Cristina's Library

Joie de livres

A letter from E.B White



It was wonderful to be shortlisted for the CBC Canada Writes Competition: The Song that Changed Your Life. I enjoyed reading all of the stories, funny, heart-wrenching, dramatic, and sad, each evoking a particular emotion and a keen sense of nostalgia, though their stories were not my own. I was able to feel what the writer felt, step inside their memory and walk around in it for 400 words.

Here is my story.

MAD RUSH by Cristina Rizzuto

I used to think that love was best understood in silence until I heard music. I have fallen in love with it before, that brimming shadow that gives definition to all things, but there is a special place in my heart for Mad Rush by Philip Glass. It’s one of those striking compositions that affirm the experience of life, bringing with its one note beautifully played, its repetitive melody, rushing images of love and loss.

The first time I heard Mad Rush was in the winter. It was a cold evening, and I had been waiting for him for almost an hour, listening to an obscure radio station. My mind was jittery with worry, fatigue, sadness. 
“And now, we are playing Philip Glass, one of the most important composers of this century. Glass composed this piece in honour of the Dalai Lama’s visit to North America. This is Mad Rush.”
He entered my car as the notes began, both parties at once contemplative and urgent. I calmly waited for what I knew I had been waiting for all along. As he told me that he has to leave me now, that he loves me more than anyone he has ever known or will know, I heard and felt only Mad Rush. The mad rush of time, of emotion, of broken hearts and tears, of the best and worst years spiraling slowly out of my grasp, piano keys hitting earth over and over again. We cried together, our foreheads touching as the music rose and fell. We had reached the inevitable point in our strange relationship, acknowledging the time to part ways. We knew the song would one day end.
Have you ever seen a snowfall? For a few moments, time is still and the snow rushes by in a daze, briefly veiling the world. You are mesmerized, staring at the beautiful destruction from a window, your reflection shining in front of you. The music is playing, and all the snowflakes that fall from the sky are falling in the right spot, this secret, intricate pattern unfolding around us, this gossamer web we know nothing about. And suddenly the sun breaks through, sidewalks clear, cars return to the streets. Somehow, it’s like it never snowed at all. The love that came so quickly into your life left without a trace. This is Mad Rush.

2nd Place!

The 15th Mattia International Poetry Competition came to a close last month, and I just received news that I won 2nd Place! Click on the link to read all of the winners. Here’s the poem and review:

Bay & Bloor

Is there anything as sad as reality?
There’s a homeless man who plays milkshake-flavoured
tunes on the corner of Bay and Bloor.
I see him in the subway tunnels sometimes, crouched over
an ancient guitar case,
the leather gallantly peeling after years
of artistic creation,
induced happiness.
He is on the street, playing to an audience of
careless, faceless people,
stray beetles, the one woman who
listens quietly and gives change,
a lone warrior for humanity.
Play a song for me.

“The decision to choose how we view the world and how we pen it – that is a writer’s stand. Rizzuto might be any one of us walking up and down the street. However, one can’t help but feel that the poet captured a moment rather effectively – standing still. There is a good hit here on introspection and it draws the reader in to, “Bay and Bloor “, beginning with well penned lines: “There’s a homeless man who plays milkshake-flavoured/tunes on the corner of Bay and Bloor.” The thought of what ‘milkshake- flavoured tunes’ sound like before any more information is provided about where the reader might be makes the intersection come to life (Even if you are not familiar with this famous Canadian intersection). We have all seen elements of what this piece portrays in every city. That is not the point. Rizzuto brings us to that corner. The cross popular sidewalk. Anywhere street. Most attempts at placing Canadian streets in poetry fall short in using street names – she made the reader stand there at Bay & Bloor and think about the last coin I tossed when I was there (and some other coins tossed into cases in other cities as well). Congratulations!” – Gerry Mattia



I’m so happy I discovered Alexandra Streliski, Montreal-based pianist and composer. Allow yourself to be transported.


On my writing playlist lately…