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Essays

Recent Issue

Illustration by Lauren Simkin Berke

Of Locusts and Grasshoppers

They were the eighth plague visited upon Egypt: When Pharaoh refused to free the people of Israel, Exodus tells us, Moses stretched out his staff and a wind rose from the east, blowing hard for one day until a vast swarm of locusts arrived. So great was the size of the swarm that the land appeared black, and so voracious that in a matter of moments every tree and stalk was stripped bare of fruit and grain.

Photograph by David Ulin

Dancing Days

It’s Sunday morning in September and I’m walking Eighth Street when I see it: spray of words in green and pink, framed in the middle of the pavement as if an illustration of some kind. In the middle of the pavement?

This Land Is Our Land


This time, it begins after dark. There’s a solemnity that was absent from the previous day’s rituals, which I had witnessed when the sky was still light. “This time, we have to be serious. We can’t be jokey-jokey,” says Syafiq Dendi Abdullah, a twenty-six-year-old shaman and an activist- leader of Malaysia’s indigenous Temiar community.

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Photo by Gary Honis

Night Moves

July 5, 2016

In "Night Moves," Amanda Petrusich visits Cherry Springs State Park, a Pennsylvania swath of night sky, where light pollution and fracking threaten the existence of one of the darkest places in America.

If Everything Is So Amazing, Why’s Nobody Happy?

October 5, 2015

When I talk to my students about living for compassion, they tend to be quite interested. But few of them have ever contemplated this sort of life before. Like the life of courage and the life of thought, the life of compassion seems to be receding in our culture. People don’t talk much about ideals any more. We don’t usually offer them as viable options to the young.

The Southwesternization of the American Palate

June 17, 2015

Barrow, Alaska, is about as far from anywhere in North America as it’s possible to get: hard by the Beaufort Sea, 720 miles from Anchorage, 3,500 miles from Washington, DC, 1,100 miles from the North Pole. Yet, until very recently, it was possible to stumble across taiga and tundra and find, there in the heart of the town, a Mexican restaurant.