We begin National Poetry Month with a searing poem written for and read by Shonda Buchanan at our Black Resistance in the Time of Trump event. Her lyrical opening, which she sang, took our breath away and made the room sacred. Her words, full of pain and rage and the truth.
In TRIPLE CROSS KILLER, crime writer Rosemarie Aquilina, who recently made headlines in the courtroom for her historic judgment for survivor rights, takes us into the dark, shadowy life of a serial killer and those who hunt him out. We are honored to feature an excerpt from the book and a conversation between AFLW fiction editor Shilpa Agarwal and Judge Aquilina, in which she speaks about what inspired her to write her novel focused on children, voice and power, and her vision for creating real change in society.
In her new memoir, CUZ: The Life and Times of Michael A., Danielle Allen, a distinguished classicist and political scientist, director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University and Washington Post Opinion columnist, writes with sensitivity and candor about the tragic death of her younger, African-American cousin Michael after his release from a prison sentence that began when he was just 15 years old, and the pressing need for reform of mass incarceration in the United States.
Deanne Stillman’s latest, acclaimed book, “Blood Brothers: The Story of the Strange Friendship between Sitting Bull and Buffalo Bill,” gives an unexpected view into white America’s troubled relationship with its native population. Learn more about this fascinating story, with lessons from the past that impact current issues, in an excerpt and Q&A with the author.
An achingly honest account of one woman’s quest to reconnect with her body post-divorce explores the ways in which relationships mentally and physically shape us.
In BEGIN WITH A FAILED BODY, winner of the 2016 Cave Canem Poetry Prize, poet and professor Natalie Graham considers the wounded self trapped between poverty and memory.
A fast, furious and hopeful response to the #MeToo hashtag activism that went viral.
“Back then, being so comfortable in my skin, strong, rebellious, someone’s hero—that person will become a stranger and then come back throughout my life. That person is me.” A rousing personal essay on survival and resistance.
“Man cage. Man trip. The coal mine was clearly a space for men, but the salt mine didn’t feel as manly, somehow; it was more womblike, friendly, its body briny as flesh.”
“Is it possible to envision a world where, in a battle between a gun and a story, the story would win? Is that a question worth asking? Worth imagining? Worth embodying in our work and lives?”
On the two-year anniversary of the death of Freddie Gray, after suffering police brutality, laments by Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman.
“The news wraps you in lists, trying to destroy the light of your name,
Waxing moon sliver of light—metaphor for black Baltimore boys?”
The one and only Cheryl Strayed passes on her wisdom about literature’s grand mission, the long game and the writer’s role in grim political moments.
“The other day, my son asked who our king is. Normally, I would laugh — but right now it feels a little too precarious.”
“On a map, California looks like she’s hugging the continent
and Nevada is leaning in for a deep kiss.
She is tentative, he is a sharp-tongued,
diamond-studded menace, kissing her
and at the same time, pushing her into the ocean.”
A sweet summer’s beach trip, two girls and some filth washed in along the shore. A story of the pound and fury of an unexpected encounter, and the refusal to break.
“His urge began in the mythic land of Florida,
where power surges from the steaming swamp.”
“Hospitality is one of our most vital forms of resistance. Each of us must push past our hatred and fear to open a door, and each of us must find the courage to step in.”
“There is a choice we must make: to be on the right side of history or the wrong one, to say, ‘I fought in the face of fascism’ or ‘I just went along for the ride.'” On resistance, black joy, disability and work to do by #DisabledAndCute creator Keah Brown.
Our post-inauguration event, in collaboration with David Rocklin’s Roar Shack, was a powerful night of resistance.
Julia Ingalls has always reconciled difficult times through music. Hearing David Bowie’s “Modern Love” on the night of the election, “the song was now a lesson in how to battle alienation with a snazzy rictus, to stand among the brightest lights yet feel utterly alone, in the dark.”
“we, in the eye of the storm,
are a love letter, a prayer
that is more assurance than ask.
‘We will be ok,’ we say, we sing, film it,
play it back over and over”
“Poetry … must be tactless, falling down stairs like a toddler,
slipping into ravines like a dancer on high alert,
forgetting the words but remembering the way. Poetry must be.”
On the heels of the powerful Women’s March, when love trumped hate en masse, a message from the heart: Invest in love.
A call to action: “As the dark wings of native fascism threaten to blot out our sun, it is essential that American writers, artists, poets, journalists and musicians use their imaginative resources to push against that darkness.”
