All posts filed under: Shelf Life

OOTC: September

Yes. I’m behind. Waaay behind. In September I spent a bit of time away from Toronto and road tripped with some friends around the Eastern coast of Canada. It was my first time on that side of the country, and the first time in a while where I was so constantly close to the ocean. When this happens. I film poems. The last visual poem: Untitled features footage from this September trip. The landscape unrolled in all my favourite hues, and I felt immensely restful to be near large bodies of water again. The seafood was spectacular, the weather forgiving, and the journey overflowing. Spending hours with people I love, doing banal things like driving along the coast, hiking long trails, and looking for good food are precious threads of this year’s fabric of living. As I get older, I find it more challenging to hold on to these relationships amidst the meandering pathways we’re all taking through life. Convergence is a gift and an effort, and I felt that in shades and tones as I …

Referent

Earlier this year, Abby and I created a collaborative mixed media art collage for an exhibition hosted by Art Starts. Named “Referent”, it was a illustration/poetry collage that detailed landscapes and vignettes from the cities of Hong Kong and Toronto, places that Abby and I both have ties to. The web-based format was a play on the lack of a single point of origin, and the piece was largely a construction of loose snapshots that we construct our homes out of, as opposed to a fixed narrative pathway. After the exhibition was over, we wanted to translate that piece into a different medium, particularly, into the zine format. The problem with translating text and image into book form is that they are essentially anchored in a set pathway, which was anti the purpose of the work. Eventually we decided on a couple of elements that would allow us to transfer the spirit of the piece into a book-based medium. What we ended up with was a hand-cut and hand-bound zine with empty pages, lined with …

Shelf Life: Heat, A Southeast Asian Urban Anthology

Southeast Asia – the place I call home. This tenuous connection is remarkably fragile in Toronto, where most care little for the distinctions between the regional and national places of Asia, except perhaps, in the case of restaurant cuisine. Cue Heat, one-third of a spectacular series of anthologies published by Fixi Novo, a Malaysian publisher. I picked up all three: Heat, Flesh, Trash while visiting Malaysia last summer, and finally cracked open Heat a few months ago. Short fiction is not a genre I read extensively in, as I usually prefer poetry collections, graphic novels, novels and even non-fiction collections. A Southeast Asian anthology was too enticing though, and the book didn’t disappoint. From Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore to the diasporic movements of writers from places like New Zealand, London and the USA, the writers featured in the anthology cover a geographical range that is difficult to generalize. Imagine my surprise and delight when the sleepy city on Borneo that half my maternal family resides in – Kuching, houses the entirety of a story. Land …

Shelf Life: Green Grass, Running Water by Thomas King

“So. In the beginning, there was nothing. Just the water.” Short Verdict: It is difficult to adequately convey the delight I felt in reading this book. Thomas King’s storytelling voice is moving, delightful, funny and reflective. Green Grass, Running Water is more of a narrative experience than a read. Green Grass, Running Water was my May Shelf Life title, and I’m only getting around to having time to sit and write this review now. The narrative itself is not straightforward. If you’re familiar with a general range of “postcolonial” texts or have read other Indigenous fiction titles, then chances are you’ll be able to follow Thomas King’s frolicking story. If, however, you are not used to disorientation, inaccessibility, and repetitive shifts, then it might be hard to get a sense of what is happening. Weaving multiple storylines happening in one time-space, representations of oral narratives are inserted between these chapters, as origin stories are told and retold, each time slightly different, propelling narrative forward strangely, through return. And of course, returning is exactly each character’s choice over and over …