Cultural Cross Sections

  • An aerial shot of Montpelier, Vermont at dusk
    December 19, 2019 | Thammika Songkaeo
    Photo courtesy of the author I didn’t arrive in Montpelier straight from the psychiatry ward in Singapore, but my stay in the ward was close enough to the beginning of the residency that I thought m...
  • A group of boys play stickball in an urban cul-de-sac filling up with piles of rubble
    December 18, 2019 | Alexis Romay
    Photo by Eric Parker / Flickr A Cuban writer living in the US writes a requiem for Havana, a city of contradictions, to mark its five hundredth year. Havana just turned five hundred. The be...
  • The Hong Kong city skyline at night
    December 17, 2019 | Will Hagle
    Photo courtesy of the author Following decades of British colonial rule to the rapidly tightening grip of mainland China and all the stories told about that chunk of land along the way, Hong Kong ha...
  • Snow-capped mountains frame a lake
    December 12, 2019 | Michaela Anchan
    I arrive at the Banff Centre on a Wednesday afternoon. It’s my first time in North America. There’s a warning in the hotel lobby about bears. Only walk in groups, it says. I am a New Zealande...
  • The city of Reykjavik framed in the foreground by a lake and in the background by cloud-capped mountains
    December 3, 2019 | Alizah Holstein
    I stepped out of Keflavík airport at 4:30 a.m. Far off in the dimly lit parking lot was the bus to Reykjavík—parked, empty, still off-duty. Winds buffeted me from above, the cold air curling its way u...
  • A photograph of the Tehran city skyline with the logo of Michelle Obama's book Becoming hovering just above the buildings
    November 26, 2019 | Shohreh Laici
    Photo of Tehran by Xiquinho Silva / Flickr A writer in Tehran incapable of entering the US under the Muslim travel ban encounters Michelle Obama’s Becoming in a beauty salon. Reading...
  • A prison sits atop an island. A boat rides in the waters at the island's feet
    November 18, 2019 | Nicole Peyrafitte & Pierre Joris
    Photo by Teemu008 / Flickr When Juan de Ayala passed through the Golden Gate on August 5, 1775, he didn’t see a Morus bassanus, un Fou de Bassan, or un Alcatrace from...
  • A color-altered photograph (emphasizing red tones) of a highway with a sign beside it in the foreground. The sign reads Route US 66. Another sign has been placed above it that read Miami Now, Native Oklahoma Weekend. Celebrating the past and future on Route 66.
    November 11, 2019 | Wesley Y. Leonard
    Photo by klaxtonphoto / Flickr aya, Wesley Leonard weenswiaani. niila myaamia. As a linguist, citizen of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma, and participant for many years in my community’s efforts to lear...
  • A painting of a landscape with a road in the center that disappears into the horizon line. Human and animal figures are in the sky along with the moon.
    November 11, 2019 | Alex Jacobs
    Alex Jacobs, Tribal Voice – John Trudell (11 x 14 fabric collage on board), courtesy of the artist The best description of America was made some five hundred years ago: “If it didn’t exist, we’d...
  • November 4, 2019 | Olga Zilberbourg
    Photo by CatDancer / Flickr A few years ago, on a brief visit to Seville, Spain, my husband, son, and I came across an unexpected sculpture. Having cruised by the monuments to monarchs, priests, exp...
  • Three people sitting in chairs in conversation with an audience (which is off panel)
    November 1, 2019 | Sesshu Foster
    Dorothy Wang of Williams College, Ammiel Alcalay of the Graduate Center City University of New York (CUNY), and Sesshu Foster at the CUNY Graduate Center, March 27, 2018 / Photo courtesy of the auth...
  • A time-elapsed black and white photograph of a dancer
    October 24, 2019 | Norge Espinosa Mendoza
    Multiple exposure of Alicia Alonso doing a pas de bourrée, 1944 / Photo by Kristine / Flickr The news of her death stung. After years of hearing her name, seeing her dance, knowing that she was less...
