Inside: editorial advisor Dua Abbas Rizvi reflects on her family’s memories of India’s partition; a photo essay by S. Billie Mandle, who photographs Catholic confessionals; Pádraig Ó Tuama interviews former Jamaican poet laureate Lorna Goodison; Yudel Huberman on Hassidic forestry; Ted Gioia on how free online art traps artists, and more...
A Letter from our Editor in a Time of Unsettledness
“It’s not an accident that art finds us in these moments, or that we find art. It’s my sincere hope that this global pause might, in a way that surprises us, be a boon to creativity, where the impulse to transcend tragedy becomes a fuel for your creative endeavors.”
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While we creatives apprentice ourselves to various crafts, aspiring to art that is “fine,” we might also look for subtle ways to decorate our daily lives with new intentionality. There is a training of the soul in the arts we live with.
this should be no wilderness
to be lost in
“‘Life has become better, comrades. Life has become happier!’”
In the sanctuary, I repeated a childhood prayer
I knew some of the words to. I’d skip
a lecture and want to skip them all—
that you commit some part of your mind and heart to an unshakeable belief in the logic of global capital, which means that on a smaller scale you commit some part of your mind and heart to an unshakeable belief in the necessity of placing a two-inch needle into an instrument panel over and over and over again,
As a queer woman raised Catholic, I have had a complex relationship to the church—making these photographs was part confession, part reconciliation.
is there a dove?
I certainly can’t
Leonardo is famous
for hiding things,
I used to keep my beliefs about hell tucked latent in the hidden place. After Joe died, they began to eat at their cupboard, like moths in a sweater drawer.
Laughter is one way in which I experience God, and so I want to write about the ways in which I am sometimes lucky to experience the divine, as friend. A friend who makes you laugh out loud, and who makes you weep. I’m a weeper, and that too is a gift from God.
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One senses that Kisner takes her time before she settles in: Is there a story here? you can almost hear her asking herself. And if there is, how do I make it my story, a story only I can tell?
New Year met me somewhat sad:
Old Year leaves me tired,
Stripped of favourite things I had
Baulked of much desired:
Yet farther on my road to-day
God willing, farther on my way.
There was the DC of my dreams. More specifically, there was the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. It opened before my ninth year; I was anxious, even impatient, to tour it and view photographs of the event that had captured my imagination ever since my mother had pressed a certain young girl’s diary into my hands.
“You once said that if you didn’t write, you’d wash your hands all day. This is true for me too, though it manifests itself in other ways: list-making, organizing, cleaning until I see disorder in every inch of my house. Writing becomes a compulsive behavior too, a way of finding clarity, of moving through the pain into something beautiful.”
On praying with the grandmothers of Florence: “I suspect that they have mostly accepted their religion as something like an arranged marriage to a nice-enough guy—a situation they didn’t choose but that nonetheless offers its comforts—rather than how I tend to conduct my relationship with God: like a tanking romance with a guy who can’t understand what I’m so worked up about, again.”
In Sonja Livingston’s latest essay collection, The Virgin of Prince Street: Expeditions into Devotion, faith feels more like a long, slow undertow than a lightning bolt. She spoke with Steven Wingate on how essays find their form, helping students find their material, and making her way back to church.