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Joshua Cogan

Joshua Cogan is a documentary photographer and anthropologist based in Washington, DC. His work for, based on his photojournalism alongside writer Kwame Dawes for “Hope: Living and Loving with HIV in Jamaica” (VQR, Spring 2008) was the winner of a News and Documentary Emmy Award and the Webby People’s Voice award.



Fall 2009 | Criticism

He has the surname that suggests
a contested kinship: Jefferson—


Fall 2009 | Criticism

Somewhere in the post-Katrina wreckage and disarray of my grandmother’s house, there is a photograph of my brother Joe and me, our arms around each other’s shoulders. We are at a long-gone nightclub in Gulfport, the Terrace Lounge, standing before the photographer’s airbrushed scrim—a border of dice and playing cards around us. Just above our heads the words HIGH ROLLERS, in cursive, embellished—if I am remembering this right—with tiny starbursts. 


Fall 2009 | Criticism

Here is North Gulfport—
its liquor stores and car washes,


Fall 2009 | Criticism

This week they are painting
the North Gulfport water tower.


Fall 2009 | Criticism

At first, there was nothing to do but watch.
For days, before the trucks arrived, before the work
of clean-up, my brother sat on the stoop and watched.


Fall 2009 | Criticism

The house is in need of repair, but is—
for now, she says—still hers. After the storm,
she laid hands on what she could reclaim:


Fall 2009 | Criticism

On Saturday, when I come to see
my brother, they call him, over loudspeaker,
to the tower—a small guardroom

Prodigal I

Fall 2009 | Poetry

Once, I was a daughter of this place:
daughter of Gwen, granddaughter
of Leretta, great of Eugenia McGee.

Prodigal II

Fall 2009 | Criticism

I wanted to say I have come home
to bear witness, to read the sign
emblazoned on the church marquee—


Fall 2009 | Poetry

I thought that when I saw my brother
walking through the gates of the prison,
he would look like a man entering his life. 

Annesha Taylor’s daughter prays at an altar constructed in their backyard in Arnett Gardens in Kingston.

Learning to Speak: The New Age of HIV/AIDS in the Other Jamaica

Spring 2008 | Reporting

When I first see Sherene, I can’t help wondering why a teenaged girl is hanging around the clinic on a Saturday afternoon. She is slim, compact, and wears an extremely short denim skirt and a red wool halter-top but seems youthfully uncertain about her body. Her dark shoulders gleam with a hint of sweat from walking to the clinic, though her light makeup is still intact. When she speaks, she announces that she has been in the support group for five years and that she had been living with the virus for six. She tells the story of her three children—the eldest, now eleven, living with her father in Kingston—and the struggle to raise and feed the other two. I’ve misjudged her age completely.