Reading, Writing, Listening: Author Spotlight – Bronwyn Malloy

Bronwyn Malloy is a PhD Candidate at the University of British Columbia. Her research centres on contemporary song lyrics and poetry.


“’Tuned every ear towards a tiny lengthening of light’: Listening for Weak Hope in John K. Samson’s Winter Wheat


This article posits weak hope, which I characterize as a combination of resignation, optimism, and generative delusion, as a productive framework through which to listen to Winnipeg singer-songwriter John K. Samson’s 2016 album Winter Wheat. In turn, I suggest that engaging closely with Samson’s lyrics offers up a kind of weak, tenuous hope for the listener—though we may not know exactly “what survival means” (“Confessions of a Futon Revolutionist”), we can—in fact, we must—“recommit [ourselves] to the healing of the world” and “pursue a practice that will strengthen [our] heart[s] (“Postdoc Blues”). For the attentive listener, the very act of engaging with the weak hope audible in and enacted by Samson’s lyrics can form part of a practice that “strengthen[s our] heart[s],” by listening closely and imaginatively to the radical, unflinching empathy that Samson models in his precise, demanding song lyrics.

Canadian Literature issue 241, Reading, Writing, Listening is available to order through our online store.