Words for Thought

  • Photo by Nathalie Handal
    July 29, 2014 | Nathalie Handal
    Gaza Once in a tiny stripdark holes swallowed heartsand one child told anotherwithdraw your breathwhenever the night windis no longer a land of dreams   The Gazans I died before I livedI lived once in a gravenow I’m told it’s not big enoughto hold all of my deaths  ...
  • Red Sunset
    June 10, 2014 | Noah B. Salamon
    Photo by Giuliano Maiolini/Flickr Nobel laureate Tomas Tranströmer is a poet of great spirituality and depth, but his language is deceptively simple. The following essay examines Tranströmer’s painterly use of simple colors against a monochrome background to create and signal a shift to the extraordinary, and concludes that this aspect of Tranströmer’s work, on the analogy...
  • Envelopes made of poetry
    May 21, 2014 | Marilyse Figueroa
    Book transformation, letters, envelopes, and bookmarks by Marilyse Figueroa. Photos by Jen Rickard Blair. Drawn to a book by its cover, a reader decides to give it to a friend. But on her way to write an enclosure letter, she takes a detour and ends up interacting with the book in unexpected ways. I am a bibliophile. As a child my only complaint was that my eyesight was excellen...
  • Elena Poniatowska
    April 24, 2014 | Elena Poniatowska
    Photo: Spanish Ministry of Culture The 2013 recipient of the Miguel de Cervantes Prize, Elena Poniatowska Amor, delivered her acceptance speech yesterday (April 23, 2014) on the anniversary of Cervantes’s death, which is also World Book Day. The Cervantes Prize is “the highest recognition granted to the creative work of Spanish and Latin American writers whose work has cont...
  • Poem in Your Pocket Day. Photo by andifansnet/Flickr. Adaption by Jen Rickard Blair.
    April 23, 2014 | WLT
     Photo by andifansnet/Flickr. Adaption by Jen Rickard Blair. Poem in your Pocket Day is tomorrow (April 24th), and you can celebrate by carrying your favorite poem with you and sharing it with others. In celebration of this day, we’ve asked a few poets to share one of their favorite poems with us. Lauren Camp Lauren Camp is the author of The Dai...
  • September 30, 2013 | WLT
    Photo zeze57/Flickr To celebrate International Translation Day, we’ve invited translations of the following quote—about translation—by Andrés Neuman, the 2009 Alfaguara Prize-winning author and 2014 Puterbaugh Fellow. You can read the essay in which this line appears on WLT’s blog. Thanks to WLT friends, we begin this project with translations into Assamese, French, German, Hin...
  • April 2, 2013 | Leonidas Donskis
    An aphorism is a distilled, laconic reflection about the author’s intimate experiences of reality, expressed through paradox, provocation, or shocking self-disclosure. Aphorisms cannot be conceived theoretically, and one cannot learn how to write them from a manual. They rise up out of authentic experience—from silence and pauses, from stopping oneself so that a thought is not drowned by the floo...
  • February 21, 2013 | Andrew Lam
    Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. played himself in the movie Back to School, where he comically helps the wealthy Thornton Melon (played by Rodney Dangerfield) in a homework scheme that backfires. “Dear Mr. Lam. I loved your essay, ‘The Palmist,’ but I can’t figure out what the main theme is. Is it dying and being all alone? My teacher suggests I read more of your writing. . . . I’m glad I found you...
  • Bar
    January 14, 2013 | Tom Rains
    Photo Baijg/Flickr Leo Tolstoy, George Bernard Shaw, Isaac Bashevis Singer, and Franz Kafka walk into a bar (unlikely perhaps, but a good hypothetical start to any joke). The bartender offers them each a drink and a hamburger. Which one of them refuses? My apologies. I’ve already led you astray with a trick question. The answer is none of them accepts. And they won’t take it nicely, either. The...
  • January 7, 2013 | Lauren Camp
    The Tigris River in Baghdad. Photo NewsHour/Flickr For nearly two years, I worked on poems about my father’s early years in Baghdad. Every now and again, I slipped an occasional question to my dad, hoping that he would help me access the sphere of his life that came before I knew him. My questions were delivered mostly via email because my phone and in-person queries went unheard. ...
  • November 28, 2012 | Kevin Pickard
    Photo Flickr/CasualCapture It’s painful to hear people talk about my generation. The “millennials,” according to the critics, are a generation of addicts, our thumbs permanently scrolling through the flashes of text provided by Twitter, the ostentatiously antiquated photos of Instagram, and the pretend sociality of Facebook. I am twenty-one years old, and, apparently, I have no attention span. ...
  • November 21, 2012 | Andrew Lam
    Photo Flickr/NedraI “Thanks-giving,” said Mr. K., my seventh-grade English teacher. “Repeat after me: Thanksgiving.” “Ssshthanks give in,” I said, but the word tumbled and hissed, turning my mouth into a wind tunnel. A funny word, “Ssshthanks give in,” hard on my Vietnamese tongue, tough on my refugee’s ears. “That's good,” said Mr. K., full of encouragement. “Very good. Thanksgiving.” As I he...
  • September 6, 2012 | Kaitlin Hawkins
    Twitter is perhaps the most dynamic social media platform available on the web. The Twitterverse is daily flooded with estimates of over 340 million bite-sized messages from its users, which total to about 500 million. Most users send updates about their lives, their jobs, or the things that interest them—all within an allotted 140 characters. However, a recent trend shows that writers, translato...
  • July 25, 2012 | Yahia Lababidi
    Aphorisms were the form that gave me the most relief, that offered the deepest bloodletting. In the aphorism, I didn’t have to say “I,” I could just let the thing speak itself, so I didn’t feel compromised or vulnerable. A shy truth that could also be a general truth. They had enough of an air of mystery and ambiguity that I could bring them out and not feel exposed.  In the culture I come from,...