During a slow-warming spring in Minneapolis, my application to a creative writing program was declined. When I read the form letter, sent via a website, and addressed to me by my first name, Iyabo, I experienced a kind of dissociative moment. My mind, befuddled by the disappointing news, rejected the name, deeming it not mine.
What need is there/
to make art of these elements/
Now that the stone footpaths/
the child in the photo has gone
The first time I told my story to a group in the U.S., I had to cover my face with a bandana. I was afraid for my life, since I had been labeled as an illegal alien. I imagined myself being arrested by immigration agents, being deported and-- once back in my homeland-- being taken by soldiers, thrown into a secret prison and tortured to death without anybody ever knowing.
On the afternoon of our interview he suggested we meet on a street corner. I arrived early and waited until I saw a man walk past wearing a blue trench coat with a blue rain hat pulled over his head. Shoulders hunched, he seemed to hesitate, and then I called his name.
"You found me," the man says, again, and I wonder what he's trying to tell me. There is a wine glass on the table with a hint of red dried on the bottom. Next to it a container filled with yellow cupcakes. His sweater is pilled, his hair like silk thread.
The old woman sips her coffee and complains that it is tasteless. Then she lifts her eyes from her coffee cup and stares at me and says nothing. I look at her with surprise, waiting for to say something. Finally, she says in a hurt voice: "Its so sad! What on earth is happening to our beloved city?"
It was my grandfather who named me. In Korean, you traditionally have two ways of writing your name: one in hangul, one in hanja. Hangul is Korean, and tells you how to pronounce your name.
One of the rarest and environmentally sensitive land and sea eco-systems in the western Pacific is again under threat of mega-development.Punta Arena (Sand Point) on the edge of Cabo Pulmo Marine Park–a UNESCO World Heritage site protecting the only hard finger coral reef on the North American Continent and just 60 miles north of the resort corridor of Cabo San Lucas on the East Cape of Baja Sur, Mexico–has successfully fought two previous mega-resorts. It now faces a third, this time called Cabo Dorado.
In mid-March, a Chinese consortium submitted an environmental impact statement to Mexican authorities, seeking to construct an “integrally planned development….of 9 hotels totaling 4,080 rooms and 6,141 residences” over a ten-year period. Not to mention 4,380 commercial spaces, restaurants and condos; an improved airfield, a shopping center, several beach clubs, two golf courses, a shooting range and a wellness center.
We’ve addressed Muna’s fear of bombs falling on her street or near her children’s schools, the sound of war planes overhead, of abandoned apartments in neighborhoods deemed unsafe, of the surreal quality of a city where on the surface the old way of life continues apace, but we have never spoken directly about the Assad regime or the insurgency.
A decade later, in May of 2012, I sat with an American friend who lives in Istanbul, at the rooftop bar of the Anemon Galata Hotel overlooking the pedestrian area in the trendy neighborhood of Beyoglu. A new city ordinance had banned restaurant tables on the sidewalks. “It is because this is where people socialize. Here, they can smoke while having drinks and dinner,” my friend explained. “And this law caused many restaurants to go out of business.”
I can still close my eyes and see Tete sitting on her bed in her white nightgown which matched her white wavy hair, telling the story in her soft, but animated, voice. Perhaps it was the way Tete told the story that made it so special for me. Perhaps it was the catchy tune in the story, so typical of many Syrian folktales, that mesmerized me as it was repeated over and over.
A tad lightheaded from pork bun nitrites, I dared to venture out from the friendly confines of TST-East and crossed Chatham Road, pinning my fading hopes on a rabbit-warren of streets off Knutsford Terrace with an improbable cluster of bridal shops (don’t ask) that I had stumbled upon a few trips ago. And there, amid clutches of brides-to-be with their entourages, was a string of salons.
The real issue behind the disconnect in understanding is the West’s freedom of expression versus the East’s sanctity of belief. Living here, I’ve had to temper my American individualist self against the collective will of the group. Marrying into a large Kurdish tribe has taught me that in such cultural collisions, the Western idea of being responsible for one’s own actions does not always fly in a culture in which the actions of one reflect on the honor of all.
"I’m someone who thinks with images, image is part of my narration as it is in graphic novels. In graphic novels, before you write, you draw,” Marjane Satrapi, the eminent cartoonist reflected before the screening of her latest film "Chicken with Plums."
