Meanings, meditations, and modifications

The report from the most recent MRI on my right knee is filled with words I don’t understand — and not just because they’re German. ‘Subluxation’ is the same in English and auf Deutsche. ‘Chondral degeneration’ and ‘joint effusion’ are pretty close. ‘Arthrose’ translates neatly to ‘osteoarthritis.’ And meniscus is readily understandable with a ‘k’ instead of a ‘c.’

The meaning of the medical terminology is opaque in either language. The effects on my life, however, are obvious — and leave me wondering about what osteoarthritis and a host of complications mean for meditating.

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The 22nd

The current term of my creative writing programme is all about poetry. Lots of reading, critiquing, analysing, and, of course, writing. We’re being asked to write about things that move us deeply. And to share work from published writers (who I think of as ‘real‘ poets) that inspire us.

The first poem I wrote this term is about saying goodbye to Sofie. She comes to mind so clearly on the 22nd of each month: the date of her death (in February) as well as the date of her birth (in December).

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Selected short-story reading (vol. 3)

I’m well into the first term of the final year of my Post-Graduate Diploma in Creative Writing from the University of York (not to be confused with York University in Toronto!) and this term’s focus is poetry. The last four weeks have confirmed that I enjoy reading poetry far more than writing it.

And, whether reading or writing, I prefer prose to verse.

To that end, here are three more short stories I recommend.

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Selected short-story reading (vol. 2)

With the short fiction term of my Creative Writing course wrapped up and the poetry chunk starting in September, I have time to fine-tune a few pieces I’m planning to submit for writing competitions and/or publication. Most of the publishers require previously unpublished work, so I won’t be popping them up here—at least not yet.

In the meantime, though, here are three more stories from other writers I think are worth a read.

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Absence and return

Looking out over the Rocky Mountains in 2016

Canada has been on my mind a lot recently. Partially because of international media coverage after the discovery of the remains of 215 children on the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, BC. Partially because Prime Minister Trudeau got weird amounts of attention for his poufy hair and fancy socks at the G7 in Cornwall. But mostly because I haven’t been on Canadian soil for a year and a half.

That’s a long absence for me.

As more people are fully vaccinated (in Switzerland and Canada) and COVID-19 infection rates are going down in both countries, travel is starting to re-open. But plotting a trip ‘home’ has been complicated by quarantine requirements, lack of flights, previous commitments, and, above all, so much uncertainty.

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Selected short-story reading (vol. 1)

Woman reading a paperback book by a body of water

Since I wrote about boycotting written works by straight white men (or avoiding them as much as possible) I’ve made very deliberate choices about what to read for my creative writing course. This term is all about short fiction and contains some unavoidable SWM-authored works (notably Raymond Carver thus far), but we’ve also had a lot of latitude in picking what we want to read, present, and pick apart.

Instead of keeping the women-authored pieces I’ve found within the bounds of the course, I’m sharing some of my favourite discoveries. These are quick to read, readily available, and a no-commitment-necessary kinda way of broadening reading horizons. Lots of people don’t love reading short stories… maybe these picks will help change that!

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Why I’m done with straight white men

Or at least avoiding books written by them

A woman's arm lifting a paperback book off a bookshelf

It’s a straight white man’s world and there’s no shortage of content produced by and for that demographic. Despite not being how the majority of people identify (at least in my home country, Canada, where about a third of respondents identified as racialised minorities in the most recent census and men make up slightly less than half of the total population), it would be pretty easy to watch, read, listen to nothing but straight white men!

My biggest motivator for seeking out non-white, non-straight, non-male authors (that’s a lot of nons!) is the continued dominance of media and artistic spaces by this group of bros. A disproportionate number of authors, journalists, actors, directors, writers, artists, and musicians come from the same dominant hegemony: heterosexual, caucasian, male and mostly unaware of their privilege. 

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