Line Break: ‘Hit’ by Ali Blythe

Today there is nothing
on the radio in my head
but the hotel radio is playing
“Drops of Jupiter” as my nausea

waits by the tracks for the rush-by
to stop. Being in a train or a Top 40
is like being caught in a lion’s
mouth that is still moving very fast.

I know I can’t really put on
a body other than my own.
And I know I can’t wear you forever,
sick blanket, or you, animal coat.

Children and doctors
are precise with their removals
of the heart and other
unmentionables. I am,

after all, alive, with a hint
occasionally of their fluttering
knives. When sense stops
coming through and the station

overruns with static
I get a rubbed-the-wrong-way
backlit feeling that is high
and whipping like the wind

reading Monday’s paper.
Not much in it if it comes at all.
I hope something is about to
pick me up in its mouth and run.

.

Ali Blythe’s poetry has been published in multiple literary journals and magazines including Descant, PRISM International, The Malahat Review and This Magazine. ‘Hit’ is from a first book of poems, Twoism, forthcoming with Icehouse Poetry at Goose Lane Editions on September 15, 2015. It can be pre-ordered at Amazon.com and Amazon.ca. CBC named Twoism one of the hottest Canadian poetry collections coming out this fall.

Ali is a friend and former classmate of mine in the writing program at the University of Victoria. Ali’s poetry blew me away from the first workshop we had together, and I’m honoured to feature the work here. Ali, thank you and congratulations on Twoism!

~C.

Tonight in Portland: Alabama Shakes!

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A couple years ago, I saw a band I’d never heard of perform on Saturday Night Live that blew me away. The singer Brittany Howard’s voice and stage presence was so distinct and powerful that I was completely mesmerized by her.

This is the clip…

Tonight I’ll be seeing Alabama Shakes live at Edgefield, an outdoor venue outside of Portland. Joe and I got tickets a few months ago and will be joined by our good friend Sam and a couple other folks. The band released their second album, Sound & Color, in April, and are touring across North America. After watching these recent performances from Lollapooza, I’m even more excited — they’re incredible!

In an excellent New York Times profile, the writer Joe Rhodes describes Howard on stage: Continue reading

Goin’ Camping…

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Tomorrow morning Joe and I leave on a week-long mission to camp with friends in B.C., next to Lake Mahood at Well’s Gray Provincial Park.

I’ve never been there, but the park’s site describes it as “a spectacular, pure wilderness area.” We’ll be camping four nights total, with two nights at my brother and his fiance’s home in Vancouver en route and back.

This trip has been in the works for months. Everyone’s coordinated through a group facebook thread that has gotten increasingly more active in the last couple weeks as we all prepare. Our crew includes 10 families, approximately 21 children, and a whole lot of gear…more so now that the forecast is calling for rain! (Huh? What? Did the rain Gods not get my memo about floating on the lake in an inflatable raft in the sun, cold beer in hand?)

Other unexpected factors that have been discussed: Continue reading

Inside My Best Friend’s Home: Vancouver Apartment Tour

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Every time I visit Melissa, my longtime friend from childhood, I notice different pieces of art on the wall, the furniture slightly rearranged, or a beautiful display of plants. She has a knack for making her home feel fresh, happy and put together with unexpected little touches. (Needless to say, her style has changed a lot since the forest green walls and New Kids on the Block posters of her middle school-era bedroom, where we spent A LOT of time. :))

Melissa and her partner Steve live in a 750 sq ft condo in Vancouver’s Fairview Slopes neighbourhood with their 10-month old daughter Lily and dog Rufus. I’m thrilled to give you a glimpse of their home and Melissa’s approach to decorating in my first Home Tour on the blog! She shares secrets to reviving a small space, a cool option for kitchen flooring, her (very early) morning routine and more…

What made you choose this home as ‘the one’?

We liked that it has a large patio and a small garden plot for us to do as we wish. Very rare for condos around here. We also liked that it was mostly a blank canvas. All the walls were painted white and the flooring laminate, which we didn’t mind, but we had a vision of how to improve the space and make it ours.

Fairview Slopes is about a 20 minute walk to downtown. It has a massive park, the ocean and Granville Island just a stroll away.

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patio 3

Did you have a design theme in mind when you started decorating?

I didn’t initially have a theme in mind but I found myself very drawn to Scandinavian decor so it has just kind of evolved. I would describe it as Scandinavian eclectic. Our place is north facing so it doesn’t get direct sunlight. I knew I wanted to keep things bright and have pops of colour throughout.

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Continue reading

The Only Shortcut

photo-1433162653888-a571db5ccccfLast night in yoga class, while we were holding a somewhat challenging pose, the teacher said something I’d never heard before:

“The only shortcut in yoga is deep breathing.”

Deep breathing, she said, can make tough poses feel like they go a bit quicker. Of course later I thought about how this relates to life, in particular to my life regarding the emotional terrain I grapple with around my mom, her health issues and our complex relationship.

Oh, how I would love, love (give anything for) a shortcut. Continue reading

Line Break: ‘Dark Pines Under Water’ by Gwendolyn MacEwen

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This land like a mirror turns you inward
And you become a forest in a furtive lake;
The dark pines of your mind reach downward,
You dream in the green of your time,
Your memory is a row of sinking pines.

Explorer, you tell yourself this is not what you came for
Although it is good here, and green;
You had meant to move with a kind of largeness
You had planned a heavy grace, an anguished dream.

But the dark pines of your mind dig deeper
And you are sinking, sinking, sleeper
In an elementary world;
There is something down there and you want it told.

 

*Gwendolyn MacEwen (1941-1987) was a Canadian poet. ‘Dark Pines Under Water’ was published in 1969.
(Image by Yu-chuan Hsu via Unsplash)

‘Round the Web: June 2015

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How’s everyone doing?

