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What to Read for Reading Week

| Chantelle Spicer | Spring Break within popular culture has often come to mean parties in the sun, probably too much drinking, and exotic locales, but the reality for many college and university students is a week of time dedicated to study, write papers, and get caught up on reading. This has become so much the trend that many institutions (Selkirk included) now call the week off “Reading Week.”

Hopefully, especially given the rise on awareness of student mental health, students are taking time away from their studies to do something they really enjoy.

For some, this may mean reading for the simple pleasure of story rather than the obligation of a syllabus. For others, it may be part of a New Years resolution to spend more time reading rather than scrolling social media. Regardless, studies show that reading improves one’s ability to empathize, writing skills, and reduces stress.

As we settle into reading week, here are five books that have delighted me over the past year

A Tale for the Time Being, Ruth Ozeki

I first listened to this as an audiobook while doing housework, but often found myself stopping to listen to the subtle magic that is this story. After two chapters, I had to go out and get this book so I could curl up on the couch and dedicate myself to the story. This book weaves together relationships between author and reader (breaking the 4th wall is so fashionable now!), past and present, humour and sadness, fact and fiction, history and myth. It would be impossible to sum up a narrative that covers everything from Zen Buddhism to feminism in a way that would do justice to the intricacies of Ozeki’s storytelling. Lets just say, if you want reminders of the magic that exist in everyday life, go out and find this book (if you are into audiobooks, the author reads all her own work)! I just finished this book in November and I already can’t wait to sink into it again.

21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act, Bob Joesph

Following a viral article for the CBC in 2016, this book explores the relationship that Indigenous peoples across Canada have with their land, governments, and the economy as defined by legislation. In an age of “reconciliation” (whatever that means to you), this is an important read for anyone seeking to know why and how social inequalities persist for Indigenous communities. Not only identifying problems with the Act, Joseph also explains why Indigenous self-determination would result in a better country for every Canadian. He dissects the complex issues around truth and reconciliation, and clearly demonstrates why learning about the Indian Act’s cruel, enduring legacy is essential for the country to move toward true reconciliation. Though it may seem a heavy topic, it is divided into sections that allow you to easily pick up and put down the book whenever you need to.

WishTree, Katherine Applegate

This is one of those books that is probably for kids, but appeals to adults who are still in touch with a solid sense of childlike wonderment. For those who are interested in a quick (you can probably finish this book in one bath or relaxing afternoon) , but impactful read, this one is for you. The story is based on the cultural phenomenon or understanding of “Wishing Trees,” which are individual trees that are used as places or objects of wishes or offerings depending on the local tradition. The story is narrated by the Tree itself, who observes its neighbourhood goings on, including a Muslim family moving in. This story has a marvellous animal and human cast. Helping Red in the quest for neighbourhood peace is a menagerie of animals that call the tree home and whose interactions add another layer to this story about the pleasures and difficulties of overcoming differences. The book is beautifully illustrated and sure to be enjoyed by almost any audience.

Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, David Sedaris

The only author who can make me laugh more than Sedaris is Douglas Adams – I mean laughing out loud on the bus with people looking at me askance. Similar to Ozeki, I highly suggest checking out his audiobooks as he reads all of them, sometimes recorded live on an authors tour, giving real depth and life to each story…which it should as each story is a sarcastically funny, brutally honest, and touching reflection of his life with his family, partner, the art of writing, or medical procedures (these come up quite a bit in his books!). With 26 stories to chose from, this book is great for a quick mental break when you need to gain some perspective and not take things so seriously. Luckily, he is a pretty prolific writer, so if you like this one there is plenty more to indulge in

The Sun and Her Flowers, Rupi Kaur

Poetry is pretty amazing – you don’t have to get invested in a whole story and yet it can still deeply impact you. There are so many poets out there, particularly female poets, who are subverting ideas of poetry imposed on us from high school English – Rupi Kaur is absolutely one of those folks. Following on the heels of her first collection, milk and honey, this book is a celebration of love and healing in all its forms. It is divided into five chapters: wilting, falling, rooting, rising, and blooming.  Each poem is illustrated by the author and is rarely more than 10 lines long, meaning I spend most of my time savouring each line to keep myself from rushing through in my hunger for the next one. Highly suggested for anyone who thinks poetry is too daunting or unrelatable. (also highly suggested is watching her spoken word on youtube – poetry really comes alive when you give it a voice!)

