Steve Edwards contemplates how danger can shape-shift between thoughts, ideas, and action and what that ever-present danger means to us as we navigate being human in this world.
One reason to learn to tell your own story, I have admonished students over the years, is that it may help you understand someone else’s.
In this excerpt from a 2017 essay, the poet Ilya Kaminsky reflects on Russian aggression against Ukraine and considers, among many things, one scholar’s refusal to speak Russian in his classroom as a form of protest. “I couldn’t stop thinking about Boris’s refusal to speak his own language as an act of protest against the military invasion. What does it mean for a poet to refuse to speak his own language?”
“Over the last 48 hours, customers, booksellers, and other managers as well as head-office personnel have asked me for ideas on key reading material that the company has to ensure is ready, available, and relevant to a sudden onrush of interest in Ukraine and Russia.”
“Any single word of the 192,111 can send a player as deep down a linguistic rabbit hole as she would like to go, through thick layers of definition, history, culture, immigration, war, conquest, colonization, appropriation, derivation, coinage, conjugation, translation, pronunciation, and selection. As the great player Marlon Hill once said about learning the Scrabble words’ definitions, ‘If you are sane at all, it will drive you slowly insane.'”
“The only time I ever loaned Greg Tate a book was when I ran into him on Astor Place. I’d just come from the barbershop, where I finished reading Phillip K. Dick’s brilliant Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said. ‘I haven’t read that one,’ Tate said. ‘Can I borrow it?’ Without hesitation I handed him the paperback.”
“Kabul changed years before the Taliban entered the city on August 15th, 2021, and yet in the news and in mainstream narratives, I find it presented as a surprise. Surprise, I find, is another word for wilful forgetting, a different shade of amnesia. A way to talk only of those who were “saved,” rather than those who had no choice but to remain.”
“Small towns around Wisconsin are depopulating, the main streets emptying and shuttering. An American way of life is disappearing, and with it, an exchange is made. If there is no future for small-towns, what about local media like the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram? Who will report on the illegal acts of multinational corporations polluting the countryside? State officials undermining local and regional democracy? Who will grow the nation’s food? Who will work in its factories? Who will be the stewards of the backroad forests, orchards, prairies, rivers, and streams?”
In a period of trying to sell her novel, Danielle Lazarin reflects on art, waiting, and the space between grief and hope.
“Steve Edwards on Kathryn Schulz, Donald Hall, and the things we miss.”
“When it comes to bubble tea and Amy Tan, I’ve taken different stances, but the two have much in common. They’ve both become shorthands of some vaguely ‘Asian American thing.'”