What Work Is and Why It Matters: Mourning Phillip Levine
"Levine’s poems gave my life back to me, in a strange way. They gave my life grace. Just the simple act of recognition—of myself, my co-workers in the poems—gave me back the idea that I could still live a life full of art. They reminded me that work, yes, can make us, and yes, can break us; and yet, we should accord it no more and no less importance than that. With Levine I relearned that the voices we have come from just being humans, alive on this earth, and that we should never surrender those voices."
Why The Fight for Civil Rights is a Fight for Economic Rights
"Writing this on MLK’s birthday, I have been watching the usual platitudes about King, the bland, empty praises rolled out by politicians and pundits and everyone else who would whitewash King’s legacy. And I have been thinking about how, especially toward the end of his life, economic justice became to King one of the essential engines that would lift black Americans up and would drive the country further toward true racial equality. And I have been thinking about how so many of the people praising King today would absolutely oppose any radical restructuring of our economic system; which is to say they would absolutely oppose King himself and what he stood for."
Domestic Fabulism; or Kansas with a Difference
"And perhaps one of the most interesting things happening in domestic fiction is the subversion of that term “women’s fiction,” of that original domestic space. Joyelle McSweeney writes phantom babies and revolution babies and salamander babies, subverting expectations of motherhood. Aimee Bender takes that traditional women’s space, the kitchen, and endows it with power and danger, gives her book a narrator who tastes emotion in food. Molly Gaudry, in We Take Me Apart, plays with fairy tale tropes and stands them on their heads. Sarah Rose Etter’s twisted, surreal tales drop koalas from the sky like storms, but not for the sake of just weirding us out. Like all of these tales, they seek to tell us something about family — in Etter’s case, it’s often about daughters and fathers, flipping the filial sense and yet making it filigree beautiful."