  • A color drawing of a stone building with a tree featured prominently in the foreground
    October 21, 2019 | Wallace Cleaves
    “Unmarked Grave of Toypurina: Mission San Juan Bautista,” from When Rivers Were Trails, Indian Land Tenure Foundation through MSU, 2018, by Weshoyot Alvitre / Courtesy of the artist If you didn’t gr...
  • A hazy photo of a snow covered landscape
    October 17, 2019 | Adnan Mahmutović
    Photo by Peter Tandlund / Flickr A Bosnian refugee of war now living, teaching, and writing in Stockholm considers the Swedish Academy’s selection for the 2019 Nobel Prize in Literature, Peter H...
  • Four photographs of the author's mother
    October 15, 2019 | Skuya Zephier
    Diane Zephier / Courtesy of the author There are maps of “Points of Interest” or landmarks tourists visit every summer dotted across the prairies of Sioux country. Landmarks on maps detail where Cus...
  • The legs of a dancer, clad in blue jeans and cowboy boots
    October 14, 2019 | James Patterson
    Photo: Johnny Silvercloud / Flickr Seeking to understand the fascination with America and cowboys that courses through a Scottish subculture, a Canadian writer joins a gun club for its weekly pr...
  • A pair of weathered hands cupping corn grains
    October 10, 2019 | Clint Carroll
    Elder Crosslin Smith holds heirloom Cherokee corn (selu) grown by tribal staff for a group activity on traditional cooking / Photo by Nancy Rackliff For Indigenous peoples, the political is environm...
  • A boy sits in a chair reading in front of a wall
    October 8, 2019 | Norge Espinosa Mendoza
    The film ends where it all begins: like a fable that devours its own tail in order to explain how we always return to our origins. Using this age-old though useful device, Pedro Almodóvar has achieve...
  • A neon sign glows in the shadows of night. The text reads 'Y A Este wién lo invito"
    October 3, 2019 | Joseph A. Cárdenas
    Photo by Mimi Di Cianni on Unsplash There is a Red Barn Ice Cream shop near Watertown in upstate New York. There, in the middle of nowhere, was ice cream with real fruit, whole strawberries in a sin...
  • A black and white photograph of a pair of hands grasping a plastic coffee cup
    September 19, 2019 | José Ángel Gutiérrez
    Photo by Diego Martin / Flickr The 2018 National Hispanic Hero Award winner reflects back on his education and his grandmother’s “Nunca me . . .” sayings, finding that, over the years,...
  • Dipika Mukherjee leans over a railing, smiling, as she looks at the camera
    July 23, 2019 | Dipika Mukherjee
    A writer travels from Chicago to a residency in rural Malaysia, where part of her novel-in-progress is set. While encountering the many living creatures who surround her and making progress on he...
  • A young girl holding a guitar and surrounded by other children with instruments looks behind her
    July 10, 2019 | Margaret Randall
    Children’s choir at the 2014 La Matanza Book Fair / Photo by Mauro Rico / Ministerio de Cultura de la Nación / Flickr When good engineers or scientists emigrate, they are able to continue their...
  • A boat floats in a desultory natural port as the sun begins to crest above the horizon
    June 11, 2019 | Zack Rogow
    Paulo Valdivieso, Porto das Hortas / Flickr Portugal was rocked earlier this year by the news that one of the most popular poems attributed to one of the nation’s greatest modern poets, Sophia de Me...
  • Three people sit around a table writing with a window illuminating the table
    May 23, 2019 | Cate Dicharry
    Mmakgosi Anita Tau (left) and Mandisa Mabuthoe (center) work with their mentor, TJ Dema (International Writing Program fall resident, 2012), all from Botswana, at their inaugural mentorship session...
  • A painting of a girl in black and white holding a red balloon on a drab gray wall
    May 8, 2019 | Ibtisam Barakat
    Photo by Eric Ward on Unsplash May 8, 2019 to Daniel Simon, Editor in Chief, World Literature Today Dear Daniel, It is with great pleasure that I write these words today to thank you and t...

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