CURRENT ISSUE: Fall 2016
New You in Old, Old America (or 1 Month & 2 Weeks in Shit Tons of Pain)
You are new to Georgetown when you arrive the first week of June. All you see are rainbows—flags of them, banners, geotags, advertisements, merchandise. Restaurants and clothing stores covered in streamers fluttering heavily in the thick humid air. It’s kind of South, you think, but Georgetown is so beautiful. Your mother had said, “Don’t walk alone here, people will wonder what you’re doing in this place.” She has already trained you to make a habit out of being very good. She thought it would protect your body from all the people who wanted to break it. But here in Georgetown, flags waving, colors streaming, you explore sidewalks in the daytime, awe-filled and fearless.
Avoiding the One-Drop Rule
This past January, I attended a concert at Philadelphia’s First Unitarian Church. The audience in the church’s dimly lit basement was tattooed, bedecked in social justice slogans and, like most punk show crowds, predominantly white. Two hours into the show, a local hardcore band with both white and Black members took the stage. As they launched into their blistering set, I followed my instinct and, bobbing to the rhythm, started to work my way forward through the crowd. By the time the band had finished playing their first song, I had made significant progress toward the stage. That’s when the band’s lead singer leaned into the mic and yelled:
“It’s fuckin’ 2016! BROWN PEOPLE TO THE FRONT!”
A squat yellow bungalow trimmed neatly in white, with twin wooden planters that had never been filled by anything but tidy beds of gravel—this was the church where Rick and I first met as kids. Inside, a wide-open room, empty until we set up ten rows of metal folding chairs before each service, empty after we stacked the chairs in two teetering columns off to the side. Near the windows, the table set with plates of cookies and lemonade for after the service.
FROM THE BLOG
AwashAkdeniz: Turkish for the Mediterranean. Translates to the “White Sea.” Imagine: you are 8 years-old. Innocence means nothing yet. You swim bare-bottomed; you are afraid of girls. You want to grow up to be just like dad, and your favourite colour is just red. Last week your father, hoarse, defeated, spoke of leaving, at last, for good. Whispered sickly in mother’s ear – her hair, waves of sand, softer than the look in her eyes, the look you can’t recognise; softer than her torn, work-worn hands. Murmured a word more giant than you could ever have fathomed. Deep down you knew it meant time here was up. Pale, it rose in your belly, then, the feeling that you’d be missing, somehow, the rubble and the blaze of home. Recall: you wake up in the middle of the night to leave for the dock.
FROM THE BLOG
Home at Grasmere: Lessons from the Lake Poets
1. Our favorite artists are human. I’ve always questioned the accessibility of Romantic poets. I’ve always been hesitant in the faces of vast catalogues, of established names, of Enlightenment reactionaries, the free-roaming, the supernaturally-inclined, the metaphysical, the intensely personal. Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, Keats, Byron, Blake— skimming the tops of these collections in my AP Literature course had always had the adverse effect of revealing just how much there was left to know. When it comes down to it, William Wordsworth owned a copy of Paradise Lost bound in the skin of his pet dog, Pepper. No one is perfect.2. We don’t walk nearly enough. According to hosts of concerned locals, Wordsworth often composed his poems while pacing back and forth over the high mountain trails and lovely cobblestone streets of Cumbria.