What veteran traveler hasn’t felt a tingle – whether of elation, anxiety, or expectancy – from strolling down a crowded street with the knowledge that, at that moment, there was not another soul on earth who knew one’s exact whereabouts?
The Ottomans were powerful and they had money to sponsor artists so people came from China, Persia, Iraq, and many different cultural centers. Istanbul was the new cultural center where patrons really took care of everything for their artists. If you were a scholar writing a book, or an artist, you had a free life as long as you did what you were doing.
The skies were without a cloud, as they often are in Israel in the summer. The ride was smooth and pleasant as the breeze came through the windows. Apartment houses and private homes and later open fields passed us by. Then the landscape changed to hills, the hills of Judea.
“I grew up seeing two different types of womanhood. On the one hand was my mother—a well-educated, modern, Westernized, secular Turkish woman. Always rational. Always to the point. On the other hand was my maternal grandmother, who also took care of me and was less educated, more spiritual and definitely less rational. This was a woman who read coffee grounds to see the future and melted lead into mysterious shapes to fend off the evil eye.”
Let's face it: Global profiteering ain't what it used to be, what with currency wars, increased labor regulations, galloping commodities prices and natural disasters including drought. Oh, and that darned internet thingy keeps bringing the global marketplace closer to buyers of even the smallest scale, rendering the veteran profiteer's all-seeing-eye redundant. Redundant, I say.
It was winter in Cape Town. During the global conference on developing countries, skies were bright, afternoons unusually hospitable. Clouds parted as if on cue from the stage of Table Mountain. Inside the air-conditioned conference center, soft leather shoes skimmed over carpets and business cards slipped from wallet to wallet. At the waterfront below people loitered at Seattle Coffee and Haagen Daz or bunched onto ferries for a ride to Robben Island, a visit to prison cells, and a gusty return through shifting tides.
When I was a child growing up in the Bahamas, my grandmother came to visit from Germany. One day, while we were building sandcastles on the beach, she paused to tell me about East Prussia – a place of great beauty where Trakehner horses pranced across dandelion meadows and elk herds swam in green rivers.
“Ost Preussen,” she said, with a soulful sigh.
Hearing the sadness in her voice, I glanced up sharply.
What is the relevance of Schimmel's work in the post-9/11 era? Her writings do not address terrorism or the conflicts that followed the end of the Cold War. Instead, she focused on the mystical interpretation of prophecy, the aesthetics of calligraphy, and the expression of spirituality in both the classical tongues of Arabic and Persian and the local languages of the Near East and South Asia.
“I remember in prison,” she said. “The jailers came every day to inspect my cell looking for a piece of paper. They said it was more dangerous than a gun. But I was happy in prison because really we are all prisoners of the system.”
In the space of one very long day, I had traveled from a current global nexus (Hong Kong) to a faded former version of itself, in all possible manner of conveyance (save rickshaw) including a bullet train that seemed to take me back in time at 250 kilometers per hour...
Love is not a word usually associated with stock markets but the conception, birth and growth of the Damascus Securities Exchange (DSE) has been nothing short of a labor of love for Dr. Mohammed Imady, former Minister of the Economy and now Chairman of the Syrian Commission on Financial Markets and Securities.
Wild River Review reprises, “The Power of Conversation,” covering David Grossman’s PEN World Voices Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture in April of 2007, during which he spoke about the importance of writing in the face of fear, "rapid and repeated media flashes," heartbreaking violence, and “the suffocation of the cliché.”
An invitation for a private tour of the new Damascus Securities Exchange (DSE) is heady, exhilarating and a bit surreal. How people outside Syria even know about the audacious start-up?
And the water–/Oh how we wish to live near/the blue blue–
Off by the main ECP (entry control point) a patrol is forming up to leave the wire. This is a patrol party that virtually no Hollywood film has yet to capture. This is a FET (female engagement team) mission. Four of the Marines adjusting their gear and weapons are female.
Before the Hollywood centrifuge of Facebook philanthropy stopped spinning and Sean Penn took the microphone from Anderson Cooper, I too gathered my lance and shield. Like a plate tectonic Don Quixote, I headed for Haiti.
