Covid Essays & Curation

On the day my new novel was due to be published, I wrote an essay about Covid, driven by the need to grapple with a menace that seemed amorphous yet all-encompassing. What began as a single essay has grown into a larger project in which I draw on the artwork of others. I can’t predict the direction of this project, but I figure I’ll keep going because I keep feeling anger and grief; I keep seeking and asking, without any answers. I don’t know what else to do right now, except observe, absorb, and speak.

I’ve chosen a painting by Egon Schiele to represent these essays. “Die Familie” (1918) is an unfinished work, left behind when Schiele died of Spanish Influenza. He was 28 years old. To my mind, Schiele was an artist unafraid of ugliness and truth—and able to render the beauty of both.

Art as Ritual

On a chilly morning in early May, I stood on a hillside in High Park, listening to a taiko ensemble perform amidst the cherry blossoms. […] It was the most humbling and awe-evoking experience of my artistic life… Continue reading

Wavering between Dream and Reality

We can’t be there this year, among the cherry blossoms in High Park. The festival has been cancelled, the whole park closed for fear that people will gather, trying to catch sight of the blossoms in their bloom. The risk is too great, says the mayor of Toronto… Continue reading

Test, Trace, Isolate

I daydream about it. Especially when I bike through the park, on the uphill: I pedal hard and fix my gaze on the road ahead, imagining the release from lockdown. It won’t be the world we knew ante-Covid, but it will be less hostile, more filled with hope… Continue reading

Visual poems by Maïmouna Guerresi

I feel calmed when I look at these photos… as if entering a cathedral. The photographs by Maïmouna Guerresi are monumental: triptychs ten metres wide portraying forms that tower, commanding us as we stand before them… Continue reading

Privacy, Freedom, and Digital Contact Tracing

Fantasies about a return to normalcy in the summer—picnickers in the park, baseball games, concerts, the ease after months of winter—are as delusional as Trump’s “aspirational” goal of crowded churches at Easter. This is our reality… Continue reading

“Help!” by Weaves

Jasmyn Burke, lead singer of Weaves, was roguish and sly when she sang at the The Longest Road Show, an extravaganza of female musical power… Continue reading

Coming to Grips

He cut a fine figure: uncommonly tall with long, unhurried strides. I watched from my bike as I took the curve, creating a pathway among joggers and strollers, the families in clusters and friends walking six feet apart. The tall man lifted his hand, but the couple didn’t see… Continue reading