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Arts in Society

Boston Review’s Arts in Society section publishes poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and criticism. It focuses on how the arts loosen the hold of convention, bear witness to injustice, provoke new ways of seeing the world, and speak to the most pressing political and civic concerns of our time.

Browse Creative Writing by Genre


Browse Essays & Reviews by Topic

Images seized from enslaved people are not private property to be owned but ancestors to be cared for.

Ariella Aïsha Azoulay

As my relatives melted, I stood
on one leg, raised my arms, eyes shut, & thought:
tree tree tree as death passed me—untouched.

Ocean Vuong

A short story, winner of the Caine Prize.

NoViolet Bulawayo
Alfredo Véa Jr.

trudging back to Eden.

Paul Hockenos

Polish director Agnieszka Holland's new film exposes the violent contradictions at the heart of EU border policy.

Daniel A. Olivas

How can you have thoughts without words? The man turned back to his coffee and drank. It was cold. Breakfast was done. Time to move on.

Terry Nguyen

AI-generated novels are here, but they hardly spell the end of fiction.

Wesley Rothman

Your lone question —
What happens when you ignore a part of someone?
Would flood me, and in time, knock down
Every structure.

James Duesterberg

On art in the age of generative AI.

Mala Chatterjee

Generative AI has made it possible to create lifelike models of real people. Should we?

Matthew Lippman

most days, during some mid-day hour, / I close my eyes and say the Sh’ma. / But it’s always the wrong time of day, / and it’s the only prayer I know

Judith Levine

A long line of films tracks the solidarities that arise when prohibition makes friendship too perilous.

Doris W. Cheng

I resolved to stay close to my mother.

Joe Pitkin

She described their world at last in a language that they recognized as true.

Anna Krauthamer

Chantal Johnson’s debut novel, Post-Traumatic, makes the case that we can—by moving away from representations of individual suffering.

Jamel Brinkley

It’s a thing about being a man. To be so stingy, to deny even a sip of yourself. To deny and deny and deny until one day it all comes out as a violence, like water spewing forth from a hose. 

Peter Kazon

When you weren’t sure if a guy was gay, you asked if he was Canadian. The straight ones always look puzzled, and told you they were American.

Aaron Magloire

I’m not sure anymore / how far joy gets us

Noel Quiñones

We knew language better than anybody, how you could crack it out of fortune cookies or loop it into a rhythm or rip it to shreds and make money off the confetti. 

Abu Bakr Sadiq

a presenter / interrupts a program to break the news of migrants / found dead on the shores of river niger. i look down / the streets through my window.

Junot Díaz

The novel Kindred reminds us—emphatically, gruesomely—that white supremacy is us too.

Jeffery Renard Allen

What do the dead owe the living?

Tadeusz Dąbrowski

My life too has ended
many times over. Now I’m
doing all I can to return

Kristin Emanuel

even the long-gone
once knew tenderness.

Swati Prasad

“We were idyllic in our isolation.”

Parashar Kulkarni

“In the East, it is the cow that animalizes the man. Hence, the native occupies this intermediate space between man and beast, which we term ‘savage.’”

Ashley Warner

it’s happening / again. everything / outside me / get to switching  / channels. brown black / carbon black / black cat black

Meghana Mysore

shouting / the same words but in different languages

Ben Doller

there is nothing but performance; the language that stretches to capture us all

Evaristo Rivera

I begin to feel my body rise / and I can believe / in what freedom must feel like.

Sandra Simonds

To not have had the luxury to think “the world is over,” but to feel it instead.

Alexis V. Jackson

My grandmother tells me she loved you fiercely
in the way she reaches for me when your name
is spoken.

Robin D. G. Kelley

Thelonious Monk lost (and found) in Paris.

Njoku Nonso

The stones are endlessly weeping in the dark. Or is it
the bird-chatter of rain. O darling, are you writing
another poem about trees? No, not trees but ghosts
that live on trees and their legend of never-let-gos.

Sascha Stronach

The world never really ended. An apocalypse wasn’t an end so much as a change of state, ice into water.

Kenda Mutongi

What does it mean for those living in the diaspora to remain attached to the land they left behind?

Michael T. Powers

“I will be a tightrope walker,” she said, “and I will walk across the air to you.”

Nicholas Maistros

“Most were drills. Pilots weren’t to know which were the real deal. They were not to think of the lethal effects of their duty.” A pilot is pulled aside by a desperate woman seeking help.

Ian Maxton

This is my version of the story, but I will illuminate only a corner of it, one that ran parallel to and underneath it, revealing what was left in its wake.

Jane Kalu

“Abroadness became my obsession.” When a young Nigerian girl is invited to go live with her uncle in Canada, it sets in motion a peculiar friendship with someone she has long envied.

Jamie Figueroa

“You can’t go to Mass like that.” A woman’s mother wakes up dramatically transformed, leading to a reappraisal of their relationships.

Leah Claire Kaminski

When you were / in the Everglades we canoed from Flamingo and through the canals.

Monica Cure

My feet moved down another street / and I saw the shape they would draw / on the map in my mind.

Brandi Nicole Martin

Look at my heartbeat / and its consequence, / that cup warm on my palm

Robin D. G. Kelley

In her scholarship, mentoring, and activism, Farah Jasmine Griffin brings a praxis of radical love to an unequal academy.

Jeff William Acosta

How would I know / when I’m empty and quiet like breath?

Johanna Winant

Reflecting on three monumental works of modernism a hundred years on.

Hannah Craig

But I do miss the hymns, / the small, hard apples with their dimpled skin. I do miss / things.

Brian Clifton

As a student, I stitched / a cadaver together / while my professor / said you must / be a predator . . .

Olivia Cheng

“She stuffed spinach in her mouth until her teeth were a hayish green.” A woman’s extreme diet earns praise from church friends but concern from her family.

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