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Guest Columns


Lundgren’s Lounge: Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates

categories: Cocktail Hour / Guest Columns / Reading Under the Influence

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Ta-Nehisi Coates

Ta-Nehisi Coates

Many years ago, as I was dipping my toes into the teaching profession, I wrote the following: “Between the campus where I attended graduate school classes and the school where I was student teaching was a large city park. I would sometimes mention my walks through the park to my students (who were all brown or black), describing the welcome sight of the spring’s first crocuses or the sense of wonder that came while watching birds gather material for their nests. One day James, one of my students, interrupted me: ‘Why do you keep talking about that park? Don’t you know that park’s not for us? We’re not welcome there. That’s a park for white people.‘ “ Excerpted from Becoming (Other)Wise, “Notes From a New Teacher.” Continue reading →

Table for Two: An Interview with Julianna Baggott

categories: Cocktail Hour / Guest Columns / Table For Two: Interviews

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Julianna Baggott

You’ve never heard of Harriet Wolf, one of the 20th Century’s great American writers. But don’t feel too bad — neither had an unnamed faculty member in the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA program.

“I gave a reading at VCFA to a bunch of writers,” says Julianna Baggott, whose novel, Harriet Wolf’s Seventh Book of Wonders, imagines the existence of a seventh book in the Wolf oeuvre, a memoir that exposes the “true stories” behind Wolf’s six other classics. “And a couple of writers, well-known writers, came up to me afterwards, and said, ‘you know, I’m really not familiar with Harriet Wolf’s work.’

“And I was like, ‘Oh, I don’t think I made that clear — she doesn’t exist.’ So, then I thought, well, let’s not make that clear, let’s build a little bit of her lore…” Continue reading →

Table for Two–An Interview with Philip Lopate

categories: Cocktail Hour / Guest Columns / Table For Two: Interviews

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lopate

 

GLANCING BACK

 Your essay, The Poetry Years (from Portrait Inside My Head) looks back at where and how you started writing professionally.  You say you had no ambitions toward writing poetry until you were a student at Columbia and suddenly doing it, kind of by accident. What experiences drew you in?

PHILLIP: When I was an undergraduate at Columbia, my writer-friends were mostly poets.  A few fiction writers, not a single nonfiction writer in the batch.  Monkey see, monkey do: I started reading and writing poetry. Continue reading →

Bad Advice Wednesday: Fifteen Things for When the World is Shitty and Terrifying

categories: Bad Advice / Cocktail Hour / Guest Columns

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Fritz

Laquan MacDonald was seventeen and murdered by a Chicago police officer in cold blood. I watched a video of his murder, along with most of America, right in between reading about how Americans are terrified of letting refugees from war-torn Syria into the country, and reading about how a man with a rifle opened fire at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado, and now hearing about San Bernadino.

I can’t think of anything else to say that hasn’t already been said about how horrible and sad and awful and bleak and shitty and unfathomable all of those things are. I can’t. I don’t have the words for that today. So instead, here are fifteen things that you can do to make your world just the tiniest bit less shitty and terrible.

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“At Sea,” an excerpt from SUPERSTORM, by Kathryn Miles

categories: Cocktail Hour / Guest Columns / Reading Under the Influence

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Superstorm: Nine Days Inside Hurricane Sandy, by Kathryn Miles

Superstorm Sandy began its genesis as a typical late season tropical storm. However, as the hurricane marched up the east coast of the United States, it collided with a powerful nor’easter and morphed into a monstrous hybrid. The storm charged across open ocean, picking up strength with every step, baffling meteorologists and scientists, officials and emergency managers, even the traditional maritime wisdom of sailors and seamen: What exactly was this thing? Continue reading →

Lundgren’s Lounge: This is Your Life, Harriet Chance, by Jonathan Evison

categories: Cocktail Hour / Guest Columns / Reading Under the Influence

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Evison

Harriet Chance is a true mensch. Mensch as in, “someone to admire and emulate, someone of noble character.” And though some might question the characterization of Harriet as being worthy of emulation, there can be no dispute that she is of noble character. Continue reading →

The Meal of a Lifetime

categories: Cocktail Hour / Guest Columns / Our Best American Essays

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55354d4ddc7f3a857c50fa95_oysters-best-meal-france

In August of 2010, Brendan and I lived at a three-week artists’ residency in southern Germany. “You’ll live in a castle,” the organizer who’d invited us had promised. So we arrived at the Schloss School, a former monastery turned castle turned boarding school, with visions of candlelit dinners in a grand medieval hall (at least I did) to find that we were to eat three meals a day in a side room of the school cafeteria, with no wine served, with thirty other artists from various countries. (We also slept in dorm rooms, in kiddie beds.) Continue reading →

Lundgren’s Lounge: “The Narrow Road,” by Richard Flanagan

categories: Cocktail Hour / Guest Columns / Reading Under the Influence

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Richard-Flanagan

I have been a fan of Tasmanian writer Richard Flanagan ever since reading Gould’s Book of Fish (Stuart Gersen’s all-time favorite novel). Flanagan’s work might at first seem preoccupied with man’s abject cruelty to his fellows, as many of the stories take place in wretched prison settings. But if one looks more closely, there is a discernible thread weaving itself through through each narrative, examining the nature and limitations of human love and man’s capacity to endure the most dire circumstances.

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Anxious Bode Tries Out at the Comedy Cellar

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Thierry Kauffmann, aka Anxious Bode

Thierry Kauffmann, aka Anxious Bode

Hi, I’m Anxious. I want to thank Bill and Dave’s Comedy Grotto for inviting me to try out for the Comedy hour. But let’s get right to it!  I love flying. I do. Getting on the plane can be tricky with Parkinson’s, but once I’m seated, I’m good. Now I’m supposed to make jokes about airplanes and flying and how horrible the food is. Actually the food is pretty good, especially the stuff that doesn’t land on the floor. Have you ever seen the floor of an airplane? Amazing what you find. I was looking for my dessert. Still wrapped in its aluminum foil. I started leaning back at around 4:45pm. At 5pm I was so low I could actually reach the dessert. My neighbor was down too. He had lost his smartphone. So we were both down. He looked panicked. In a cheerful way. He was an actor. Expecting calls. I thought I would help him. Continue reading →

Lundgren’s Lounge: “How to Cook a Moose,” by Kate Christensen

categories: Cocktail Hour / Guest Columns / Reading Under the Influence

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Kate-Christensen_curtrichter

Early in her career author Kate Christensen consistently published some of the smartest, cleverest and most entertaining works in contemporary fiction (The Astral, The Epicure’s Lament and The Great Man. among others). Then she turned her extraordinary talents to memoir with Blue Plate Special; An Autobiography of My Appetites. Now she offers a love affair to her newly adopted home of Maine and the unique culinary culture flourishing there, in How to Cook a Moose: A Culinary Memoir (Islandport Press). Continue reading →