Fifteen Dogs, Andre Alexis

You will never look at dogs the same way again! This is a humorous, elegantly written, and profound novel that explores the “gift” of human reasoning and language when they are bequeathed to a 15 dogs in a veterinary clinic by two Greek Gods in a wager. Sound ridiculous? It absolutely is, but in the best ways. This is a short read (only 160 pages), but very effectively examines what we see as universal truths about human nature by transferring consciousness and conscience to animals. Alexis masterfully dissects the discrepancies in the way humans think and feel, by posing large questions, such as: What is happiness? And what makes a life truly fulfilled? What is the role of love in a good life?

Happy Reading! Have suggestions for books or responses to these? Lets us know at sentineleditor@selkirkstudents.ca


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Podcast Playlist

| Chantelle Spier | Over the last 10 years, podcasts have increasingly become the way we obtain news, share ideas, and explore concepts. Though radio itself seems to be on its way out in many regions, podcasts have spawned new independent broadcasting companies as well as provided a format for established outlets. Here are a few different shows to spark or expand on an interest.

If you are at all curious about the world around you, this is an amazing place to start digging for answers and stories. From technology and architecture to sounds and objects, host and network Radiotopia founder, Roman Mars, explores the life of our designed world, and how it affects us. Since the show’s humble beginnings in 2010, Mars and his staff have been bringing us well-researched and thought-provoking shows—without a single repeat. Since then, the show has gained great notoriety, having 150 million downloads through iTunes.  Not only that, if you enjoy the podcast version of the show, check out the website, where many more stories exist in both audio and article form (https://99percentinvisible.org). Even though the podcast has come a long way, it is still an independently produced show, supported by donations from droves of loyal and loving listeners.

Where to Start: My personal favourite episodes are “Wild Ones Live,” which takes on a topic not often covered by 99PI – the wilderness, and “The Mojave Phone Booth,” the epic story of one man’s relationship with a remote telephone booth. I’m also a huge fan of the episode, “The Revolutionary Post,” which explores the foundations of the US Post in relation to creating America. There is no bad place to start, and the vast archives never feel out-of-date.


The CanadaLand broadcaster presents a variety of podcasts that provide nuanced critiques of Canadian media and politics. Not only do you, as a listener, get a more in-depth examination of an issue, but also an understanding of how we come to understand that issue through media representation. The main show, CanadaLand, hosted by journalist Jesse Brown, is a weekly exploring everything from media coverage of climate change to government actions towards reconciliation (or lack thereof) to how different media outlets cover elections (ie. who owns what media). Other shows include the recent investigative coverage of issues regarding police and violence in Thunder Bay, Ontario and Commons, which is marketed as a politics show for people who hate politics.

Where to start:   Given that these are primarily news shows, listening to the most recent episodes is the most relevant; however, a lot of the topics covered are ongoing issues within Canadian media and politics. I thoroughly enjoyed the Thunder Bay podcast, which was the broadcasters first foray into deeply investigative journalism. The realities for residents of Thunder Bay, particularly Indigenous folks, comes through in the expert storytelling and facts presented. A list of their podcasts can be found at: https://www.canadalandshow.com/podcasts/

Ologies host Alie Ward breathes a lot of life and enthusiasm into a range of scientific fields from biology to anthropology – and some ‘eulogies’ you have never heard of! Each episode is an interview with an individual who is an expert in their field of study, giving “ologists” an opportunity to share their passions, answer listener questions, and provide us an opportunity to explore a topic we have perhaps never thought of. This show is regularly in the Top 10 science podcast downloads – and for good reason. Science and scientific research are often inaccessible to the general public, hidden behind journal paywalls and jargon, so this show is very valuable to increasing public understanding on a range of topics. Don’t be fooled by Alie’s silliness as a host – she is a powerhouse of scientific knowledge and knowledge activism as a correspondent for the CBS series Innovation Nation, and host of “Did I Mention Invention?” on the CW, as well as having written for L.A. Weekly and the Los Angeles Times. 

A major bonus of this show, besides being generally amazing, is that it is entirely funded by listeners through Patreon and merchandise sales. This means not only are there are no ads, but the accountability to listeners is strong with this one.

Where to start: With an extensive backlog, there is no wrong answer here, so don’t be daunted! Recent favourite episodes of mine have included Kalology (beauty standards) – the follow up bonus minis ode to this actually made me cry on the bus its so powerful – Corvid Thanatology (crow funerals – how cool!), and Selenology (study of the moon).