On May 14, 1948, David Ben Gurion, soon to become prime minister, and other leaders of the Yishuv, the Jewish community in Palestine, gathered in the city of Tel Aviv and declared the establishment of the state of Israel. It was the fulfillment of the hope of a people exiled 2000 earlier by the Romans and scattered throughout the Roman Empire.
And you sit back/
in your deep sofas/
and turn us out/
after all is done/
cracking up in laughter/
at our helplessness/
but we go straight/
to the mandir/
behind the blue-dome...
Kabir wove a web of words encompassing all of life, love, God, and man’s eternal quest for meaning, for peace and happiness. He used the medium of ‘dohas’ and poems to put forth his experiences and thoughts on this quest.
What made this visit to Stutthof even more profound and painful is the fact that I am a German and my husband Jamie is a Jew.
Named one of a hundred visionaries who could change your life by Utne Reader, Iyer offers us the opportunity to live by his own axiom: To write well, one must read well. With this, his own words tell his story best.
Pues, si la persona viene con ganas, con interés, y sabe por qué viene y a lo que viene, y qué es lo que va a realizar acá, pues sí--vale la pena.
If a person comes with desire, with interest, and if he knows why he’s coming, what he’s coming to and what he intends to accomplish here, then, yes—it’s worth it.
The road to Damascus, or to Palisades, is lit by the same eastern sun at dawn. It matters little if it is paved or dirt, smooth or rutted. The road may be less travelled, but all upon it are heading in the same direction.
Vanessa records the story of the most important day of her life—the day she went to a baseball game with her traditional Mexican father. Miracle of miracles--the game was rained out, and they had The Talk- about her wanting more freedom, needing him to trust her, how she was Mexican but American, too, how it was hard for him to let go, and how they loved each other. In some ways, it was a perfect story, told in less than two minutes: a powerful theme expressed in an arc of expectation, tension, resolution, a scene filled with vivid descriptions and dialogue.
"I’ll never regret being homeless. It makes me appreciate everything I have. Ever since I could remember I was taught to earn my own things. Today I’m doing just that and I’m proud." [Transcripts of the audio stories discussed in "My Power Ranger Had One Leg."]
Keeping a discreet distance, he follows us up a final flight of stairs to the third floor where we come face to face with a large yellow sign in heavy black letters which says: GENOCIDE EXHIBIT.
“This is a crazy place in so many ways,” says the Eagle. “A few years ago, a local official planned to destroy the church and say that no Armenians lived here. But, the church has been photographed so often and travelers have written about it. Even he had to agree the idea was stupid. Although no one will say it out loud, everybody knows the Armenians have been here as long as anyone can remember.”
But what the new sciences of complexity teach us is that when a system is shifting from one basin of attraction to another, there is an accumulation of noise in the old system and the unbounded and free agents are drawn to a new basin of attraction. If the system is a culture, then the transition of state can be what is called "a dark age."
de escorpiones de vasijas de barro y tierra
de tostado de habas de pailas de bronce calientes
"Faces of Ecuador" photographs by Gabriel Amadeus Cooney, part one of three.
When she was a teenager, her family moved back to Calcutta, where her father worked as a professor of history. Partly through her father’s influence, Gupta developed a deep appreciation for literature and poetry, particularly the Bengali poet Tagore. But mathematics and science struck her just as forcefully.
Beata Palya’s voice hits you beneath the skin, seeps inside your stomach the way that a good wine might spread slowly, warmly, from your throat to your ribs.
All my life I have longed to be alone in a place like this. Even when everything was going well, as it often did. I can say that much. That it often did. I have been lucky. But even then, for instance in the middle of an embrace and someone whispering words in my ear I wanted to hear, I could suddenly get a longing to be in a place where there was only silence.
— Per Petterson, Out Stealing Horses
You’re quiet and peaceful, summering safe at home
You’d never think there was a bloody war on!...
yes, you would…why, you can hear the guns.
Hark! Thud, thud, thud,—quite soft…they never cease—
Those whispering guns—O Christ, I want to go out
And screech at them to stop—I’m going crazy;
I’m going stark, staring mad because of the guns...
Yuko sat on the floor, cross-legged. She was text-messaging her beau, Ton'. In the kitchen 12 feet away, her mom, dad, and twin sister, Nuriko, were preparing the noodles.