Years ago, in a bar, talking about poetry, a friend of mine said, “Poetry. What do you do with that? I guess you could always write chapbooks.” Things have changed since then, and chapbooks (usually fewer than 30 pages of poetry) are not just plentiful, but proliferating. See chapbooks from Tupelo Press, Sarabande (authors Louise […]






Mersault

The Meursault Investigation by Kamel Daoud Other Press, 2015 Kamel Daoud’s debut novel is a relentless reply to Camus’ The Stranger. It’s told from the perspective of the murdered Algerian’s younger brother, Harun, now an old man. A young Algerian, presumably a stand in for the author, has pinned down the old man in one […]






In Defense of Voice

by Hannah Baggott on July 5, 2015

Photo by dorena-wm via flickr. Creative Commons license.

One of my poetry workshop professors likes to start fights—to see us all twist a bit in our seats. I generally like being bothered in his workshops—his righteousness even admirable at times. He asks us to talk casually about our rhythmic values and tendencies. I say I value poetry as an oral/aural art. I say […]






Dmitry Samarov (photo by Paul Germanos)

I met up with Dmitry Samarov at Hopleaf Bar in Edgewater for their Tuesday Funk reading series. Dmitry, a former Boston and Chicago taxi driver, is the author and illustrator of the work memoirs Where To?: A Hack Memoir (Curbside Splendor, 2014) and Hack: Stories from a Chicago Cab (University of Chicago Press, 2011), and has also had essays and artwork […]






Fourteen New Poems, Four New Stories For Spring

by Contrary Magazine March 17, 2015
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Janet McNally’s poems captivated us—viscerally—from the first lines, not just the imagery, but the sounds: “kick past coral,” “conch shells,” “plate glass.” As we read on, we entered a web of thematic strings that tie the poems together: flower petals, pomegranates, rubies, shades of red, myth, and fairy tale. These poems are so beautifully interwoven, […]






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Review: The Cartographer’s Ink

by Lee Gulyas March 10, 2015
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The Cartographer’s Ink Okla Elliott NYQ Books 2014 Gilles Deleuze wrote: “Writing has nothing to do with meaning. It has to do with landsurveying and cartography, including the mapping of countries yet to come.” This is the quote that came to me as I read Okla Elliott’s “The Cartographer’s Ink.” We begin with an invitation […]






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From blindness to beauty, Layla Love’s photographic journey

by David Alm November 29, 2014
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In 2008, the photographer Layla Love was told she’d be blind within one year. The cause: pharmaceutical medications she’d been taking since she was a child to combat the deleterious effects of Dystonia, a rare neurological disease whose symptoms are nearly identical to Parkinson’s disease. Love was devastated. Since she first picked up a camera […]






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Marjane Satrapi Talks Writing & Freedom

by Amanda Leigh Lichtenstein November 2, 2014

“The world can go to hell if you have at least one person to lean on.”  — Marjane Satrapi This past Friday, writer and filmmaker Marjane Satrapi spoke about her life to a room full of high school students at the First Methodist Church in downtown Chicago. As part of the Chicago Humanities Festival, Marjane […]

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A simple proposal for making New York affordable again

by David Alm October 24, 2014
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Last spring, my girlfriend of six years and I split up. She moved out of our below-market two-bedroom apartment in Park Slope and I had to decide if I was going to keep it, which would require getting a roommate – not an appealing prospect at age 38 – or find my own place. So […]






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English majors fare just fine on the job market, but in what jobs?

by David Alm October 14, 2014
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A few days ago, a friend of mine with a tenure-track English professorship at a large southern university posted an article on Facebook that argued, basically, that humanities majors fare no worse in the job market than other majors. The data came from a study conducted by the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce, and covered […]






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How a new Autocorrect program could hijack your soul

by David Alm September 10, 2014
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Dennis Paoli, the coordinator of the Reading & Writing Center at Hunter College in New York City, has a short but very effective definition of writing: Writing is thinking and vice versa. In other words, to write clearly you also need to think clearly, and clear thinking is often achieved through writing. I’ve participated in numerous workshops over the […]






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Those pesky “whining adjuncts”

by David Alm August 27, 2014

Two days ago, the Chronicle of Higher Education published a letter to the editor by one Catherine Stukel, who teaches at a community college in Cicero, Illinois. The point of Stukel’s letter was simple: She thinks that adjuncts whine too much about low wages, insecure employment, and not being able to find full-time jobs. In her […]






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Is the university over?

by David Alm August 16, 2014
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Minerva — hardly a word you’d associate with higher education. It sounds more like a brand-name medication designed to treat anxiety — Minimize your nerves with Minerva! Or maybe a South American root that generations of indigenous populations have used to cure everything. But no. If a 39-year-old entrepreneur named Ben Nelson has his way, the word Minerva will not only […]






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Aerogram! The Summer Issue Is Out!

by Contrary Magazine August 5, 2014
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Please do yourself a favor and read “Aerograms” by Jim Krosschell:   I come into the teachers’ room from a class, and the sky-blue aerogram is peeking out of my letter box. I take it to my desk and sit down in my chair. We wait a moment, letter and I, objects of wonder and furtive curiosity […]






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Review: Curse of an Addict — Zanzibar

by Amanda Leigh Lichtenstein July 23, 2014
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Curse of An Addict—Zanzibar Director: Lovinsa Kavuma UK/Uganda, 2014 It’s been a month since I was first introduced to Seif and I can’t get him out of mind. Seif was a heroin addict who lived in Stone Town, Zanzibar, and I ‘met’ him through a harrowing short documentary about his life called Curse of an […]






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