Writers in Translation

Media Diversified

by Sinthujan Varatharajah

A few days ago, I was sitting with a friend, we were casually chatting when I suddenly remembered that her father is a writer – as is my mother. I remembered that we somehow knew each other through our parents who again knew each other through diasporic writers’ circles. We laughed about it, about these close, almost exclusive circles that we unconsciously frequent. We were Sinthujan2both the children of writers who write in a non-European language. Yet we never framed ourselves as such, hardly see ourselves as such and rarely tell others, particularly non-Tamils about this part of us or them. Not even friends. I had to remember that her father is a writer, like I sometimes have to remember that my mother is one. I started to think about the diasporic people I had known for years, others who I got to know more recently, and…

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The Top Albums of 2014

Bob Dylan Wrote Propaganda Songs

top

A few days ago I posted the first 20 in my “Top 40 Albums of 2014” list (check it out here). Below you will find this year’s edition of what I consider the top 20 albums of the year. You’ll find albums from varying genres and possibly a few albums that are new to you. I think it’s important to note what I define as a top caliber album. Great songs are always a plus, but more important to me is the ability of an artist to create a series of songs that tell a story, that convey an overall theme, that complement each other, and that make the listener think differently about the human experience. We are moving into an age where most consumers are more concerned with hit songs, which is why I feel compelled to highlight those musicians that have stayed honest to the age-old art…

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Movies You Probably Won’t See in January

Relatively Entertaining

E: I have to be honest: it will be a minor miracle if I see anything this month that actually officially opens in January.  It’s all Oscar for me, this month and next.  Why bother with this slate’s trifling offerings when there’s so much fantastic stuff out there that opened in December and November?

M: I’m unlikely to get to the theater in any given month, but yeah, with things I want to see (Selma, Theory of Everything) and things I feel like I should see (Hobbit, Mockingjay), this month’s openings might not make the list.

C: I mostly agree — heck, like M I’m still hoping to catch some stuff that came out in November, like The Theory of Everything — but it sounds like a few December movies aren’t as urgent as I thought they’d be. Based on the reviews, for instance, Unbroken could…

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We Talked to Our Kids About Souls

Butterfly Mind

Swinging Bridge at Babcock State Park, West Virginia, autumn on andreabadgley.com Swinging Bridge at Babcock State Park, West Virginia

“Hey Mom, are trees living things or living beings?”

Our nine year old son looked into the forest then up at me as we hiked side by side along a gurgling brook. His dad and sister walked a few steps ahead of us. Upstream was the Glade Creek Grist Mill in West Virginia, a rustic wooden building with a pitched roof. Today its wet planks were framed by yellowing autumn trees.

“I guess that depends on what you mean by living being,” I said. “I think of a being as — ” I tried to think of words that would be familiar to him. I failed. “As a sentient being — something that has a soul.” The path was littered in gold, red, and toast brown leaves, and I kicked at a drift with my leather hiking shoe.

“Personally, I think of trees…

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Looting is a Response, Not an Opportunity

Scott Woods Makes Lists

We need to reexamine looting.

Regarding its critics, let me start by saying that, at the level of determining solid community building options, critics of looting are right: it’s not productive. What is built from looting? Not much. Certainly nothing in the concrete world. On top of that, looting is illegal. It is against the law to break into a building and take what’s inside of it out. I don’t think anybody is confused about that, or believes that taking things out of a liquor store or burning down a Little Caesars should be confused with an urban renewal initiative. None of this, however, means that looting has no merit as an act.

Looting is a response, not an opportunity. Looting doesn’t randomly happen. Looting is what happens after something else has happened to a group of people that feel disenfranchised. There are not bands of random black people running…

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Amy Monticello on Dear Sugar #39, “The Baby Bird”

Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies

Screen Shot 2015-01-05 at 7.23.23 AMAmy Monticello’s work has appeared in The Iron Horse Literary Review, Brevity, Redivider, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. She is the author of Close Quarters (Sweet Publications), and an assistant professor at Suffolk University. She lives in Boston with her husband and daughter.


In nonfiction, there’s a better self—a more clear-eyed, compassionate, empathetic self—I hope my students will reach for through writing about real people and situations. Through whatever wincing confessions and honest characterizations may be necessary, I want my students to write in order to illuminate the threads of desire and fear and love and pain that connect us. It’s a tall order: be better on the page than you are in real life.

To that end, I’ve created an assignment based on the advice column Dear Sugar on The Rumpus, helmed, from 2010-2012, by Cheryl Strayed (now a podcast featuring Strayed and Steve Almond). What makes…

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