It's difficult to believe 2017 is nearly over; so much has happened this year, wondrous & horrifying & stunning & somnolent, since we turned the first page of this story so many days ago. It was a difficult year on my mental health, one when my obsessions & compulsions soared, one with too many days that tasted of aching & ash—& it was one that made me grateful to be alive.
&, of course, 2017 was a year with art—art that changed us, art that carried us through the storm, art that lifted us up, art that proved us wrong.
Here, then, is a list of the best literature, music, poetry, podcasts, & miscellaneous internet lovelies I consumed in 2017. The art that served as figurative & literal lifelines when the year pushed me far from shore, left me floundering beneath the surface. I hope you take them as the gifts that they are. Allow them to warm you on winter nights & light your way when all hope seems lost. That, after all, is what art has always been for.
(A note: below is the list of my absolute favourite art of this year, but it is in no way representative of everything I consumed. If you are so inclined, take a look at the full list of my 2017 art on Tumblr. If you'd like to see last year's favourite art, here is my 2016 love list.)
LITERATURE: Room by Emma Donoghue (a wild & aching exploration of home & abuse & what happens when a childhood shatters); Acknowledgements by Clare Vernon (this book does not have the answers, but it has the questions, & maybe that's all I ever really wanted anyway); [insert]boy by Danez Smith (a swerving & necessary portrayal of modern life as a queer black boy in America); Hand Made Ghosts by Reyna NA (dreams of becoming again after illness strips you bare); Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn (girls as wolves, a town with teeth, Gone Girl's older & more devastating sister); The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (at once furious & soft, terrifying & tender); Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (tore me apart & glued me back together, killed me & dreamed me back to life)
MUSIC: I Forget Where We Were by Ben Howard (favourite songs: "I Forget Where We Were" & "She Treats Me Well"); You EP by dodie (favourite songs: "Would You Be So Kind" & "6/10"); For Emma, Forever Ago by Bon Iver (favourite song: "Skinny Love"); Cigarettes After Sex by Cigarettes After Sex (favourite song: "Sweet"); Fear & Fable EP by Fleurie (favourite song: "We Were Young"); Dream Your Life Away by Vance Joy (favourite song: "Fire & the Flood"); The 1975 by The 1975 (favourite song: "Menswear"); The Hamilton Mixtape by various artists (favourite songs: "Wrote My Way Out" & "An Open Letter"); Helplessness Blues by Fleet Foxes (favourite song: "Helplessness Blues"); reputation by Taylor Swift (favourite song: "Call It What You Want"); Wanted on Voyage by George Ezra (favourite song: "Barcelona"); Melodrama by Lorde (favourite songs: "Writer In the Dark" & "The Louvre"); NYC Girl EP by The Orion Experience (favourite song: "NYC Girl"); twelvefour by The Paper Kites (favourite songs: "Too Late" & "Renegade"); Harry Styles by Harry Styles (favourite songs: "Ever Since New York" & "Sweet Creature"); Oh Wonder by Oh Wonder (favourite songs: "Technicolour Beat" & "Midnight Moon"); Strange Desire by Bleachers (favourite songs: "I Wanna Get Better" & "Rollercoaster"); Cut to the Feeling by Elijah Mann (favourite song: "Cut to the Feeling")
POETRY: "Whiteness Walks Into a Bar" by Franny Choi (& orders a scotch on the rocks. / Bartender's like, anything else?); "Upon Realising There are Ghosts In the Water" by Leila Chatti (Some things are so big they take and take / and remain exactly the same size); "Cowboy Something" by Dalton Day (We are cowboys or something); "This is Just to Say" by William Carlos Williams (I have eaten / the plums / that were in / the icebox); "All Lives Matter: 1800s Edition" by Anthony McPherson (I don't even see colour—you're racist for being slaves); "Some Last Questions" by W.S. Merwin (what are the feet / no what are the feet); "Lessons in Alone" by Jeanne Verlee (You haven’t been beautiful in years); "Crescendo" by Tumblr user sometimestuesday (I'm here. I have hands. / I'll try not to hurt anyone with them); "Diving Into the Wreck" by Adrienne Rich (The thing I came for: / the wreck and not the story of the wreck / the thing itself and not the myth); "Late August" by Margaret Atwood (This is the plum season, the nights / blue and distended, the moon / hazed); "Necessary Roughness" by Christina Im (All I want is to make something / and never have to touch it again); "Leda & the Swan" by Kathryn Hargett (my dear So-and-So, we were just kidding, / real life is so much better than this); "Dear Body" by Kristin Chang (Before you, / there was your father’s / fist wearing your blood like plumage, / fist choking your name / like a bottleneck)
PODCASTS: My Favourite Murder, hosted by Georgia Hardstark & Karen Kilgariff (favourite episode: "36 - Live from LA Podcast Festival"); The Slow Home Podcast, hosted by Brooke McAlary (favourite episode: "Joel Zaslofsky - SHP Episode 2"); How I Built This, hosted by Guy Raz (favourite episode: "Honest Tea: Seth Goldman"); Dear Sugars, hosted by Cheryl Strayed & Steve Almond (favourite episode: "Love in the Digital Age"); Invisibilia, hosted by Lulu Miller and Alix Spiegel (favourite episode: “Entanglement”)
ESSAYS & MISCELLANEOUS INTERNET-LOVELIES: The Percentages: A Biography of Class (I never thought my father was not middle-class.); My Son's Catalogue of Grievances (Suffice it to say, if we had a parenting suggestion box, it would be full.); How Words Fail (I was more drawn to poets who severed syntax out of a sense of cultural or political displacement rather than for the sake of experimentation.); The Problem with Rupi Kaur's Poetry (Simply extending personal confessions to an entire community, and then claiming to represent generations of trauma with these confessions, is not as straightforward as Kaur would have it.); The Talent of the Room (Writing is something you do alone in a room.); Today I Got Pulled Over for Driving While Black (I was the one driver pulled over out of a group of drivers travelling at the same speed. Maybe it had absolutely nothing to do with my race.); The Fantasy of Being Thin (Overcoming The Fantasy of Being Thin might be the hardest part of making it all the way into fat acceptance-land.); You're Not Going to Believe What I'm About to Tell You (I need you to keep listening, regardless of what you believe.)
BEST OF MY OWN ART (most popular & personal favourite creations of mine from 2017): poems for the sound of the sky before thunder (my first full-length poetry collection); SUPERNOVA (forever humbled by how much recognition & love this tiny heart-film of mine has received); Healing is a Verb (a story about aching & healing shared for the first time with the TEDx audience); Issue III & Issue IV of Half Mystic Journal (each issue more rich & gorgeous than the last); monthly little horoscopes (a soft & beautiful tradition to welcome in each new month); Beneath the Lion City (an anthology of irreal Singaporean stories that I designed & contributed to); "Trigger" (a poem published in Glass: A Journal of Poetry & nominated for my second Pushcart Prize); "I Start Crying During the Best Part of the Film" (a poem published in Rust+Moth); "Mealtime" (a poem published in Cosmonauts Avenue); an interview with Cicada Magazine (on tenderness & defiance)
p.s. please do share with me your own favourite art consumed in 2017. what books & music & podcasts & internet lovelies must i not miss out on for 2018? i am excited to hear your thoughts.