All posts tagged: 2015

The Electric City

We bought Detroit because even after buying ourselves new houses and cars, $253 million in lottery winnings left the four of us with a ton of leftover cash. Why specifically? One of our daughters found the ad on Craigslist: One city for sale or rent—slightly used; a fixer-upper; free from most city noise; lots of pretty, healthy trees and grass. The asking price wasn’t ridiculous.The mayor took personal checks. We wanted to be the first people who’d ever bought a city. Sure, important people sometimes got keys to them, but that’s not the same thing.

Julia PikeThe Electric City
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Yelabuga

By VALZHYNA MORT

Maria does her washing by the wall
so bare that you’d think she shaved it.

The window’s open, anyone can see.
Soap hisses. Air-raid warning rings
like a telephone from the future.
Her dress is nailed onto the laundry line.

Emily EverettYelabuga
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Reader/Writer

By DENISE DUHAMEL

Lady Gaga says she truly cares about all her Little Monsters
and if you don’t believe her that is just because you don’t know her.
They send her fan videos, tell her about the bullying
and the beatings
and she takes it all in. One night a bulimic approached me
at KGB Bar.

Megan DoReader/Writer
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Review: Emblems of the Passing World: Poems After Photographs by August Sander

Book by ADAM KIRSCH
Reviewed by LAURA MARRIS

Emblems of the Passing World

Stoic faces, stiff poses, graceful envelope rhyme—this book is built on the difference between a caption and a title, between identifying an image and re-animating it. As Adam Kirsch writes in his introduction to Emblems of the Passing World, August Sander’s photographs reveal “what is ordinarily hidden from us—the way we ourselves appear, and will appear to posterity, as types, when we stubbornly insist on experiencing ourselves as individuals.”

The poems that follow are based on photographs of citizens from Germany’s Weimar Republic, a period of political upheaval between the first and second World Wars. Despite severe economic inequality during these years, many of Germany’s most famous artists and writers flourished, including August Sander, a photographer with the ambition of documenting people from all walks of life. Rather than using names, the portraits identify their sitters by social class or occupation, and the poems use their captions as titles. Kirsch, who is both critical and admiring of Sander, carves these subjects from the geological strata of their history and attempts to give them back a semblance of individuality.

Olivia ZhengReview: Emblems of the Passing World: Poems After Photographs by August Sander
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On Display

In the cabinet in the atrium outside my office is a glass display case that holds, among other things, a beautiful kidney shaped vessel, its patina smoothed by use. Label: “Brass Pus Basin.” It is an object to stand and stare down at for a while, intentionally or idly, to move on from and return to, to see in passing. Nearby, as part of an exhibit on bloodletting and cupping, are 18th- and 19th-century thumb lancets with their sharp little blades and tortoiseshell and mother-of-pearl handles. In the next case over, a collection of 40 or so calculi (“bladder stones”) of varied size and shape, all disturbingly large. This is the Warren Anatomical Museum, at Harvard Medical School’s Countway Library, where “the dead teach the living.”

Olivia ZhengOn Display
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