Sunday, November 27, 2011

Winter Reading List

I'm done on the 14th this year, so I have a lot of time to read.

-Some of the books for Canadian fiction so I can get ahead in the course. Probably The Diviners, and Lives of Girls and Women
-The Scarlet Letter
-The Great Gatsby (want to reread before watching the movie)
-Who Has Seen the Wind
-Books I've bought but not read. e.g. At Swim, Two Boys; The Left Hand of Darkness
-Jann Arden's memoir... if I can get ahold of it
-some kind of philosophy

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Things have been getting really stressful lately. Despite all my intentions to start a new website or blog, I still haven't gotten around to doing so, so I guess I'm sticking to this one. I actually miss posting in the club; it helped me sort through my thoughts and de-stress.

Anyway, I swear being in the humanities is a lot harder than being in the sciences. I have two essays due next week and I haven't even finished the readings. I'm so stressed out.

I gotta have faith. Faith that my marks for this term will be satisfactory. Faith that, even if my marks turn out to be less than where I want them for be, I'll be able to improve them in second semester. Faith that, even if I can't improve them in second semester, I'll still be accepted into grad school somehow. Faith that, even if I am not accepted into English grad school, I'll still be accepted, somewhere, somehow, by someone. Faith that, even if I'm not accepted, I'll still be able to make myself useful to society.

To be honest, I do not really know if English is the right path for me. What I know is that the humanities offer a different mode of learning--one which challenges and engages me, at least right now. Yet there is still something lacking--the focus on literary texts, which is the method of inquiry for the English department, still leaves me feeling somehow detached for the world. I kind of wish I took more philosophy and sociology in undergrad, instead of taking so many science courses (all of which felt similar in nature). I could somehow segue into sexual diversity/queer studies, or another field, maybe, in grad school. I don't know. I'll figure it out; I have faith.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


I can't sleep.
Too many things on my mind lately.

Sometimes, I'm in so much emotional pain, and no matter what I do I won't be able to get rid of it. And then a few moments later, I'll be okay again.
I know it's I subject myself to the same thought patterns and the same emotional patterns over and over again, but I can't stop thinking certain ways.
I've tried my best, I've given much, forgiven much.
So why do I feel so tired? Yet, if I don't, why can't I just let things be? I don't even know what love is any more.
Sometimes I just want to go away for a long long time, forget about everything, and come back to see what has changed.

At nights it's the worst.
I toss and turn in my empty bed, trying to break free.
I swear, sometimes I feel messed up.
I'm immersing myself in classical music, and Shakespeare. The great anaesthetics. But their effectiveness decreases after a while.

I'm just going to blame it on the summer restlessness.
I can't wait until Moncton.
I can't wait until school starts.

But I can't keep hurting myself.
I have to stop.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Reading List - Summer 2011

It's been a long time since I've updated. I don't know why; I just didn't feel like posting anything for a long long time. Plus, school's been really busy last semester--even though I only have 5 classes. Weird. Anyway, since classes are over, I thought it'd be nice to start another reading list. This summer, my goal will be to read at least three novels every two weeks, with some poetry interspersed in between. Moreover, I think I'll write a short comment and review of each book, and I might even do some analysis for books I really really like.

The books I choose are not limited to works traditionally considered "literature". I think in order to become a critical reader you really have to read a lot of different genres of novels. I'd like to read some fantasy, science fiction, graphic novels, pulp fiction, you name it! Rereads of books also count--it's impossible to get everything from a novel or poem in a first or even a second reading, after all.

Here's the list.

