her son, a race for survival, the implications of living a world where nothing is quite the same as we remember.

05 / [INSERT]BOY, Danez Smith. You have likely seen me raving over this gorgeous, necessary book of poetry in recent months; [Insert]Boy is a creation that is at once extraordinary in its desire & aching in its fluidity, effortlessly spanning the boundaries between queerness & music & terror, the things we do to finally feel whole. I go back to it daily to pore over my favourite sections, to taste the ghost of its lines on my tongue, & it feels that every time I do I come away with something more soft & devastating than before. I could not recommend it enough.

p.s. what books have you been reaching for lately, & what do you think of them? let’s chat in the comments. i am always open to adding more books to my to-read list. xx


“The simplest story is not always the truest.” (Little Horoscopes for July)

(on 13 July, 2017 & with 0 Comments)

This summer is the kind with warm air & trees to dream beneath & fireflies that arise the moment the sun sinks below horizonline. Which is to say: it is the kind spent in Virginia, the most joyous (& quintessentially summer-filled) place I could imagine.

While this small sanctuary is gorgeous & soaked with so much light, it has also made me realise something rather sad: the horoscope series is coming to an end. It has been such a lovely journey to arrive at where we are today, but alas, in recent months I’ve been itching to stretch my wings a bit, focus on other creative endeavours that I am currently struggling to find time for. To that end, I’m retiring the horoscope series in December of 2017, & the new year of 2018 will begin with many more exciting projects ahead.

A reminder that you can support said exciting projects (& oh goodness, there are many!) as well as receive the first behind-the-scene looks into their creation, right here on Patreon. Thank you infinitely for your support, & I truly hope you enjoy what is left of this small series.

 

Little Horoscopes for July

Sagittarius, the simplest story is not always the truest.
Pisces, become the version of yourself that your children see in you.
Aries, sadness is not your defining trait.
Virgo, you should never have to convince them to love you.
Leo, it is just as graceful to be the poison as the antidote.
Taurus, you bring colour to every fathomable shade of grey.
Cancer, joy as performance is no joy at all.
Aquarius, find a way to phrase this hurricane into a drizzle.
Gemini, luck has nothing to do with it.
Scorpio, you’re allowed to speak openly about this & all the rest.
Capricorn, try to forgive.
Libra, you cannot do everything with grace.


“I try to outlast myself but all I see is heart.” (a poem for you)

(on 5 July, 2017 & with 10 Comments)

As you will know if we are friends on social media, these past few weeks have been difficult on so many levels for the monsters that live in my head. My mental health seems to grow increasingly worse as the news becomes bleaker & bleaker, & perhaps that is why the ground feels too unsteady beneath my feet, no refuge to speak of.

Last night I sat down to write a poem, & it was supposed to be sad & angry & hopeless, & instead it turned out sad & soft & hopeful. I think today is a good time to share it with you all, though it’s certainly not the best one I’ve ever written. I hope it still rings true, though. A small reminder of the circular nature of this funny & terrible & gorgeous world in which we live, of how lucky we are to exist in this time even if we feel we’d rather be anywhere else.

Here’s to a beginning & a middle & one beginning more, but not an end. Never an end.

 

& Now

—now this world, raw & hollow, opens itself into me.
This world in all its horror, in all its sorrow, in all
its blood & wreck & ache. This: the only world I
have ever known, & the ugliest, & the most beautiful.
This: the world it would be so easy for me to despise.
Through it all the sky sings above, empty & warm, aching
& tender. Through it all tsunamis, mythologies, children
laughing for the first time & couples kissing for
the last. One day they told me love had won, & the next
they told me love had died. & I spun on, breathed on.
Pieced it all together through grounded birds, through
so many tomorrows. & still I stood & inhaled,
& it tickled to be alive here, in this world that
has killed me so many times & saved my life
so many more. Here in this world where, even now,
the ghosts are quieting, only for new ones to rise.
I try to outlast myself but all I see is heart, so instead
here is a world full & shattered. Here I am, for better
or for worse. & here I fight & cry & fall in love
to the sound of every rain, every quiet, every light,
every cruelty & forgiveness, every fuel & flaw,
every future that will not get here fast enough,
to the sound of wars fought in the name of peace,
to the sound of still before the train comes,
to the sound of beginning again, & again, &—


Introducing Half Mystic’s Issue III: Nocturne

(on 21 June, 2017 & with 2 Comments)

It is a difficult thing to assemble darkness into an act of creation.

And for Issue III of my baby music journal Half Mystic, our team & contributors leaned into that difficulty, refused to shy away. With the news growing increasingly bleaker & the world outside morphing into some thickened dream that none of us quite recognised, we chose this time to grow acquainted with the black. Lean forward, push through silence, & grasp for some kind of symphony in the velvet-folded dusk.

I learned something startling while anchored here: that perhaps this night-soaked elegy, this liminal collection of shadow & song, holds a sense of light of & through & around all that darkness. For two years, we at Half Mystic have reimagined melody into every golden form we know how to hold. Issue III, then, is a testament to what happens when we turn away from the light & – beautifully, terrifyingly, inevitably – stumble upon it anyway.

Issue III of Half Mystic is an story about night, & breath, & every true & tender space we create for ourselves in the sharp-quiet moments after the music fades to black. It is a story about waking up & standing up. It is a story about rich & sudden wonder. It is a story about linking arms & breathing in time with the music that has carried us this far already.

Join us now. Arms stretched out, eyes wide open, listening for song in the dark.

 

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This issue centres around the theme of nocturne: the midnight drive – the shadow dance – the things leftover when the music fades to black. Myself, the HM team, & our incredible contributors have worked hard to shape this issue into a creation & an experience & an achievement all in one. Featuring creators such as Alice Kristiansen, Maryse Meijer, F. Daniel Rzicznek, Kristin Berger, & many more, the nocturne edition is rich, abrupt, & unlike any of HM’s previous issues.

Order your copy today to support our journal & the independent artists who make it real, & receive a stunning anthology of art, lyrics, & writing stretches out through darkness, plucks the strings of night, burns stars into being even in all this black. Thank you, friends, for helping this small gorgeous heart-project of mine live on for many more issues to come. xx