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This is awesome. Utterly awesome.

An Elegy from Zadie Smith

excerpt from Elegy for a Country’s Seasons by Zadie Smith

"What ‘used to be’ is painful to remember. Forcing the spike of an unlit firework into the cold, dry ground. Admiring the frost on the holly berries, en route to school. Taking a long, restorative walk on Boxing Day in the winter glare. Whole football pitches crunching underfoot. A bit of sun on Pancake Day; a little more for the Grand National. Chilly April showers, Wimbledon warmth. July weddings that could trust in fine weather…

The weather has changed, is changing, and with it so many seemingly small things—quite apart from train tracks and houses, livelihoods and actual lives—are being lost. It was easy to assume, for example, that we would always be able to easily find a hedgehog in some corner of a London garden, pick it up in cupped hands, and unfurl it for our children—or go on a picnic and watch fat bumblebees crawling over the mouth of an open jam jar. Every country has its own version of this local sadness.

Sing an elegy for the washed away! For the cycles of life, for the saltwater marshes, the houses, the humans—whole islands of humans. Going, going, gone! But not quite yet. The apocalypse is always usefully cast into the future—unless you happen to live in Mauritius, or Jamaica, or the many other perilous spots. According to recent reports, “if emissions of global greenhouse gases remain unchanged,” things could begin to get truly serious around 2050, just in time for the seventh birthday party of my granddaughter.

What she will want to know is why this movement took so long to materialize. So I might say to her, look: the thing you have to appreciate is that we’d just been through a century of relativism and deconstruction, in which we were informed that most of our fondest-held principles were either uncertain or simple wishful thinking, and in many areas of our lives we had already been asked to accept that nothing is essential and everything changes—and this had taken the fight out of us somewhat.

The climate…. We did not think it could change. That is, we always knew we could do a great deal of damage to this planet, but even the most hubristic among us had not imagined we would ever be able to fundamentally change its rhythms and character, just as a child who has screamed all day at her father still does not expect to see him lie down on the kitchen floor and weep. 

Oh, what have we done! It’s a biblical question, and we do not seem able to pull ourselves out of its familiar—essentially religious—cycle of shame, denial, and self-flagellation. This is why (I shall tell my granddaughter) the apocalyptic scenarios did not help—the terrible truth is that we had a profound, historical attraction to apocalypse. In the end, the only thing that could create the necessary traction in our minds was the intimate loss of the things we loved. Like when the seasons changed in our beloved little island, or when the lights went out on the fifteenth floor, or the day I went into an Italian garden in early July, with its owner, a woman in her eighties, and upon seeing the scorched yellow earth and withered roses, and hearing what only the really old people will confess—in all my years I’ve never seen anything like it—I found my mind finally beginning to turn…”

read the whole thing at The New York Review of Books

What makes you a writer? You develop an extra sense that partly excludes you from experience.

I aint ever gotten high but damn if some songs dont do the deed.

Kurt Vonnegut Once Sent This Amazing Letter To A High School

Yup, amazing.

"No fair tennis without a net."

"You have experienced becoming…"

via austinkleon and The Huffington Post

Kurt Vonnegut Once Sent This Amazing Letter To A High School

Yup, amazing.

"No fair tennis without a net."

"You have experienced becoming…"

via austinkleon and The Huffington Post

More AWP Awesomeness!

In addition to the Foxing/Fantagraphics show at AWP, Write Bloody will be having an ASTOUNDING reading at Re-Bar on February 27th.

FEATURING: 
Derrick Brown!
Karen Finneyfrock! 
Buddy Wakefield!
Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz!
Brendan Constantine!
Jon Sands!
Tara Hardy!
Aaron Samuels!
Mindy Nettifee! 
Taylor Mali!
Bucky Sinister!
Jeremy Radin!
Stevie Edwards!
Jason Bayani!
Jade Sylvan!
Daniel Nester!
Lauren B. Zuniga!
Franny Choi!
Elaina Ellis!
Sarah Kay!
Daniel McGinn!
& music from Adam Falkner!

AND there is also the Incredible Sestina Reading, courtesy of Daniel Nester in honor of the amazing sestina anthology he put together this past year published by Write Bloody.

With readings from Patricia Smith, Paul Hoover, Geoff Bouvier, Ravi Shankar, John Hoppenthaler, Sarah Green, Beth Gylys, Sharon Dolin, Nate Marshall, and many more. ALSO on February 27th. That night is going to be un-freaking-believable.

Post-It Show

Some of the pieces I made for the Foxing Quarterly’s Post-it Show at Fantagraphics during AWP this year.

I won’t be at AWP this year but I have some doodles in the foxingquarterly Post-It show at Fantagraphics! AT FANTAGRAPHICS!!!

Seattle!

This year, we are kicking off AWP with a very special collaborative event.