1) The Farthest Shore - Ursula Le Guin (April 12-13)
2) Dragons of Winter Night -Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman (April 22-25)
3) Fifth Business - Robertson Davies (April 25 - 30)
4) The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald (May 3 - May 7)
5) To the Lighthouse - Virginia Woolf (May 9 - 12)
6) Macbeth - Shakespeare (May 13 - 15)
7) The Manticore - Robertson Davies (May 15 - 19)
8) Hamlet - Shakespeare (May 28 - June 2)
A Midsummer Night's Dream - Shakespeare (June 2 - 7)

The Sun Also Rises
The Fellowship of the Ring

Want to Read
"Song of Myself" (complete) - Walt Whitman

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


I didn't make DragonBoat. It's a good thing because because I think, truthfully, either way I wouldn't have cared very much. I say this not because I am bitter from not making the team; rather, it's because I've been rejected from the team that I can see more clearly now. Trying to mold myself into a part of this team has cost me.

I have lost time, and also I have lost myself. Recently Andrew made me realize I've become rather complacent regarding queer issues and goals I used to be focused on. And he's right. Rather than continue the fight against sexual discrimination as I'd been doing, I've been avoiding those issues because I didn't think other people of the team wanted to talk about them. Rather than presenting myself as a confident gay man unwilling to compromise issues important to him - as in the past - I've crumbled, and compromised.

Are athletics really that important to me? Not really. I have felt more fit in the last few months - but that's it. At the end of the day does my body, my already-fine health matter in the grand scheme of things?

And at the end of the day, does making friends matter to me? If there's one thing I've learned, it is that my duty on Earth is not primarily to make friends. It is not my duty on Earth to work in a team. I think I have been and will always be an independent thinker and someone who lives by my own principles and visions. In fact I'm a loner. But I think that's wholly natural. Working on a team bends these principles and skews these visions and while teamwork is a valuable skill to have, perhaps it is a skill better left to other people. That is not to say I don't need friends, because when I meet people I do click with I love those relationships.

And that is not to say I don't enjoy meeting people. But often a casual acquaintance is enough - enough for a lifetime.

Dearest, I have lost much, and have gained in place not enough.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

To Stop Feeling Futile

We discussed "Song of Myself" in poetry tutorial today. I have not yet read the whole thing, but I think it is beautiful. My favourite section so far is the following passage:
Through me forbidden voices,
Voices of sexes and lusts, voices veil'd and I remove the veil,
Voices indecent by me clarified and transfigur'd.

I do not press my fingers across my mouth,
I keep as delicate around the bowels as around the head and heart,
Copulation is no more rank to me than death is.

I believe in the flesh and the appetites,
Seeing, hearing, feeling, are miracles, and each part and tag of me is a miracle.

Divine am I inside and out, and I make holy whatever I touch or am touch'd from,
The scent of these arm-pits aroma finer than prayer,
This head more than churches, bibles, and all the creeds.
What I recognize in this passage is courage - the courage that must have been necessary, in Whitman's time, to stand up for the status of the body and the value of sex. Evidently this courage would be necessary even today, as people were laughing in my poetry class about his erotic language.

What Whitman reminded me is that poets must write for the people, and that poets must stick true to their vision. Poetry is not just a vehicle for excessive emotions. Poetry has the power of vivid and sometimes frightening imagery, as well as memorable phrasing - they use these tricks all the time in advertising - so it does have, in part, the responsibility of nurturing new values, of changing the societal landscape.

I am only twenty. It is stupid to be anxious over whether or not I will end a writer, just because I don't always have a poem in progress in my mind. I do not yet have the vision Whitman or Wordsworth had. The important thing is that I've pushed myself. But beyond that, it doesn't matter if I don't get published or not this year. I've done a lot of work this school year already: I've started to learn about poetic theory; I've memorized many poems; I've pushed myself to read more, and to read with an open mind, and read not only famous poets but less respected ones as well. Because if I really want to call myself a writer, I need to live and breathe literature - the common as well as the canon.

For now, that's enough. No need to feel that my efforts are futile. I might not even become a writer if things don't work out.

School is getting better. I don't mind the labs or physics classes as much anymore. It is foolish as well to think that science is not useful. These will probably be my last physics classes so I'll just have to enjoy them while I can. No need to feel that they are wastes of time.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

How soon, unaccountable, I became sick and tired

I haven't been posting much lately. In fact, I haven't been writing much lately at all - no poetry, no ideas for poetry. I've been feeling lazy, tired, sick.

