Longform Archive

“Day to be recorded with sunbeams! Day of light and love!”: Longfellow and the Weather

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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s weather reports document a lifelong fascination, even partnership, with the weather acting as the writer’s trusted, often fickle, companion and muse. The ritual documentation of the daily weather reveals Longfellow’s creative process and his failed attempts at separating his private life from the published prose and

Literary Silence in the Time of Pandemic

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From the Black Death to the AIDS epidemic, the history of literature is suffused with gaps. Such a history is a record of mourning. It’s a record of all the things that cannot be spoken while living with upheaval and grief.

The Poetry of Wislawa Szymborska and Alejandro Zambra’s Book Reviews

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Wislawa Szymborska and Alejandro Zambra use the book review as a vehicle to convey something closer to poetry. They content themselves to leave each review with a feeling or mood, rather than an appraisal of a work.

The Terror of Racial Intimacies

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What does it mean to examine the possibilities of deep friendship—love, even—through the lens of a queer interracial reckoning with our silences? To opt for a kind of witness that exposes the violence of intimacies, a form of “domestic” violence that exists between black/brown and white people?

The Maternal Gothic and Maternal Ambition

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Now in my second pregnancy, I am turning to fiction, in particular a spate of recently published novels that portray the challenges of the postpartum period and early motherhood, to make sense of my attempts to hold together the identities of writer and mother.

The World Will Be Tlön

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"I recalled Jorge Luis Borges’s ‘Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius’ when trying to make sense of my daughter’s intellectual disability as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Like Orbis Tertius, the DSM seemed to me like a product of a secret society gradually working to shape

Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Grave Encounters

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On March 29, 1832, Ralph Waldo Emerson visited the tomb of his wife, Ellen, and opened her coffin. Twenty-five years later, Emerson once again opened the lid of a coffin—this time his son’s.

Language of Return

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I imagine there is something about my grandmother that would have resisted translation. The best way I know to understand her, the site where my retina and hers overlap, is in language.

The Haunted Tenants of Henry James

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Nearly half a century apart, Rumer Godden and E.F. Benson each moved into a house that could never seem to forget its first master, whose traces still filled its rooms. And so they made themselves at home as best they could—by writing ghost stories at Henry James’s desk.

On Silence

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When voicedness in art is tied to vulnerability in life, exposure—and not evasion, denial, and declarative muteness—ensures survival.