I can’t believe the year’s almost over. I’m nowhere near almost over it. This year, especially, art seemed to rescue me. That’s in small part because the my days were messier and more uncertain than they’ve been in recent years, and in large part because (I’m convinced) we’re living in some kind of revolutionary era, with exciting and original voices emerging and cracking the canon, expanding the shape and size of space. Here’s to no one feeling small in the new year, finally, unless its via experiencing art, which makes you small in a good way—with an awe that makes you more a part of things than you were before.
- Ling Ma – Los Angeles, in Granta
“The house in which we live has three wings. The west wing is where the Husband and I live. The east wing is where the children and their attending au pairs live. And lastly, the largest but ugliest wing, extending behind the house like a gnarled, broken arm, is where my 100 ex-boyfriends live. We live in LA.”
- Sarah Smarsh – The First Person on Mars, in Vela magazine
“Somewhere in Kansas, the 1980s: At nighttime, surrounded by cows, a little girl lay on her back in a pasture. She had no telescope but sharp vision. She watched the sky and imagined being lifted from earth—flying out her farmhouse bedroom window, zooming in flight across sparkling nighttime cityscapes she’d only seen in movies. She knew reaching them would mean going where no one from her family had gone before.”
- Sasha Chapin – everything he’s written this year at Hazlitt!
“Increasingly I find myself turning to the past and saying, I love you, but I wish you would just shut up.”
- Phoebe Wang – You Aren’t the Only Winner
An important look at diversity and genuine representation in our literary scene.
- Karen Ho – Meritocracy is a Lie
Karen zeroes in on the fundamental problem of who defines what “merit” is.
- Oliver Sacks – My Own Life, in New York Times
The essay in which Dr. Sacks disclosed he had terminal cancer.
Fave Poetry Books
- Liz Howard – Infinite Citizen of the Shaking Tent
- Ben Ladouceur – Otter
- Bardia Sinaee – Blue Night Express (chapbook)
- Nick Flynn – My Feelings
- Carl Phillips – Reconnaissance
- Ocean Vuong – “Someday I’ll Love Ocean Vuong”
- Flying Lotus – You’re Dead!
- Sufjan Stevens – Carrie and Lowell
- Kamasi Washington – The Epic
- Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterly
- Christian Scott – Stretch Music
- Arthur Russell – Corn
- Chassol – Big Sun
- Thundercat – The Beyond/Where Giants Roam
- Golden Rules – “I think it’s over”
- Laurie Anderson – Heart of a Dog
A meditation on life and loss.
- Mdou Moctar – Akounak Teggdalit Taha Tazouhai
A retelling of Purple Rain by the Tuareg artist Mdou Moctar.
“That ‘You shall sorrow’ is both true and beautiful. I do not have the right to harden myself against the pains of life, for I ought to sorrow; but neither have I the right to dispair, for I ought to sorrow; furthermore, neither do I have the right to stop sorrowing, for I ought to sorrow. So it is also with love. You have no right to harden yourself against this emotion, for you ought to love; but neither do you have the right to love dispairingly, for you ought to love; just as little do you have the right to misuse this emotion in you, for you ought to love.”
—Kierkegaard, Works of Love
listen, please, close
your eyes—can you hear it? We think our souls live
in boxes, we think someone sits behind our eyes,
lording from his little throne, steering the fork to
the mouth, the mouth to the tit, we think hungry
children live in our bellies, clutching their empty
bowls as the food rains
down, we sometimes think we are those
hungry children, we think
we can think anything & it won’t
matter, we think we can think cut out her tongue,
then ask her to sing
– from “self-exam (my body is a cage),” by Nick Flynn
Agnes Martin, Untitled #1 (detail), 2003.