Category Archives: Essays

Ishiguro Before and After: On Translating a Nobel Laureate into Ukrainian

By Tetiana Savchynska

On October 5 I awoke to the news that Kazuo Ishiguro had received this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature. I was overjoyed. Over the past few months I had been translating his latest novel, The Buried Giant, into Ukrainian, and therefore felt a particular kinship with both the author and his characters. As with all my previous translations, during the translation process I had been worried about the work’s reception in Ukraine. I had often asked myself, “Would the book receive enough publicity? Would The Buried Giant make a splash in Ukrainian or remain largely unnoticed?” Continue reading

The New Appeal of Blake Shelton

By Erin Coulehan

This week, Blake Shelton was named People’s “Sexiest Man Alive” for 2017. The annual honor reflects the cultural standards and general mood of the country. Past winners include stereotypical Hollywood heartthrobs like Brad Pitt and George Clooney (who’s received the honor not once, but twice) that showcase the values of virility at the particular moment. In light of Shelton’s newly acquired “sexiest man” status, well…welcome to Trump’s America. Continue reading

The Grotesque Aesthetic Morality of The Florida Project

By Geoff Nelson

Near the end of director Sean Baker’s recent critically-acclaimed film The Florida Project, the vulgar and precocious seven-year-old Moonee, played by Brooklynn Prince, and her mother Halley, played by Instagram star Bria Vinaite, attempt to clean the motel room they call home. Halley sprays the room’s window with glass cleaner, an allusion to the movie’s opening scene where Moonee and her feral friends spit on, and then are forced to clean, a car windshield. In the world of the film, it matters what’s dirty, what’s clean, who does the dirtying, and who cleans up. The circumstances of this instance of straightening up are bleak — a visit from Child Protective Services visit in which custody of Moonee will be decided looms — but the cleaning subplot reveals many of the embedded questions of Baker’s film. The aesthetic circumstances of child-rearing prove to be decisive in The Florida Project, in which Baker suggests that of all the terrible consequences of late-stage American capitalism, the worst may be how its aesthetic ugliness forces people into moral corruption. Continue reading

“The Joshua Tree” to the Grand Canyon: A Road Trip

By Channing Sargent

In August of 1987, my parents, my older sister and I drove from Riverton, Utah to the Grand Canyon. U2’s The Joshua Tree had come out in March. It was one of only two albums we had in the car with us. The other was Paul Simon’s Graceland, released exactly one year earlier. My sister, who, at 15, epitomized New Wave, with multi-hued, brow-high eyeshadow and sky-high winged bangs, insisted on U2 over Simon, always concerned with her cool-factor. In our white 1984 Toyota Tercel, we turned the cassette tape over and over again, listening to it repeatedly.

I have scaled these city walls / Only to be with you
But I still haven’t found / What I’m looking for Continue reading

Drinking with the Ghost: Rainer Maria Rilke at Café Sperl

By Katie Orphan

It is a rainy day in Vienna when I escape into the warmth and dryness of Café Sperl for my planned assignation with Rainer Maria Rilke. Making plans with dead authors is easy — I can meet with them at the time and place of my choosing, as long as I have my book in tow. For my meeting with Rilke, I resisted buying a book at the bookstore where I work, and instead sought one out in Vienna as a memento of my visit. Continue reading

Health’s Social Determinants: Nurses Are Key to Addressing Factors for Better Outcomes

By Susan Swider

Harry was 75-years-old, with heart disease, leg ulcers, and mental confusion. He lived with Violet; their relationship was never clear to me, but she cared for him, and received his Social Security check to help her do so. She lived in a drafty old house with three big dogs — and Harry.

As his visiting nurse, I often found Harry naked in a filthy bed, with dog feces on the floor, and his urinary catheter pulled out. Violet was belligerent and unwilling to talk with me about how to care for Harry. Continue reading

Leave Rupi Alone

By Zoë Hu

To talk about Rupi Kaur is to talk about numbers. Known for her unorthodox rise through social media, Kaur combines the intimacies of personal confession with the scrolling feeds of spectacle, yet her dominance on the literary scene is of the decidedly quantitative kind. There is the much-cited 1.7 million followers on Instagram. Add a million to that and you get, roughly, the total copies Kaur has sold of her debut, Milk and Honey. The collection has been translated into 25 languages, which is coincidentally Kaur’s age; whatever threat the “instapoet” poses to the literary establishment, it’s a threat with room to grow. Continue reading