“The Fire This Time” ed. Jesmyn Ward

There’s a cartoon by Ben Sargent, called “Still Two Americas,” that achieved internet fame a couple of years ago. It has two panels. Both depict boys at their front door, and both boys are are saying, “I’m goin’ out, Mom.” One of the boys is white and the other is black. The white boy’s mother…

Me and Gifted Kids

On September 28th, 2018 I visited the Gifted Kids program at Silver High. Nine teenagers and one teacher, Sara Sosa, were there to greet me. They were in the program because they’d taken a test and been identified as exceptional. Sure enough, I guessed within about thirty seconds that I was the dumbest person in…

The Other 9/11: Chile in the time of Pinochet

A few days ago, my 10-year-old son asked me why I’d scheduled an event on 9/11. “Bad timing!” he said. He knew about the Twin Towers. But he didn’t know about 9/11/73, a date of infamy in Latin America. 9/11/73 was the day General Augusto Pinochet launched a military coup that ousted democratically elected Chilean…

“Reading Under the Stars” – brilliance in Silver City, New Mexico

On August 18, 2018, the book-loving community of Silver City, New Mexico, came together to listen to Philip Connors, Sharman Apt Russell, Beate Sigriddaughter and Jack Crocker reading recent work. The event was entitled “Reading Under the Stars” and a few duly came out and lit up the sky although the brightest stars were the…

Beloved Bilinguals: Writers Working in their Second Language

Ha Jin has his characters speak in a slightly “off” English to remind us they are speaking Chinese. The author says, “I think in English, but I hear in Chinese.” Gary Shteyngart thought in Russian while composing his memoir Little Failure in English. As a child, his nicknames included Solnyshko (Little Sun), Soplyak (Snotty), and…

Nelson Mandela – happy centenary, Madiba!

Happy birthday, Madiba. He would have been 100 on July 18th, 2018. Mandela was the greatest man of our time. Courageous, unrelenting, humble, forgiving. I cannot state how much his example has meant to me and countless others. His story is well-known: his fight for racial justice, the Rivonia trial, his lost years (27 of…

“Bestiary” – by Donika Kelly

A bestiary is a compendium of creatures – an illustrated book from the Middle Ages – with each animal symbolizing some abstract moral principle. They are there to show us foolish humans how to live by the divine code written by Nature/God. In Donika Kelly’s debut poetry collection, there are beasts large and small –…