Strength in Tenderness

A still from Moonlight (2016)
Moonlight (2016) Dir. Barry Jenkins


Dear Reader,

“In books and films there are things that move me a lot, they are life's rituals: people sharing breakfast, people taking off their shoes when they come in, people who make their beds when they get up in the morning, those who don't, those that open the window to let fresh air come in, etc. Rituals. I am always told we can't film rituals; that they are boring because they happen again and again, but specifically that's what I love.”—Claire Denis

As I am writing this, it marks exactly a year since this interview with Claire Denis and her longtime admirer, Barry Jenkins, was published. It’s one that has stuck with me, perhaps because of how Jenkins unabashedly expresses his veneration—"Whenever people say there’s tenderness in my work, I say thank you, Claire Denis.” It is a fortunate thing, to have learnt from someone, and for tenderness to have been the outcome.

I am also lucky in a way. After weeks of leaving this task of writing to you on the backburner, the first place I thought to seek inspiration from was a folder in my email where I’ve archived past letters from all the writers who have come before me. I had put them in a safe place because they were always sources of comfort for me; a version of the tenderness that Denis and Jenkins spoke of, if you will. And in those letters comfort came in various forms, some of which include reflections on films (thank you, Khalisah, Natalie) and a great many poems being shared (thank you, Justin).

Let me offer you my own: a still from a favourite film, a quote I treasure and a track I recommend you listen to in the mornings.


(From April 18, 2020)