Joe and I flew back to Portland last night after spending the weekend in St. Paul, Alberta for my family reunion. I had the chance to reconnect with a whole lot of aunts, uncles and cousins, many of whom I hadn’t seen since my Grandma passed away in 2005. It was wonderful. Joe hadn’t met this side of my family yet, so it was really cool to introduce him. We looked at old photos, sipped cocktails that my cousin Quinn whipped up, hung out in my Uncle Murray and Auntie Jean’s deluxe RV, and sat around a fire in a big circle, all at my cousin Amy’s beautiful country property. Of course we invited everyone to come visit us in Portland — now we just need a bigger place with a guest room!

Onto this month’s ‘Round the Web…

*Amazing photos (and the winning entry) for Environmental Photographer of the Year.

*Have you listened to Obama’s interview with comedian Marc Maron? Recorded in Maron’s garage 11 days ago (for his podcast ‘WTF’), it’s candid and compelling. The New Yorker gives a great summary here, and you can listen to the full interview here.

*Just finished this outstanding memoir.

*Ann Friedman on why the Supreme Court’s marriage ruling is “a little tricky”. (I agree with this sentiment wholeheartedly: “Marriage is all well and good, but it should not be a fundamental way we access government resources and social privilege in our society.”)

*Incredible footage of the Northern Lights in Iceland during the Solar Maximum  — “the peak of solar activity that occurs every 10-11 years.”

*Vera Wang on knowing when to walk away…and start something new.

*Portland’s ‘Movies in the Park’ summer schedule. (I’m hoping to catch The Wizard of Oz on Aug.20)

*Lastly, I finally joined Instagram. You can find me at courtney.tait. :)

See you in July!

xx~C.

When My Dad Was 29

DC-260-7953561319_Page_4One of the gifts of becoming an adult, I think, is getting to see your parents through your adult perspective.

In this photo my dad is somewhere around 29. He was divorced with two kids, trying to make ends meet, building his career while paying child support to my mom each month. My brother Noel and I used to go back and forth each week between our parent’s houses, carting along a little black and white T.V. by its plastic handle so we could watch Three’s Company and Scooby Doo wherever we were. In those years he cooked a lot of pork chops. We ate Mini-Wheats for breakfast and spent the weekends driving around Saskatchewan in his big black van. The van was stuffed with Panasonic batteries and beef jerky, which my dad sold to convenience stores throughout the province. Eventually we got an Irish Setter and named him Charlie. He’d sit up front, tongue flapping out the window while Noel and I chewed on jerky and I sang all the commercial jingles I’d memorized. Continue reading

New Documentary: The Wolfpack

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Joe sent me a link yesterday to the trailer for The Wolfpack, which won The Sundance grand jury prize this year, and it has me completely intrigued. Have you guys heard of this doc? It tells the story of six movie-fanatic brothers (ages 16-24 in the film) who grew up in a four-bedroom apartment in New York’s Lower East Side…and rarely went outside.

From The New York Times:

“They had spent most of their lives indoors, cloistered in a four-bedroom, 16th-floor apartment in a public housing complex on the Lower East Side. Since moving into the apartment with his wife, Susanne, and their growing brood in the mid-90s, their father, Oscar, fearful of drugs and crime in the city, had forbidden his family from freely venturing out. People were ill-intentioned and dangerous, Oscar told them, and not to be trusted. “I don’t want them to have the pressure, the social pressure,” he says in the film, adding that he wanted his children to not be “contaminated by drugs or religion or philosophy, but to learn who they are.” So he kept the door locked, a ladder shoved tightly against it. They lived on welfare, with only Oscar going out, often just for food.”

The filmmaker, Crystal Moselle, formed a friendship with the brothers five years ago after spotting them walking around in her neighbourhood on a rare outing. She discovered they shared a mutual love of movies, and that the boys’ isolated upbringing was made less so through their fascination (and reenactments) of Hollywood films.

Vulture describes the documentary as “a rare, transcendent work of art.”

The Wolfpack opens in Portland next Friday at Living Room Theaters…you know where I’ll be.

p.s. Shad, the host of CBC’s q is interviewing Crystal Moselle on the show tomorrow (Friday, June 12).

Photo via The New York Times

How to Get Married in the South

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Photo by Sweet Tea Studios

There’s a tradition in the Southern U.S. that if a bottle of bourbon is buried upside down at the location where you’re getting married one month before the wedding day, it will keep the rain away.

As I mentioned here when I first wrote about our upcoming trip, my friend Dianna loves tradition. And she and her fiancé Evan were planning an outdoor wedding on the property of Maison Madeleine, a gorgeous 19th-century house in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana. So her sister Kendal, who lives a couple hours away in New Orleans, agreed to do the bourbon burial.

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Two weeks before the wedding, storms were hitting the state. “Four days of work, lots of packing, and we will be headed south to become Mr. and Mrs.!” Dianna posted on social media. “Now the south just needs to get all this storming out of its system and bring on the sunshine!”

As some of you know, Joe and I exchanged our vows during a typhoon. There was no bourbon buried in the town of Yachats, Oregon where we said “I do”, and when I say typhoon, I mean it was a literal typhoon (Typhoon Pabuk, it was named), complete with record-breaking rainfall and a power outage. I like to think getting married in a storm is reflective of our adventurous nature. (You never know what Joe and Courtney might get up to in this lifetime—they got married in a typhoon!)

So when Dianna started sharing nervous updates about the weather, I texted her: The chances of us both getting married in a storm have to be really really slim. (Knock on wood right nowshe replied.) Continue reading

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