You die on a bright and sunny Tuesday near the start of November. The crisp autumn air has a sweet taste to it, and
it rattles out in warm puffs until you breathe no more. (It looks like you’re really trying, but air is for the living,
after all, and ghosts have no lungs with which to pull it in.)
And then you’re getting up, looking at the body that’s turning pale and waxy at your feet, and you must be wondering: what now? Everyone wonders what now before long. Fortunately for you, you’ve been murdered (imagine that– fortunately! Oh, I do crack me up) and so you have a natural first step: figure out whodunit, and then find a way to communicate that to those of us with bodies and larynxes.
Sarah Bigham begins her impressive collection, Kind Chemist Wife: Musings at 3 a.m, with the poem “Gettysburg” — an excavation of memory as much as it is an examination of it. The poem closes with the lines “Beauty / or not?” — a fitting description of the collection as a whole: equal parts witty and wise, breezy and poignant. It’s a collection that focuses not only on life’s snapshot, shiny moments but on the kind of invasive memories that plague us in the early morning hours.
Over the last couple of decades, the term “YA fiction” (or young adult fiction) has been increasingly used in literature and is now a major category in publishing – but what is it exactly? What age group is it targeting? Who are its main readers? How is it different from regular “adult” fiction? Its definition is imprecise, and it depends on who you ask.
Thinking about Kaur and her success reminds me of another young, talented, Canadian artist: Drake. Both Kaur and Drizzy are among the most successful artists in their respective fields, now and of all time. Whether you like them or the genres they operate in or not, chances are you’ve heard of them. And if you look into their numbers, you’d see that their success is not a matter of opinion, it’s a fact. So, objectively speaking, they must be the best, right?
I stopped using the TTC when I discovered that I could bike my way through the city instead. I bike my way now through shadowy neighbourhoods, through the slips and knots of intersections. At the intersection of Bloor and Yonge, I enter the interdimensional shift of this land we call Toronto. Sacred and occupied Anishinaabe land. Sometimes you don’t claim the land, the land claims you.
With the end of 2019 came lists and awards from media outlets about the past ten years in review. Among these was the declaration by The New Republic that Rupi Kaur was their writer of the decade. Kaur, at only twenty-seven years old, is known as an “Instapoet,” and owes much of her success to her highly popular Instagram account where she publishes short poems accompanied by distinct line drawings. Kaur currently has 3.9 million followers, and her posts alternate between coloured photos—often of Kaur herself—and poems made up of black text on a white background. Social media poetry tends to follow a similar structure: aesthetic, brief, and easily digestible.