Part of it is school. I just don't really like my classes, other than Fantasy&Horror and Poetry. Apart from those two courses, this term I have Practical Physics, Classical Mechanics, and Basic Statistical Mechanics. In fact I added Classical Mechanics after dropping two classes - Introduction to Real Analysis, and Theories of Sexuality: Contemporary Perspectives. The former I dropped because I did not have enough energy to sit through another math class for a semester; the latter I felt was too philosophical. I'd bought the textbook--non-refundable--and I was sitting through the second class and halfway through I realized I had no idea what the professor was talking about, and moreover that I felt sick discussing sex through a lens so philosophical. I preferred the approach we took in UNI255, investigating studies of actual human sexual behaviour, not examining vague declarations how sexuality is "liminal" or how it simultaneously "permeates, fuels, and yet subtracts itself from the predominant economy of exchange in capitalist societies" -- which is basically saying nothing, nothing, nothing at all.

Subsequently I swallowed my pride and emailed the whole class to resell my non-refundable textbook for a slightly lower price, then dropped the course, and math. I needed a 5th course, and I'd sat through the first class of Classical Mechanics and it's the only core third-year physics course I lack, so it was the logical choice. As well, Adrienne, Desmond and Cassie are in the class.

Recently, though, I've been overwhelmed by the despair that I get from studying science. I had a long chat with Adrienne tonight about this and I recalled this poem by Walt Whitman, entitled "When I heard the learn'd astronomer".
When I heard the learn'd astronomer;
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me;
When I was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add, divide, and measure
When I, sitting, heard the astronomer, where he lectured with much applause in
the lecture-room,
How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick;
Till rising and gliding out, I wander'd off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look'd up in perfect silence at the stars.
I used to dislike this poem, used to think, "What does Whitman know about astronomy and physics?" But perhaps he knew more, because right now science makes me feel just sick to the core. In my childhood I remember being entranced by the planets, the cratered face of Mercury, the smooth icy crust of Europa under which lay a vast subterranean ocean. This fascination with space is what drew me to physics in the first place. But this fascination is gone and in its place only a deep sense of loss.

In my Fantasy&Horror class, we read Tolkien's "On Fairy Stories" -- his treatise on the genre of fantasy literature. In it he talked about "recovery", the regaining of a clear view of our universe. And he says, "We should look at green again, and be startled anew (but not blinded) by blue and yellow and red. We should meet the centaur and the dragon, and then perhaps suddenly behold, like the ancient shepherds, sheep, and dogs, and horses— and wolves. This recovery fairy-stories help us to make."

This is what I need. Recovery. The power to behold even the planets and stars anew. This light only literature ignites, only language calls forth.

Monday, January 17, 2011

To The New Year

My new years' resolutions.

To sleep more. To sleep on time. To learn how to manage my time. To write more. Perhaps more importantly, to write without self-censorship. And to write without shame: to transcend that paralyzing emotion. To not worry about whether written works are successes or failures. To write a little every day - it adds up. To experiment with a larger amount of poetic forms and imagery. To get published. To read more. To survey, absorb, and experience different kinds of writing and of literature. To become more aware of language, and how writers in the past have used it. To learn how to rhyme in more interesting ways. More broadly, to become more involved in the arts: to play piano more frequently, to become exposed to different types of music. To help in the fight against sexual discrimination of all kinds. To develop the vocabulary necessary to talk and argue convincingly about sexuality. And again, to talk without sex and its associated subjects without shame. To join an anti-homophobia group. To develop a personal philosophy. To stand up for my own principles. To accept responsibility; to reflect on faults; to look on the world with unwavering humility and wonder. To forgive when understanding is not possible. To remember, cherish, love.

Here's to the new year, everyone.