Starving and Sated

Editor (now alumna) Maddie Woda reviews Jihyun Yun’s first collection, Some Are Always Hungry. In 2016, I stumbled upon Jihyun Yun’s poem “Recipe: Dak-dori-tang” in BOAAT. A freshman in Columbia’s English program, I was beginning to develop my taste for poetry. I liked narration, freshness, unapologetic earnestness. I did not want too much room for interpretation, worried I’d fall through the cracks and say something ridiculous in class. I preferred James Wright to John Ashbery. I could not name any poets who were not deceased white men.  I read “Recipe: Dak-dori-tang” and immediately fell in love with Yun’s style. While…

Review: Afterlife by Julia Alvarez

Julia Alvarez’s new novel begins with verse, not prose, in a prologue titled “Broken English.” Her narrator Antonia Vega recalls the death of her husband in a car accident a year ago: “she keeps asking / Where are you? / as this is the only way she knows / Can you help me find him? / how to create an afterlife for him.” The prologue’s title points to the racism that Antonia, a Dominican-American literature professor in rural Vermont, faces as she “teach[es] Americans their own language.” But it also depicts poetry, with its line breaks and often unpredictable rhythms,…

Close Reading Series: Morgan Levine on “Sonnet”

The Close Reading Series invites our board editors to write about a favorite piece from our Spring 2020 issue. These readings are not intended to be definitive interpretations; when we read, we bring with us our own histories, experiences, and references, all of which guide our relationship to the work before us. It is possible,…

Everything is Personal, This is Personal Too

Editor Emmi Mack reviews Laurie Stone’s latest collection, Everything is Personal: Notes on Now. In her latest collection of hybrid nonfiction, Everything is Personal: Notes on Now, Laurie Stone presents her thoughtful brand of cultural criticism through deeply intimate snapshots of memoir. Her perceptions of art, both contemporary and what’s stuck with her for decades,…

Close Reading Series: Sofia Montrone on “(46)” and “(47)”

The Close Reading Series invites our board editors to write about a favorite piece from our Spring 2020 issue. These readings are not intended to be definitive interpretations; when we read, we bring with us our own histories, experiences, and references, all of which guide our relationship to the work before us. It is possible,…

Close Reading Series: Spencer Grayson on “Newly, rendered, truly”

The Close Reading Series invites our board editors to write about a favorite piece from our Spring 2020 issue. These readings are not intended to be definitive interpretations; when we read, we bring with us our own histories, experiences, and references, all of which guide our relationship to the work before us. It is possible,…

“My fantasy of a memoir about nothing”: Kate Zambreno’s Drifts

Kate Zambreno’s latest work of autofiction, Drifts, is a novel about the process of writing a novel, or, at least, the process of thinking about one. The narrator, a lightly-fictionalized version of Zambreno, ekes out a living as an adjunct professor as she attempts to write a novel, Drifts, “that contains the energy of thought.”…

Bryn Evans: Weight, Time, & the Afrofuture

AN INTERVIEW CONDUCTED BY MORGAN LEVINE Bryn Evans received our Spring 2020 Poetry Prize for her poem “Thotiana’s interlude, or Barbara Mason reconsiders settling down.” Bryn and I called each other from our respective hometowns of Decatur, Georgia and Houston, Texas for this interview, which has been lightly edited for clarity. I’ve been a fan…

Sara Kachelman: On Friendship and the “Old-World Horror” of Climate Change

An interview conducted by Sofia Montrone Sara Kachelman received The Columbia Review’s Spring 2020 Prose Prize for her short story “Friends of the Gyre.” Her story, about a group of people who befriend an enigmatic and terrible storm, first crossed our desk in January, but recent events have imbued the narrative about unlikely social relationships and unbalanced power dynamics with new salience. We were impressed by Sara’s humor, her attention to nature, and her sense of the eerie, and our contest judge, Jordan Kisner, was as well. I caught up with Sara over email last week to discuss her short…