Modern Love is a podcast presented by NPR and the New York Times and offers listeners personal stories about the intricacies of love in today’s world. “Modern Love” is a long-standing column in the NYT and this podcast provides host Meghna Chakrabarti and editor Daniel Jones the opportunity to go deeper, sharing some of the best stories about love today. 

Ranging from familial to intimate partner relationships, each episode is a deeply personal and beautifully reading contributed by a fellow listener and brought to life by a celebrity voice. In a world of increasingly complex personal relationships within technology, this show is a reminder of our humanity within interactions.

Where to start: Some of the episodes are pretty tear-inducing, such as the episode “Learning Humanity from Dogs” (the unconditional love of dogs always makes me cry anyway) read by Ethan Hawke, while others, like the “Hunter-Gatherer Parking Division” read by Jason Alexander, have made me chuckle. Other episodes provide some insight into complex issues, such as “Maddy Just Might Work,” which explores the complexity of coming out as a transgender parent.

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Poetry as Revolution

“Poetry is the lifeblood of rebellion, revolution, and the raising of consciousness.” ~Alice Walker

A major challenge in starting and maintaining social movements—political, environmental, humanitarian, or any combination thereof—is engaging people to get involved, as well as staying motivated. Successful social activism rests on the ability to provoke people’s perceptions, thoughts, and actions in positive and innovative ways. By joining with artistic and activist communities, social movements are able to overcome many adversities. The issue is given the ability to create a new visual landscape and language, form new collective identities, and redefine meaningful citizenship.

This collaborative endeavour has a long history and bright future of success in furthering the general awareness of controversial issues. Ranging from fine arts to street arts, poets and musicians, artists are inspired to create something beautiful and moving by social injustice, natural degradation, and the other harsh realities of our contemporary existence. Coupled with the power of the political and scientific voice behind most activist movements, art provides a new way to encourage the public to participate.

Art has been a way for humanity to express individual and community identity, articulating who we are, where we come from, and where we are going. In today’s social environment, this kind of expression has an indisputable place in social activism. Using the many aspects of the arts allows for emotional connection, and also provides a new way to transmit information, ideology, and communication, reduce fear or anxiety, or provide a rallying point of solidarity. It is powerful.

Poetry in particular has long been the voice of revolutionaries, change-makers, and social activists.  

Below are submissions from two Selkirk student poets challenging perceptions of the status quo:

Waterway| Sue Skidmore, 2018 |
I saw you and called you a waterway,
Must be navigable, the definition says.
You look so still, sealed over with shocking lime duckweed,
hiding your small surface.
What navigates you?
The ducks kick through and over you, as your covering of choked plant-life
splits then reforms as they pass.
The beaver from down the way visits you
And splashes through you in the dark while no one sees.
Insects, frogs, snails, animals that I could never know thrive within you.
But you are very very small.  I cannot navigate you.
You are not a waterway.


This poem was part of an assignment for a poetry workshop which Fred Wah gave recently in Nelson, the topic being ‘Waterways’. 

Record Low 1 |Jane Anon|
The troubles intensify,
Inexact and messy
Struggles,
Fought among
Esteemed people
Bottlenecks of
Narrow minds,
Choking debate
Civility voted out
Widening the
Wildly tracked
Differential of
Critical thought. 



Waterway

 

Waterway

I saw you and called you a waterway,

Must be navigable, the definition says.

You look so still, sealed over with shocking lime duckweed,

hiding your small surface.

What navigates you?

The ducks kick through and over you, as your covering of choked plant-life

splits then reforms as they pass.

The beaver from down the way visits you

And splashes through you in the dark while no one sees.

Insects, frogs, snails, animals that I could never know thrive within you.

But you are very very small.  I cannot navigate you.

You are not a waterway.

 

Sue Skidmore Sept. 2018

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FEATURE: Kootenay Studio Arts – Jewelry

Kootenay Studio Arts (KSA) at Selkirk College’s Victoria Street campus will be putting on it’s annual Year End Show and Sale on June 22nd and 23rd this year.

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Trevor Unruh on Touring with The Carbons

Trevor Unruh
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Storm – Creative Non-Fiction by Paula Snow

Bang. Bang! Orangutan! Bump and swish; burble and slosh. Something’s rolling, rolling, rolling, back and forth, up on deck.

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Outside Looking In – Photo Collection by Spencer Legebokoff

Peek - Spencer Legebokoff

“Our environment shapes us, whether we like it or not.” – Spencer Legebokoff