Saradha Koirala

Tag: future

Stuff I’ve Been Reading on the Train #2

I’ve recently moved house, but thankfully this hasn’t compromised my reading on the train time. As term 2 gets underway, I thought it timely to update you on my commuter reading habits this year. (You can read about the stuff I was reading last semester here).

Goodbye, Perfect – Sara Barnard

Goodbye, PerfectI felt very invested in the action of this YA novel. Narrated by Eden, whose usually “perfect” best friend has run off with the hipster music teacher, the old “trying to help someone who doesn’t want to be helped” tension was developed in a way that rang disturbingly true. Eden was a lovely nuanced character too, in foster care with a family who carved out a symbolic piece of garden for her to work and dealing with her own own feelings of imperfection.

Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

Who doesn’t love Austen? I’m looking forward to teaching this next term.

I am Thunder – Muhammad Khan

I am ThunderThis is not my favourite recent YA novel, but I was drawn along by the tension and themes that feel important in understanding Islamic points of view. The main character struggles with controlling parents and, as a result, gets swept up into a world of extremism. The characters don’t quite feel real at times, with some clunky teenage dialogue, but the action progresses at a good pace and the choices and conflicts for the main character are important to consider.

Persepolis (books 1&2) – Marjane Satrapi

PersepolisPersepolis 2I enjoyed teaching this last term. Satrapi’s Graphic Memoir is another often neglected worldview – the effects of the Iranian Revolution on the population and, in particular, how these event shaped a childhood. Satrapi doesn’t portray herself as a perfect character, but she’s hugely likeable and struggles with all the normal teenage issues on top of bigger issues, such as faith, war, political beliefs and loss of family members. So many excellent scenes and the visuals are charmingly simple and affecting.

Homo Deus: A brief history of tomorrow – Yuval Noah Harari

Homo DeusI’m now currently reading Harari’s Sapiens, which is the back story in some ways to this. Homo Deus looks at where homo sapiens have come from and where we are potentially going, in a world where things like Google know more about us than we know ourselves; where we strive for immortality; where we’re creating artificial intelligence beyond our own abilities. Harari makes connections between topics that you never see coming, but are so convincing when they’re drawn together. This was an intense reading experience, as I couldn’t stop thinking about it and almost every conversation I had at this time seemed to be able to link to an idea from the book.

Take Three Girls – Cath Crowley, Simmone Howell & Fiona Wood

Take Three Girls.jpgThree YA authors each create a character who’s figuring themselves out and developing a relationship with the others. It’s not uncommon these days for YA novels to flick point of view every chapter and sometimes this feels pointless, especially if the voices are not particularly distinct or add interest to the story. But this works really well as the authors have their own voice and style for their characters and they interact beautifully. The book looks at some important ideas and the girls are drawn together initially by a “Wellness” class – a clever device for allowing them to be cynical and then accepting of self-care and relationship lessons.

The Shepherd’s Hut – Tim Winton

The Shepherd's HutI read this straight after hearing Tim Winton introduce his character and talk about toxic masculinity. I’ve loved Winton’s work for ages, and hearing him talk is so moving, as he’s a powerful blend of humble, intelligent, heart-felt and funny. The Shepherd’s Hut follows Jaxie Clackton as he attempts to cross the saltlands of Western Australia, escaping the home that has nothing left for him. He’s a deeply troubled boy, but I felt incredibly warm towards him and hoped only for his safety. The voice is authentic and consuming and the landscape – so often a character of its own in Winton’s work – stark and uncompromising.

Men Explain Things to Me – Rebecca Solnit

Men Explain Things to Me.jpgSolnit has become my go-to on US political commentary recently, but it was also useful reading her essays on the back of Winton’s talk, as she reiterates the problem of the patriarchy, reminding me that these ideas and facts need to be voiced by everyone, before change can happen. She’s scathing and funny, but hits you with the reality of a society where it’s all too common to silence women.

