On biodiversity, wild plants, and the legacy of Russian botanist Nikolai Vavilov.
“Growing up, my mother taught us three girls how to read our father’s moods like the weather, how to discern their ever-shifting winds. How to carve out a childhood at the base of an active volcano. How to survive the flash flood that was my father’s temper, rage like water rising fast. He’d yell, he’d berate, he’d snarl. He’d snatch sentences from our mouths before we could finish them and twist them against us. This was at home. This was at school. This was without notice.”
“The question What kind of writer are you? veered ever closer to the question What kind of woman are you? The world seemed to want to reduce the possibilities of my life to either/or categories—good writer/bad writer; mother/not mother—and I felt suspended somewhere in between.”
A mother struggles to raise a son who embodies the values she has fought for as a feminist.
Growing up in what she calls “the bleak Sydney suburbs,” a depressed Australian teenager finds solace in Joy Division and her fellow music fans, which led her to the literature that shaped her as an adult ─ an adult for whom Joy Division and uncertainty continue to define her.
For anyone that does creative work, Gabrielle Bellot’s poetic piece at LithHub is a salve for the times when we’re plagued by artistic self-doubt. In relaying her own struggles and in deconstructing the work of W.B. Yeats and Derek Walcott, Bellot finds solace and inspiration in two other writers who also sought to shed the “thick coats of impostors.”
“I couldn’t shake that crystalline, hyperaware feeling one gets on important occasions—on birthdays, for instance, or on losing one’s virginity. My father is dead, I said to myself, my father is dead. Again and again I said it, and still I failed to grasp what it meant.”
A chance run in with a recently-released detainee drives home that the border Reyna Grande crossed into the U.S. with her family 30 years ago doesn’t lead to the same place as the border crossed today.
“Are books to us as leaves are to trees, feeding us while we hold them, then decomposing and feeding us again after we’ve let them go?”
In this moving personal essay, Amy Jo Burns writes about how the death of her writing mentor, Louise DeSalvo, has affected her, and how reading Alexander Chee’s How to Write an Autobiographical Novel, and Sigrid Nunez’s The Friend helped her process her grief.