In a focused and engaging Saturday Interview, Arielle Bernstein talks to essayist Karrie Higgins—the author of a 2015 Best American Essay titled “Strange Flowers”—about the generative quality of chaos within the creative process. Higgins points to the influence of forensic science on her approach. “I keep little investigation notebooks with rough notes, maps, diagrams, magic spells, experiments,” the author admits. “It takes a very long time for them to start to feel like I’m ‘onto something,’ and that’s when an essay begins.”
Meanwhile, Ellen F. Brown reviews Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Claudia Emerson’s last collection, impossible bottle. The author’s struggle against colon cancer frames the poems in this courageous book. Here, tragedy is the subject of and motivation for art.
And in the Sunday Essay, Stephen Dau reports from Belgium, where the ongoing refugee crisis exposes the true characters of the Belgians and expats who witness it. Regular citizens like Eugenie, whose employer is suspicious of her volunteerism, and Hamza, a first-generation Moroccan immigrant, put their reputations and well-being at risk when they decide to help. Dau writes:
“A few [volunteers] say it has given new direction to their lives, a way of engaging with the chaos that seems to be continually unfolding around the world.”