The Natural Way of Things – Charlotte Wood

The Natural Way of Things.jpgThis had been on my “to read” list for a while and I’ve been wanting to read more Australian writers since moving here. This might not have been a good place to start! I was engrossed entirely and compelled to finish to ensure everyone ended up okay, but it was a rather harrowing read with very little sense of hope. The detached almost dreamlike narrative was appropriate for the characters who, given their circumstances, were trying to escape mentally and physically, but felt a bit too removed at times. As with Winton’s work, the Australian landscape is characterised as a harsh and unforgiving factor to be endured or overcome. Don’t let me stray too far into the outback, okay?

Windfall – Jennifer E. Smith

Windfall.jpgI read this as much needed fluffy light relief and it did the trick. It’s very much a teen love story, which I’m not usually a fan of, but there are some beautiful moments and incredibly well-written dialogue. I admire an ability to capture authentic teen voices and show the rapport and easy connection between characters with clever banter. Teenager wins the lottery, but realises love is the real  prize in life. Aww.

Looking up

Did you see me at the platform

as your window approached, passed?

 

Or was my head down as you boarded

same train, different carriage.

 

I’ve taken a vow of silence in your direction

shifted bags so someone else can sit.

 

Conclusions are drawn

with sweeping gestures in the street

 

sparkly things catch my eye, I won’t stoop to collect

it’s enough just to know they’re there.

 

The optometrist prescribed looking up more

and I don’t blame her.

 

Look out the window through your own reflection

she could have said

 

focus your gaze beyond the tips of your fingers

as you stand, core engaged, legs strong

 

eyes on that chunk of universe

floating just ahead.

 

It always helps to know which station

is the one before yours

 

and which you’ll be at if you’ve gone too far.

This, Time

“I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.” ― Oscar Wilde

In the spirit of just getting on with it, I’ve started writing a poem a day. It doesn’t have to be great, I don’t need to spend all day on it, I may not even share it with anyone – and somehow those facts have liberated me. Okay, so this is only day two of the project, but I have a good feeling about it.

I always learn something about myself when I write a poem. Yesterday’s poem had these lines in it:

A future exists again and again I say:
This time is a gift.

My ability to think about the future comes and goes and it’s hugely reassuring when I can see those first rays of light above the horizon again, as I can now.

But the slippery nature of the future means it’s always renewing itself and therefore can exist “again and again.” Also, I need to remind myself that having time to write is a gift, so writing a poem a day is really the least I should be doing with that time, something I remind myself of over and over: “and again I say…”

Seeing the future can also help alleviate my anxiety and hold me in the present – enjoying now with a feeling that the future is going to be okay. “This time” is the present; right here and now is a gift.

Having explained my intention with those lines, I do acknowledge that “This time is a gift” is completely cheesy and the kind of memefied nonsense I’ve railed against in the past. So today I changed it to:

A future exists again and again I say:
This time, it’s a gift.

I hope the same levels of meaning remain: A view of the future exists again and again; the two separate thoughts, one of a future existing again after it had disappeared and one of me again telling myself to enjoy the present; and also the acknowledgement of the gift of free time – but I’m learning something else too. The comma changes “this time” so that the future I now see is a gift, something good, implying I’ve seen it before and it looked unappealing or possibly frightening (a classic role for Future to play).

These altered lines reassure me because the slippery nature of a future (note indefinite article still) is grounded slightly with “this time” – perhaps it won’t elude me this time. There’s something different (probably better) about the nature of the future I see…this time.

There’s a feeling of trust too if a future is being gifted to me and I can relax a little from worrying and straining to see or create it myself.

“This time, it’s a gift” also seems to lend more weight to the nature of time when there’s a pause just after the word and it’s reiterated through the pronoun. It expands beyond the present, which we know we must value and into that future – whatever it is this time – time itself is a gift.

But I’m still left trying to reassure myself “again I say: This time…” as if, naively, I’ve believed in this idea every time with as much conviction as I do now.

 

see snippets of my daily poems on instagram