The Reading Room

“Like Rain, Like Thunder, Like Lightning, Like Fire”
Arts & Culture / Politics / The Reading Room / Vol. 1 No. 2

“Like Rain, Like Thunder, Like Lightning, Like Fire”

By the time James Baldwin took the stage at the University of Chicago in May 1963 to speak on the subject of “The Moral (or Social) Responsibility of the Artist,” an impatient authority was immediately discernible. This recently unearthed recording of the novelist, essayist, playwright, and poet, reveals a weary […]

In the Crawlspace: Hill, Franken, and #MeToo Pain
Arts & Culture / Health / Politics / The Reading Room / Vol. 1 No. 2

In the Crawlspace: Hill, Franken, and #MeToo Pain

On December 6, 2017, a coalition of women Democrats led by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand—Senators Kamala Harris, Claire McCaskill, Patty Murray, Mazie Hirono, Tammy Baldwin, and Maggie Hassan—demanded that Al Franken give up his senatorial seat as a result of sexual misconduct accusations from eight different women.1 One day later, Franken […]

Symphony of Combs
Arts & Culture / Politics / The Reading Room / Vol. 1 No. 2

Symphony of Combs

Image Credit: Satch Hoyt, Hair Combing Cycle 1530, performed by Ensortijadas Colombianas, performance presented at the Museo La Tertulia, Cali, Colombia. Photo Credit: Marie Helene Pereira, August 2017, courtesy of RAW Material Company. Prelude: Victoria Santa Cruz Me Gritaron Negra! Negra Soy! They yelled at me: Black! Black I am. […]

Some Thoughts on Citizenship and Poetics
Arts & Culture / International / Politics / The Reading Room / Vol. 1 No. 2

Some Thoughts on Citizenship and Poetics

As a poet and essayist, I think of poetry as creative heuristics, a means to investigate the world and experience through language, community, identity and politics. In poetry, writer and reader engage the contents of our categorical thinking, formally and informally (in custom and usage), as well as the limits, […]

To Shake or Be Shook Down
Arts & Culture / The Reading Room / Vol. 1 No. 2

To Shake or Be Shook Down

Once as a girl, she dreamed an urban kingdom. In the time of the dream, women of the kingdom were squatting over toilets, over gold chamberpots. There was one man—he was understood as the king—in all the imagined city. And this “king” walked among the women and among the pots. […]

The Hudson River: An Autobiography
Arts & Culture / The Reading Room / Vol. 1 No. 2

The Hudson River: An Autobiography

PART IV: VISIONS IN HISTORY This town’s edge, a collapsing shore, seems always to be where live the poor. In my mother’s time, they called us river rats,/ now the words mix insults/ of race, stones on our tongues we spit at others. * * * * * History’s latest […]

At Shakespeare’s Bed
Arts & Culture / The Reading Room / Vol. 1 No. 2

At Shakespeare’s Bed

Among the rubble of our wounded nation the vibrant image of a lyric warrior haunts my fragile solitude, the canopy above his sleep after long years’ scribbling blank as silent centuries since departed. Plays and poems do not heal politics. A writer’s skyward reach, earthly guesswork’s intuition, gathers straw and […]

Banana Boat Moon Selection: Five Poems
Arts & Culture / The Reading Room / Vol. 1 No. 2

Banana Boat Moon Selection: Five Poems

Banana Boat Moon And a hibiscus behind your ear like the exotically melancholy singer though you are a mad cap trickster who changes your birthday from hurricane time to June 11 on a spring whim in route to the place you claim to be born in it rolls off your […]

The Hudson River: An Autobiography
Arts & Culture / Convergence / Politics / The Reading Room / Vol. 1 No. 1

The Hudson River: An Autobiography

PART I: Muheakantuck Much earlier, for some thousands of years, there lived here the Lenni Lenape people, “the true people,” thought to be the eldest and who were given deference among other Algonkian speaking peoples of the forest civilizations. They are the first settlers and hence the ancestors of all […]