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Living Documents: An Interview with Vauhini Vara

- By Chaya Bhuvaneswar

Chaya Bhuvaneswar: Tell us the journey of how you came to write the stories in this wonderful, unsettling collection. Were there some that came quickly and others that took more time?

Vauhini Vara: For me, everything I write feels like a living document, up until the time it's published in a book, and I’m no longer allowed to change it. I love going back into the same pieces over and over, getting them closer to what they’re meant to be. I began writing about half of these stories in 2008, when I entered graduate school. At the time, I didn’t conceive of them as belonging to a collection because I was just starting out as a writer. The revision process was really long—ten to fifteen years—for all of the stories I...

Our America

Reclaiming & Correcting the Rock Aesthetic

- By Earl Douglas, Jr. and Darrell M. McNeill

(Photo: from the BRC photo gallery, “30 Years of Reclaiming & Correcting the Rock Aesthetic”)

The Black Rock Coalition emphatically and wholeheartedly condemns Jann Wenner’s thoughtless misogynistic and racist statements in the New York Times regarding women and Black artists. While his comments were beyond reprehensible, they are no major revelation to Black artists who’ve struggled with the White rock establishment from Day One: Wenner only confirmed and re-emphasized how mass media outlets have—and to continue...

Working Titles Excerpts

Coming Home (Working Titles 8.1)

- By Judith Filc

In Minima Moralia, Adorno reviles U.S. highways. They represent the irruption of capitalism in nature: “the more impressively smooth and broad they are, the more unrelated and violent their gleaming track appears against its wild, overgrown surroundings.” They are artificially devoid of marks—neither foot nor wheel can leave a trace on them, just as their manufacture is devoid of the impress of the hand. “It is as if no one had ever passed their hand over the landscape’s hair. It is uncomforted and comfortless.”

The highway as a landscape removed from human hands recalls the feeling of inaccessibility linked to the sense of foreignness and uprootedness. Does his refugee status color his view? And he’s not just...


10 Questions for Lisa Fay Coutley

- By Franchesca Viaud

When Buddha said silence is an empty
space & space is the home of the awakened

mind, he hadn't yet crossed his legs
& held his spine both firm & calm

in the smoke-filled avocado kitchen
of my small girlhood.
—from "Cuffing Season" by Lisa Fay Coutley, Volume 64, Issue 2 (Summer 2023)

Tell us about one of the first pieces you wrote.
The first poem that comes to mind is not the first ever but the first I revised for many hours in that way I came to know as really working a piece. A few years before that, the dysfunction of my life brought me to the page, which led me to return to school as a young, single mother, and this poem, “Small Girl,” which...

After Us

Erosion (Earth Primer #4)

- By Giacomo Sartori

(Countryside in Algeria, photo by Giacomo Sartori)

Cultivated soil is very fragile—just a bit of water running over the surface is capable of stripping away its thin upper layers, which are the most rich and fertile. The soil is then deposited at the base of the slopes, where the water slows, or poured into creeks or rivers that will carry it to the sea. In either case (and both often happen simultaneously), it is a permanent loss. And if the water streams down violently, it tears away all the best soil, opening up rivulets and deep ravines, eating up a stunning amount of earth, annihilating the labor of thousands of years through which the soil had been formed from stone. Steep slopes are not needed; water builds up energy from even minimal height differences,...

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