Join Foxing QuarterlyA Strange ObjectWrite Bloody PublishingAmerican Short Fiction, and The Austin Review at the Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery for a Post-It note art show and reading. 

Featuring original work (on sticky notes) by:

Alex Schubert, Alexis Ziritt, Anis Mojgani, Daniel Fishel, Daryl Seitchik, Eric Reynolds, Jaime Willems, Jen Vaughn, Jensine Eckwall, Jesse Lucas, Jim Rugg, Katie Skelly, Kevin Jay Stanton, Laura Knetzger, Leslie Hung, Liz Prince, Pat Aulisio, Paul Hornschemeier, Raul Gonzalez, Roman Muradov, Ryan Cecil Smith, Sabrina Elliott, Sean Ford, Sophia Foster Dimino, Will Dinski, Yevgeniya Mikhailik, Yumi Sakugawa, AND MORE!


Proceeds will benefit a very exciting project we’ll be announcing that night.

Plus, COMPLIMENTARY DRINKS provided by Elysian Brewing!

The event is FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.

We hope to see you there!

SPONSORED BY:
A Strange Object
The Austin Review
Foxing Quarterly
Write bloody
American Short Fiction

The Winner of Everything

Last night my wife shared with me the current winner of the internet, The Ragtime Gals.

Second place, the before half of this then and now photo:

image

➜ Past Anger

Regarding the recent racist murderer trial. Thank you yet again roxanegay:

Some kids were listening to music in a car when a white man took issue with, well, their existence. And he was armed, and he was in Florida though let us not confuse Michael Dunn’s murder of Jordan Davis for a Florida anomaly. 

I listen to music loudly in my car all the time. I used to worry about doing this. Like, I thought, will people think I am “stereotypical” for doing this? And then I thought, “Why would I be ashamed of being “stereotypical”?” And “what the fuck is stereotypical?” And this sort of interrogation is one I regularly put myself through. What will “white people” think if I do X, Y, or Z? I don’t even realize I’m doing it, half the time and then I get mad at the world and start punching air. Fuck you. I’m black. Deal with it. This is what living in this country can do to you. It can make you doubt everything. It can make you buy into the utter bullshit of respectability politics when you know better.  

I listen to music loudly in my car. It has nothing to do with race, and everything to do with having an awesome stereo system and a love of music. But, the rules are always different for black people. You don’t get to enjoy simple pleasures without consequences.

Some kids are listening to music in a car when a white man opens fire in them after a verbal altercation. It sickens me to type these words, to think them, to know them to be true. They were being teenagers.

When I was a kid, the teenagers in West Omaha would cruise Center Street because it was Nebraska. There was nothing else to do. They blasted their music. They left their empties in grocery store parking lots. And for a long time, no one fretted over it because they were all white.

If it were kids from North Omaha, where most of the black people live, it would have been an entirely different story. I didn’t know much about North Omaha growing up, but on Saturdays, my mom took me there to get my hair done because she didn’t know how to do it. That’s when I first saw black people other than my family, or Haitians. And I saw how different that neighborhood was from mine—run down, abandoned but not. I was too young to understand that I was seeing American poverty and segregation. As I got older, the stories began about North Omaha, as this dangerous, gang infested place. It was strange to hear these stories, because I never saw that North Omaha. I saw the kind women who had beautiful hairdos and smelled like cocoa butter and did my hair and told me stories, and hushed me when the relaxer started burning, and who laughed with my mother as they talked about things I was too young to understand.  I was also too young to understand how lucky I was to live in a manicured suburb where my biggest struggle was white kids wanting to “touch my hair.” Privilege is a motherfucker and only now, as an adult, do I truly understand. 

I want to say I am angry but what I feel is past anger. It’s a lonelier place than that, tinged with exhaustion, or weariness but what a shameful luxury it is to be in this place, to have the time to ponder injustice instead of living with it in the brutal ways so many people around the world do.

The jurors from the Michael Dunn trial are now talking. Most of them wanted to convict Dunn of murder but there were two doubters, two people who thought a grown man with a gun was acting in self-defense because he felt threatened by some unarmed kids listening to loud music in a car.

The press keeps calling Dunn’s trial the “loud music trial,” which is fucking infuriating. Loud music didn’t incite murder. Racism did. Michael Dunn is a racist murderer. Let’s not dance around the truth. He has shown himself plainly and it is embarrassing to see people trying to look away from Dunn, from this country, from themselves. Dunn’s trial was the racist murderer trial. It’s not that hard to say.

I want to say something about the value of black lives and black bodies, but honestly, what more is there to say that hasn’t already been said, each time something like this happens? I am out of words. I am out of… almost everything but again, that is a shameful luxury and so I need to try a way to fight this exhaustion, this weariness because somewhere out there, a young black man or woman is living on borrowed time. I am mourning them already but I want to do something more.

THEME BY PARTI