Review: Curse of an Addict — Zanzibar

by Amanda Leigh Lichtenstein July 23, 2014

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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Writing and running hurt, and that’s good

by David Alm June 26, 2014

There are two things most people I know hate to do: Writing and running. While very different activities — one cerebral, the other physical — the primary reason people hate them is the same: They’re hard. And not just hard, but very hard. And they hurt. Also, they’re boring. Wait. What? I get that they’re hard, but how can something that […]

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Judy Blume helped me, too

by David Alm June 18, 2014

A confession: As a child, while all of my friends were obsessed with the fantasy novels of Piers Anthony and science fiction, I was devouring whatever I could find by Judy Blume. I was an otherwise boyish kid — I rode bikes, played in the dirt, collected comic books. But even then, I preferred realism over fantasy, and […]

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Brought to a Boil: An Essay on Experimental Poetry

by John Olson April 23, 2014
John Olson

“All poetry is experimental poetry.” ~ Wallace Stevens Turning words into art is unnatural. It begins with a contrary attitude. It says, I am unhappy with the way things are and desire to make things different. Rather than represent the world, I will make something wildly and savagely new. I will defy logic. I will […]

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What it Means to be Contrary

by Contrary Magazine April 22, 2014
Contrary N

“Turning words into art is unnatural. It begins with a contrary attitude. It says, I am unhappy with the way things are and desire to make things different. Rather than represent the world, I will make something wildly and savagely new. I will defy logic. I will invest in new perceptions. I will combine and […]

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Jesus for Jews — A Love Story

by Amanda Leigh Lichtenstein April 15, 2014

I got my first period when I was thirteen years old — on the morning of my Bat Mitzvah. I was feeling chosen.  There was no time to spare. My older sister Nina taught me how to insert a tampon, and off I went to get my hair braided at a salon located in a […]

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How Gary Coleman taught me to read

by David Alm April 11, 2014

There’s an episode in the final season of Diff’rent Strokes in which Arnold (Gary Coleman) acts up in class and is challenged by his teacher, played by Kareem Abdul Jabbar, to teach a lesson one day. His topic is to be A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, and he doesn’t want to do it. But he forces […]

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Changing Stories, Stories for Change

by Amanda Leigh Lichtenstein April 7, 2014

  We know a good story can change us. But can our stories really change society? Writers, poets, journalists, arts educators, and cultural activists based in and around Dar es Salaam, Tanzania convened on Saturday March 8 at Soma Book Cafe to explore the link between art and social change in a one-day workshop organized […]

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New Issue and Summer Call

by Contrary Magazine April 6, 2014
The Nervous Writer

In “The Nervous Writer,” MFA student S.W. Flores satirizes workshop culture at its less-than-optimum. In “The Church of Poetry,” poet Dane Cervine laments poetry’s doctrinal disputes. These works bookend the Winter and Spring 2014 issues of Contrary, awaiting your eyes at With new poems by Weston Cutter, Samuel Hovda, Okla Elliott, Hannah Dow, Jesse Mikhail Wesso, and Anne Whitehouse. Fresh fiction by Heather […]

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Confessions of a standardized test writer

by David Alm March 7, 2014

In the fall of 2011, I was invited to prepare an essay for the American College Testing exam, better known as the ACT. If you live on the East or West Coasts, you’ve probably never heard of it; if you live in the Midwest or the South, it hangs over your future like a guillotine […]

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Sports! Or, training in irrational jingoism?

by David Alm February 3, 2014

If you watched the Super Bowl last night, you no doubt watched the commercials too. So far, Bob Dylan’s endorsement of Chrysler has gotten the most attention for his weird, tautological question “Is there anything more American than America?” But that wasn’t the only ad with an overwhelmingly pro-America message during last night’s game. There […]

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The listicle as literature (?)

by David Alm January 21, 2014
Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 8.51.12 AM

I am to the listicle what my parents were to the Beastie Boys. When I was 11 years old, in 1986, I thought the Beasties were the greatest musicians of all time, and yes, I was including Beethoven, the Beatles, and Simon & Garfunkel in that valuation. My parents, meanwhile, laughed and rolled their eyes, […]

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A New Video from Nicelle Davis and Cheryl Gross

by Contrary Magazine January 13, 2014

Nicelle Davis is working on a new project, and fortunately for all of us, that means a new video collaboration with illustrator Cheryl Gross. You can watch the video on our little screen in the upper-right hand corner of Contrary Blog. Here’s more on the collaboration: Illustrator Cheryl Gross and poet Nicelle Davis create a grotesque peep-show […]

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Never sell your right to speak out

by David Alm January 6, 2014

Last week, the New York Times published an article on its website by Will Blythe, the former editor at large at Byliner, in which the author recounts how he was fired from that job and asked to sign a non-disparagement agreement in exchange for two weeks’ pay. He refused. I was once in the exact same position. Except […]

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Tough love: Johns Hopkins proposes a bold new plan

by David Alm December 20, 2013

Tom Waits once said, “It’s not that the world is over-populated; it’s just that everyone wants to live in the same places.” He wasn’t wrong, but his logic was specious. There’s a reason that millions of people crowd into Mumbai, New York, and Beijing: opportunity, or the lack of opportunity in the places they left. […]

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