What does Donald Trump’s inaugural dinner reveal? We’ve obtained the top-secret menu and offer it up as an additional excerpt from THE POLITICAL COOKBOOK: A Compendium of American Dishes. Spoiler Alert: Misogyny Soup will be served.
In her latest acclaimed novel, LITTLE NOTHING, Marisa Silver compels us to look, and look deeply, at how hatred distorts not only those we fear, but ourselves. An excerpt and conversation with HAUNTING BOMBAY author Shilpa Agarwal examining the meaning of “other” and more within and without this extraordinary work.
Author and activist Désirée Zamorano questions how we go forward, but is determined to fight. “Each day the news can be petrifying, freezing us in steps. What good can I do? And since we cannot do this alone, to you I say, ‘Join us, bring your art, your talent, your compassion, your energy.’ Because there is no Wonder Woman. There’s only us.”
“Our role to make our country great will never be easy, but the American way is to get back up and fight for what this country should and must stand for. I am not alone. We are not alone. Sending peace and love to my fellow Americans. We’ve got work to do.”
Visiting Manzanar, a former Japanese internment camp in the California desert, challenged one writer to ask how to move forward after witnessing the consequences of U.S. policies through the lens of history. “To realize that, no matter who’s in charge, this is our country. We, the people, play a valuable part in transforming it.”
A poet’s reflection on fear, written on 11/9, after the dismaying results of the election.
Prose incantations written pre- and post-election by L.A. poet and author Rich Ferguson. All selections part of his collection in progress, “Everything Is Radiant Between the Hates.”
For the first time in her life, writer Alana Saltz is afraid of being Jewish. She isn’t alone. Yet history has taught her not to give in to fear, but to fight back and to survive.
“We live inside stories. Stories we tell ourselves about who we are, about where we come from, about what the world is.” Now, more than ever, author Samantha Dunn is committed to telling her story and to helping others tell their stories, too. “This is a long game, folks. Be the storytellers.”
A holiday toast to fighting the good fight. Get a taste of THE POLITICAL COOKBOOK: A Compendium of American Dishes by humorist George R. Wolfe. First, we whet your appetite with satirical cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. Then, main dishes and desserts. Vive la Revolution!
Ryann Perlstein, a 16-year-old high school sophomore, learned a tough lesson in adult politics when she interviewed a parent for her school paper. The parent turned out to be celebrity Republican Scott Baio. And the experience made her realize how critical it is now to take action to make a difference.
When the Electoral College cast its vote, our collective loss on 11/9 resonated doubly. How do we continue to hope when hope seems lost and far off?
Read an excerpt from “Wedding Bush Road,” a new novel by David Francis on the complexities of the journey “home,” and a Q&A with the author exploring the freeing power of distance and how the change of regime now challenges writers to “be more aware of the ‘political'” in their work.
“I hadn’t noticed the accumulation of paper cuts until now. All those moments when I gave a man something he wanted. I carry around these memories like a jar of stones that dream of shattering windows.”
An excerpt from the fiery, acclaimed debut novel by Jade Chang, “The Wangs Vs. the World,” and a frank Q&A with the author post-11/9.
“I wish I could make the piñata’s vibrant colors fade to pale nothingness, but I still see that mouth. It haunts me like a giant black hole, hungry to suck the entire universe into its grim, empty abyss.”
“I grieve for Los Angeles
Left behind me.
I grieve for Obama’s America
Soon to be gone.”
“Can you imagine a Saddam-like statue outside the White House — a massive, gold-plated tuft of hair blotting out the view from the Jefferson Memorial — bearing the words ‘Donald J. Trump, Leader of the Free World?’ Don’t laugh. It could happen.”
In his poems, Sergio A. Ortiz explores a range of roiling emotions post-11/9: feelings of longing and regret, resentment stirring at the emerging depravity, and warnings about remaining silent. But there is also hope in resistance: “Listen to how frozen hurricanes emerge from the dew!”
“I am Her. Every woman is, whether she knows it or not. And the tears keep falling.”
The premiere of the lyrics video for “I’m Not My Friend,” the first single off Ruby Friedman Orchestra’s powerful debut album, GEM, reveals haunting, true stories of those vulnerable to predators and a vigilante determined to seek justice outside the law. In the post-election glare, the revenge anthem takes on new meanings.
A poignant letter and apology from a journalist and writer to his daughter in this tenuous and frightening time mounting in our country, a promise to do all he can and a message for her: Resist.
A new, post-election song by Peter Harper calls on the need for all to fight for freedom.
A pledge we make. “Hope is no superficial undertaking, but demands absolute allegiance even in apocalyptic times.”