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Poetry Friday: “Underwhelmed”

By Jeffrey ThomsonSeptember 29, 2017

Put on your hiking books and grab your compass, magnifying glass, and shovel: this poem is taking you on an exploratory adventure. What the poem is tracking down is  the manifold concepts in the word “under.” Some of the poem’s “unders” are recognizable: like “under the splay-handed palms,“ “under the coral’s forest of horn,” “under…

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I Am Not Your Negro

By Nick OlsonSeptember 28, 2017

Near the beginning of Raoul Peck’s documentary, I Am Not Your Negro, James Baldwin says that in 1957 he couldn’t stop thinking about a photograph he saw at every newspaper kiosk in Paris. It was of the fifteen-year-old black girl Dorothy Counts, who was surrounded by a white crowd filled with revulsion at the sight…

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My Kite Boy

By Vic SizemoreSeptember 27, 2017

This post originally appeared at Good Letters on June 5, 2012. I woke at one thirty with a start. My heart pounded in my ears. My wife was warm under the covers beside me, in the heavy rhythm of sleep. Through the hiss of the white noise machine I could hear the wet clicks of…

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Painting Brings the Ancestors Around

By Natalie VestinSeptember 26, 2017

On a November evening last year, I walked to my rosemaling class and sat around a table of women. We represented a wide range of ages and backgrounds, but we were all raised with rosemaling—breadboards and spoons and carved horses and Välkommen plaques all made of basswood. We were all trying to invoke the people…

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Questions for the One Who Waits

By Richard ChessSeptember 25, 2017

I wait only for you. –Psalm 27, translated by Norman Fischer Psalm 27 is read by Jews from the beginning of the Jewish month of Elul through the Jewish High Holidays: Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year; and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. It is a psalm about how fearlessness and fearfulness come and…

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Poetry Friday: “Cellar Door”

By Marjorie StelmachSeptember 22, 2017

I love poems that stitch together memories from opposite ends of a lifetime, connecting them to our collective story in surprising ways. This poem feels dreamlike in its skill at just this kind of stitchwork. How simple Stelmach makes it look: take a phrase from poetry (commonly, arbitrarily) held as the most beautiful, and test…

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Secret Mercies

By A.G. HarmonSeptember 21, 2017

Ours is a confessional age, a time in which telling all is not only customarily practiced but also routinely lauded. To do less than unbosom oneself in the most candid of ways is both to endanger one’s mental and emotional health (a distinction I’ve never been quite clear on) and to frustrate the kind of…

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From Sophocles to Twin Peaks: What Killed Laura Palmer?

By David GriffithSeptember 20, 2017

This post originally appeared at Good Letters on June 1, 2012. One of the toughest and most important jobs I have as an English professor at a small, women’s liberal arts college, is teaching students to write well. I would love to hold forth on Flannery O’Connor—my lifelong literary crush—but getting students to care about…

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The Spirit’s Indwelling

By Elizabeth DuffySeptember 19, 2017

Beside me this morning is a child at the breakfast table vigorously chewing a Fuji apple and explaining to me the mutative abilities of a small vehicle based on the particular placement of a certain Lego brick. Sometimes the vehicle is a plow, sometimes a combine, depending on whether that brick is before it, behind…

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Parenting by Politics

By Brad FruhauffSeptember 18, 2017

The moment is freeze-framed in my mind: My eldest, Milo, red-faced with anger, his eyes hard but wild, a look I know means he feels both out of control and desperate to re-exert it. The yellow light of the floor lamps casts dark shadows over the couch and his face. Shoot it in black and…

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