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World Cup 2015: What Women Want

Read this thoughtful short essay in The New Inquiry today. It celebrates the Women’s World Cup athletes and takes a closer look at wanting something so badly helps us (and women in particular) transcend self-consciousness. The author writes:

At least a few times a month, I find myself giving a silent, spontaneous thanks that something shifted enough within me to start treating my body as a physical tool instead of just an inconvenient container for my head. What that shift tells me, though, is that there might have been something that could have flipped on that switch earlier in my life.That something, I suspect, could have been the face of Abby Wambach, or Christine Sinclair, or Wendie Renard, or any of the women whose faces have moved me in the past few weeks

Watching the WWC finals, I was thankful my parents encouraged me to play soccer as a young girl. I started playing before I hit puberty, which turned out to be important. When I did grow breasts and hips and became totally self-conscious pretty much overnight I tried to drop out but was gently but firmly discouraged from doing this, in part because my dad was my assistant coach. My teams didn’t win, though I did get my one and only yellow card as a midfielder for the Funky Chickens, but as I stopped recognizing my body and tried to retreat into my head in every other part of my life I continued going to practice. I hated it. Driving to soccer games would make me physically sick with anxiety, not over whether we’d win (we wouldn’t), but the prospect of being seen trying too hard on the field. I kept showing up not because I didn’t want to disappoint dad, but because I didn’t want to disappoint my teammates. They expected me, they were happy to see me, and occasionally on the field or in a halftime huddle, orange slices stuck between our teeth, the painful I was replaced by a powerful “we.”

Watching Lloyd give the captain’s insignia to Wambach in the last minutes of the game, I was struck by the joy they took in playing together, the prospect of winning multiplied tenfold, the idea that they pushed beyond themselves–fear, anxiety, physical limits–as much for each other as for themselves.

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Essay on Jack Kerouac for The Rumpus


My essay The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at TheRumpus.net

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Paste Resurrection

On a recent visit to New York the ever-charming Charles McNair, Books Editor of Paste entertained guests at the sumptuous Jade Bar at the Gramercy Park Hotel where he let us know the good news that Paste Magazine will be continuing its excellent arts coverage online. The magazine made a name for itself by being a pioneer in the free music biz, offering free sampler cds of new music with every issue.  As the music has gone online so it seems natural that Paste as a music-focused magazine will too.

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Women Make a Rumpus

Lovely reading at Greenlight Books tonight by the Women of the Rumpus from Volume 1 (so called because they got so many submissions they plan to make a second volume) of their new book.

It’s a great compliation of new writing by women authors. Editors Julie Grecius and Elissa Bassist initially had to battle against the perception that literary writing by women wasn’t funny, but tonight’s reading showed clearly that even with material as dark as cancer, suicide and homelessness there are sparks of levity.  Indeed, as with an inverse proportion the darker the material the more lively the humor became.

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The Most Literary Rent Party Ever

For those of you in NY in February, consider attending this wonderful event in support of novelist Charles Bok and his family. A great idea and excellent example of why writers congregate in NYC despite the weather, the prices and the subway yelling.

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“Because I could not stop for community college, it kindly stopped for me.”

Following a trail of breadcrumbs from my friend Liza Monroy’s website, I found William Bowers’ really exceptional essay “All We Read is Freaks” at The Rumpus.  Bowers writes about his childhood love of Dickinson and the heartbreak of grasping for poetry and finding it insufficient to inspire his community college students in Gainesville, Florida.  At the same time, Emily Dickinson’s poetry gives the author a framework, more permeable and yet with the same tensile strength as the religious admonitions that surrounded him in childhood and as a teacher with his own sad Southern Gothic.*

Mural of Emily Dickinson on a wall at West Cemetery in Amherst, Massachusetts where the poet is buried

*Apologies to Bowers, who comments on his distaste for the overuse–and misuse–of that word

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Paste Feature: Carolina De Robertis’ Invisible Mountain

Just posted in it’s entirety at Paste Magazine:

Profile of debut novelist Carolina De Robertis’ stunning novel, set in Uruguay and beyond. Carolina was a wonderful interview, we discussed, among other things, the ghettoization of Latin American authors into the “magic realism” genre.

Invisible Mountain was named one of the best books of the year by the San Francisco Chronicle and one of the ten best books of 2009 by O Magazine.

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The Golden Age Review at BOMBlog

Film Comment Selects at Lincoln Center screened a great new film by Romanian director Cristian Mungiu.  I reviewed the film for my In Sight column at BOMBlog.

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Carolina De Robertis Profile

Invis.mountainI recently profiled emerging writer Carolina De Robertis for Paste Magazine’s new issue (October, ’09). Carolina was an amazing interview, talking about wide-ranging topics from the bastardization of the term “magic realism” to the intersections between life and storytelling.  I can’t recommend her debut novel Invisible Mountain highly enough. She recently graced NY with her presence, reading from the novel at the Brooklyn Book Festival.

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Prepare to Meet Thy Odd: Punk, Folk and Jem Cohen

jem-cohen_592x299New article about filmmaker Jem Cohen on my In Sight column at the BOMBlog.