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Old Ideas [private]


The first poem in Leonard Cohen’s posthumous book The Flame made me laugh. Not because the lyrics are especially funny (although there are touches of Cohen’s characteristic wry humor), and not because the poem is foolish (it’s quite good), but because it is practically a medley of every single theme and obsession Cohen took up over his sixty-year career. Holiness and pussies are just a start. One almost senses him (knowingly, always knowingly) ticking off boxes. Angels and devils: check. Art, sartorial elegance, and slaves: check, check, check. Messianism: check:


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Illustration by Lauren Simkin Berke

Civility vs. Decency [private]

A spokesperson for a divisive president is turned away from a restaurant. That president delights in dog-whistle insults that fall just short of outright ethnic slurs—usually. A white woman calls the police on a black child selling water on a city street on a beastly hot day. A patron who hasn’t been turned away from a restaurant leaves a note for the server, who bears an Arabic name, saying, “We don’t tip terrorist [sic].”


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Illustration by Lauren Simkin Berke

Quick Feet

A few weeks into the summer, one month before the start of eighth grade, two days after that psychologist’s directive to “count to ten in case of emergencies and limit your intake of simple carbohydrates,” you dropped me off with Grandmama in Forest, Mississippi. Before speeding off, you wiped away your tears. You said you were sorry. You kissed the roundest parts of my cheeks. You said you were sorry. You claimed Grandmama would make everything okay.

You said you were sorry. 

VQR Online

Posts from Meera Subramanian's Instagram series, "Elemental India."

#VQRTrueStory

December 7, 2015

#VQRtruestory is our new social-media experiment in nonfiction, bringing readers compelling stories and images from around the world, all through our Instagram feed.

The Death of Pablo Neruda

May 5, 2015

“Looking back now, I could have so easily walked to that cemetery and joined the men and women chanting next to his coffin,” Ariel Dorfman confesses. In addition to the documentary, "The Death of Pablo Neruda," this multimedia work includes an essay, “From Beyond the Grave,” by Dorfman, poetry by Martín Espada and Idra Novey, and a translation of Neruda’s poem “XII from The Heights of Macchu Picchu” by Mark Eisner.

VQR Nominated for Four National Magazine Awards

January 15, 2015

The American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME) today recognized the Virginia Quarterly Review with four nominations for its prestigious National Magazine Awards—the magazine world’s equivalent of the Pulitzer Prizes. VQR was named as a finalist [...]