As part of our collection of reading lists on key focus areas, explore these selected works that speak to democracy and protest in the US and abroad.
- In “ruckus,” helicopters hover overhead as Vaughn M. Watson reflects on protests in the US in support of Black lives and a nation grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Vonani Bili’s poem “Mandela at 91,” from Issue 04’s portfolio of South African poets, reflects on Mandela’s life and legacy and the state of democracy in South Africa.
- “4,645+” by María Luisa Arroyo Cruzado, from Issue 16’s portfolio De Puerto Rico: Un año después de la tormenta | From Puerto Rico: One year after the storm, discusses Hurricane Maria’s unequal toll and asks, “One mainland Caucasian / = how many island Puerto Ricans? Dead or alive?”
- These poems from The Life Assignment, Ricardo Alberto Maldonado’s debut collection, are direct criticisms of the US and Puerto Rican governments, protesting an attention to capital over humanity.
- Shahla al-Ujayli’s “The Memoirs of Cinderella’s Slipper” (translated by Alice Guthrie) reimagines the Cinderella story through a young woman who seeks employment and empowerment against a backdrop of misogyny, protest, and violence. This story is from Issue 17’s portfolio, Stories from Syria.
- In “The Puerto Rican Day Parade, Celebrating Heritage in Mourning,” from Issue 16’s portfolio De Puerto Rico: Un año después de la tormenta | From Puerto Rico: One year after the storm, Carmen Graciela Díaz reflects on how a cultural celebration became a necessary platform for discourse and protest, and a means of keeping the plight of Puerto Ricans in the public eye (translated by María José Giménez).
- In “City Hall and Its Park,” Phillip Lopate turns his eye to the ways in which this public building and access (or lack of access) to this public space aptly reflect New York City’s relationship with democracy and corruption.
- Ellen Birkett Morris’s “Nobody’s Home” brings us to a 2017 protest in front of the residence of then Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
- Andrew Johnson’s dispatch, “Charlottesville: A Nightmare Tableau,” restages a confrontation between white supremacists and protestors.
- Mik Awake’s “As We Approach the City” unfolds alongside Justin Guariglia’s “Climate Signals” exhibit, combining text, image, and tweet to offer meditations on climate change, friendship, and time.
- In his 2019 essay “The Art of Grief: ‘Windows and Mirrors,’” Robert F. Sommer reflects on the mural as an overtly political art form as he grapples with the death of his son and the countless civilian victims of the long war in Afghanistan.
- “Home Invasion” (Issue 15) features works by New York-based artist and activist Martha Rosler, whose photomontages explore power, gender, and war in American society—themes as present today as they were when she first began experimenting with these ideas in the mid-sixties.