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Reading Samantha Shannon’s The Priory of the Orange Tree

Midterms season is probably not the best time to read an 848-page novel pertaining in no way to your exams, but the mind has curious ways of reorienting your priorities at the exact moment you most need them to remain resolute. That is the briefest explanation of how I came to read The Priory of…

A Reflection on Cowboy Poetry

It was by pure coincidence that I encountered news of the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. A short blurb from a New York Times caught my attention and directed me to an article covering the event (linked below). It seemed like a niche celebration of a part of American life that dried up decades ago. I…

Endnotes on Pale Fire

  Azure adj.    blue, bright, cloudless; (of love) cloudless: The false azure of cloudless love. And when a noun – heaven, palate, the roof of one’s mouth. Azure as in: The bright, bottomless vowels that once echoed against the roof of your mouth. Or: Unstuck from your palate, here I am – trying to speak your…

Claiming Holiday Supremacy: A Halloween Blog

October is upon us, and we all know what that means; it’s finally time for Halloween. On the list of the top ten best holidays, Halloween easily fills ranks 1-9. It is truly a peerless event, but October 31 is not just an excuse to eat an entire bag of mini-snickers bars while dressed up…

Water Lilies after Monet

And light— my paint liquid light— the pale flush of rose lustrous daffodil yellow lilac blue and soft electric silver warm blaze colored oil glowing light— shimmering green    mesmerizing blurring    deep and nebulous sheer light   and all I feel is moment… here hazy and    bleary glinting of clouds limpid sapphire flashing sky whirling cloud-strokes…

Anatomy of Absence 

There was a hole at the table where her son used to be. Once he had sat across from her and made reluctant single-syllable conversation, his mouth full of food. When his father left, he stopped speaking. Then he stopped coming all together. After the divorce papers were finalized, she enrolled herself in a cooking…

We Sail These Seas

Long ago, they set fire to their homes. At the end of winter, when the snowdrifts began to deflate and the dead trees began to breathe in the changing air for the first time, they would all stand outside their homes and start a fire in the middle of the village. The homes were so close to one another; a family of homes that kept each other warm, that it never took long for the fire to spread. And while the homes fell into it shouting with glee at the spectacle, everyone stood outside and watched as breath floated into…

Zora Neale Hurston on Racial Identity, Ninety Years Later

Commencement season at Barnard College this year will mark the ninetieth anniversary of Zora Neale Hurston’s graduation with a BA in anthropology. As a graduate of Barnard’s sister institution, Columbia University, I feel the time is more than ripe to reflect on some of Hurston’s contributions. As it happens, I have a second—and third—connection to Hurston, apart from my status as a Columbia alumnus. Her hometown, Eatonville, Florida, lies not far from Gainesville, Florida, where I received my BA in anthropology. I first encountered Hurston, in the company of fellow anthropology undergrads, at Eatonville’s annual “ZORA!” festival. Hurton’s literary and…