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Winter 2021

Ancestors

In this arts issue, some of today’s most imaginative writers consider what it means to be fashioned by others—and what it will mean to be ancestors ourselves.

Editors’ Note
Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Adam McGee, Ed Pavlić, & Ivelisse Rodriguez

 

ORIGINS

Celebrated writer Binyavanga Wainaina’s first piece of fiction was thought to be lost. Recently rediscovered, it appears here twenty-five years after it originally debuted.
Achal Prabhala, Binyavanga Wainaina
Home DNA ancestry kits include no ancestors, instead comparing customers to other present-day people based on assumptions about race and ethnicity. So what are they actually selling?
Duana Fullwiley
Kyoko Uchida

Three Poems

How is it that we’re still learning / to draw breath, a lungful of burning coal / to speak, to name ourselves, our daughters?

A trip to Machu Picchu ends up offering surprising insights into what it means to be a survivor of the genocide of Native Americans.

Deborah Taffa
Poetry
Our bodies, temples—shouldn’t that mean anyone can worship? Shouldn’t that mean it’s okay to dip my hips into a communion bowl?
Diamond Forde
Poetry

If I cross paths with myself on the sidewalk, I’m not sure I will recognize my own face.

Felicia Zamora
The Sacred Black Masculine in My Life
Tyehimba Jess
Fiction

“Every time she noticed he was dressed for sport, she’d head for the door.” In this short story, a young Jamaican man weighs his responsibility to his family against his love of biking.

Racquel Goodison
Poetry

Remembering poets Lynda Hull and Michael S. Harper, with original portraits

Terrance Hayes
Fiction
"The Earth’s skin had become a million toads." After a town undergoes a disturbing transformation, a boy finds a solitary companion.
Reginald McKnight

RUPTURES AND TRANSFORMATIONS

Metta Sáma

No More Sorrow Songs

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Fiction
“I could have been a clever girl. When the first of the Japanese bombs fell on Penang, my father stopped us from going to school. And when the war was over, there was no question of going back. So I married your father.” Three generations of a family struggle to maintain their way of life in a country changed irrevocably by war.
Yeoh Jo-Ann
Poetry

The sewing machines have been pushed aside to a far-off world, but I can still hear their thumping

José B. González
Poetry

Two white men carrying briefcases walk in on a congressional meeting held by African leaders dressed in Western attire. Clapping at the president who resembles Léopold Senghor. He uses words like “revolutionary” and “independence” and they garner an applause.

Cheswayo Mphanza
Poetry
Ocean Vuong
Vuyelwa Maluleke

[Evidence: Personal Effects] A Purse Full of Black

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Domenica Ruta

Companion Animals

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Poetry

We knew so little
about the plague
we underwent . . .

Bennet Bergman
Poetry
“Room, Room, Room, in the many Mansions of Eternal Glory for Thee and for Everyone” & “Publick Universal Friend Adopts a More Androgynous Appearance . . .”
Day Heisinger-Nixon

ONWARD

In this searching interview, legendary Black Arts poet Sonia Sanchez discusses the ancestral influences on her work and how art can give us strength.

Sonia Sanchez & Christina Knight
Poetry
Tyree Daye
A Sun Ra tribute concert by a member of the pathbreaking pop group Labelle leads to reflections on how Black women artists and scientists have often been at the vanguard of their disciplines—though most are still awaiting due recognition.
Emily Lordi
Fiction
The last humans on a planet attempt a nice family outing—except that they can’t remember how. A short story from Japanese counterculture icon Izumi Suzuki, available for the first time in English in a new translation by Sam Bett.
Sam Bett, Izumi Suzuki

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Can the nation-state serve social justice?

Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò leads a forum with Thea Riofrancos, Mariame Kaba & Andrea Ritchie, Ishac Diwan & Bright Simons, and others. Plus Leila Farsakh on Palestinian statehood, Astra Taylor and Leah Hunt-Hendrix on a “solidarity state,” Joshua Craze on rule by militia, and much more. 

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