Posts by: Jeannie Yoon

Real, Local, Radical

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A must-read profile of Sesshu Foster, unofficial poet laureate of East Los Angeles, steadfast advocate of racial equity, eloquent witness to the changes of gentrification, full-time school teacher, and arguable embodiment of the vibrant tangle of roots that comprises modern Los Angelean culture:

In any other city, and in any neighborhood besides East L.A., it’s unlikely that a half-Japanese, half-Anglo poet would be so enmeshed in Chicano cultural production.

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Three Brilliant Poems

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I’m pretty good / at not loving / anything enough / to fear its ruin. / The cruel speed / of our guaranteed / obsolescence suits / me. This way / I get to be / at least one / of my favorite / versions of myself / every other week: / brooding philosopher, / race man, public apology / connoisseur…

In the latest release from Wave Composition, three brilliant poems by Joshua Bennett, drawn from the experience of our contemporary racialized American world.

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Oliver Sacks: Scientist, Seer, Sympathizer

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Oliver Sacks brought neuroscience closer to popular understanding and in turn, brought people closer to each other. At The Toast, Laura Passin’s thoughtful tribute to Sacks by way of memoir:

What he conveys in so many of his great case studies–is not a lurid thrill at the exotic mental experience, but an urgent need to reassess what we know about being human… Maybe it’s my own idiosyncrasies talking, but nothing could have had a greater impact on my ability to connect with my mother than to think of us as living in slightly askew universes.

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By the Light of the Maybe Moon Landing

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If someone asked to me to sum up what is great about my country, I would probably tell them about Apollo 11, about the four hundred thousand people who worked to make the impossible come true within eight years, about how it changed me to see the space-scarred Columbia capsule in a museum as a child, about how we came in peace for all mankind.

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Handwriting is Dead; Long Live Handwriting

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Type is the same, instance after instance, and the font you choose today will look the same when you type in it again tomorrow. The same is not true for crafting prose or poetry by hand, each looping connection between letters mapping out the inherently linear, temporal nature of language: the fact that for it to “work,” you must always be in the tumbling forward of reading.

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Figure Drawing, Or, The Posthumous Persona Of David Foster Wallace

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On the eve of a new biopic and on the long tail of posthumous publishing and popularization—Christian Lorentzen takes a long, compassionate, critical look at David Foster Wallace and on the ways in which a prolific writer gets written into the public memory—as intellectual behemoth, creative luminary, contemptuous snob, major depressive, motivational speaker:

A writer who courted contradiction and paradox, who could come on as a curmudgeon and a scold, who emerged from an avant-garde tradition and never retreated into conventional realism, he has been reduced to a wisdom-dispensing sage on the one hand and shorthand for the Writer As Tortured Soul on the other.

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Claudia Rankine and #BlackLivesMatter

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The American imagination has never been able to fully recover from its white-supremacist beginnings. Consequently, our laws and attitudes have been straining against the devaluation of the black body. Despite good intentions, the associations of blackness with inarticulate, bestial criminality persist beneath the appearance of white civility.

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Preserving Poetic Packaging

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Remember the literary packaging that Jonathan Safran Foer developed with Chipotle? Well, someone at Yale has decided it’s worth holding onto—the Beinecke Rare Book Library will soon add a complete set of the cups and carry-out bags printed with the work of Toni Morrison, George Saunders, and others to its collection of “publications combining poetry and unusual printing formats.”

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Toward A More Colorful Masthead

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A new, work-in-progress database of contemporary writers of color created by Durga Chew-Bose, Jazmine Hughes, Vijith Assar, and Buster Bylander aims “to create more visibility for writers of color, ease their access to publications, and build a platform that is both easy for editors to use and accurately represents the writers.”

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The Transcendent Topography of Tomas Transtromer

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[I]t’s clear this island has given him the notes to create such a magical, and enduringly beautiful score of poetry. And so questions about poetry, about its meaning, always wend their way back to the island, to Tranströmer’s grandfather, the poet’s hand often raising up to point out the objects and paintings around the room, as if they are the poems themselves, not the subject or inspiration of them.
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