How to be Relentless

A Photoshoot Echoing my Great-Great Aunt’s Watercolor

In about 2010, I received the motherlode of watercolors my grandma’s aunt Alma painted. My grandma’s last remaining sister was in the nursing home and therefore her second home, which had once been my great-grandmother’s was finally being sold. But first it had to be emptied. My dad knew Alma’s painting style, and he was […] Read More

Baldwin: ‘The whole story’

“All art is a kind of confession, more or less oblique. All artists, if they are to survive, are forced, at last, to tell the whole story; to vomit the anguish up.” ― James Baldwin I’ll admit I haven’t read as much James Baldwin as I might have, but the more I learn about him […] Read More

Weaponized Literature – Achebe

“My weapon is literature.” ― Chinua Achebe I fell into Achebe’s Things Fall Apart hard. It was a dramatic story that questioned the evangelical Christianity I had been raised around and in. It’s the colonized speaking back to the colonizer in the colonizer’s own idiom. Sure, it’s also a book about a center that doesn’t […] Read More

A nod to Something Fishy

I remember staring into a computer screen in a dorm room. It is the Fall semester of my second year at college and I am failing spectacularly except for Chinese I, which I will somehow get a B in. I want to say I’m the definition of someone who has given up, but that is […] Read More

Objections to Real Stories

“[Christine] Stark has done something in Nickels that deserves our attention. She has not only remembered, but she has resisted the impulse to editorialize. Instead, she has given us the pure voice of the survivor, and in doing that, she compels her readers to experience the world—fragmented, distorted, with fragile islands of comfort and familiarity—through […] Read More

“…a whole lifetime” – Ehin

“Some ties simply last a whole lifetime. No matter who we become.” – Kristiina Ehin, in Walker on Water: Stories from unnamed press […] Read More

“Rape, but no rapists” – Harding

“We live in a country full of racism, but no racists; rape, but no rapists. And the common denominator is power. To believe a rape survivor’s word over that of her male classmate, colleague, teacher, or superior officer is to upset the natural order of things, privileging the voice with less cultural authority over the […] Read More

White: “…the grooves which lead back”

“It is strange how much you can remember about places like that once you allow your mind to return into the grooves which lead back. You remember one thing, and that suddenly reminds you of another thing. I guess I remembered clearest of all the early mornings, when the lake was cool and motionless, remembered […] Read More

Bolger: “Who benefits from believing in the ‘fixable?'”

“Who benefits from believing in the ‘fixable’”? Who benefits from insisting that trauma and its effects have ended, from tying up pain with a pretty little bow?" – Dana Bolger This comes from a beautifully perfect essay entitled “Hurry Up and Heal:” Pain, Productivity, and the Inadequacy of ‘Victim vs. Survivor.’ Bolger doesn’t answer the […] Read More

“Histories Cling” – Adichie

“Our histories cling to us. We are shaped by where we come from.” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie I discovered Adichie’s work (Purple Hibiscus, and later Americanah) when I wandered into Magers & Quinn in Minneapolis late to a reading that sounded good. Adichie blew me away. She is Nigerian and I had read fellow Nigerian […] Read More

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