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Photography by Benita Mayo

Bearing Witness

In 2018, after learning about the dangers that Serena Williams and Beyoncé Knowles faced during childbirth because of improper care, I became curious about pregnancy risks that Black women face in the US. Their stories might be well-known, but those of women who lack access, agency, or resources too often go untold.

The Malaya Lolas

In the wake of postwar trauma, and absent any formal restitution, a group of Filipina women have forged their own path toward healing.

Attending

December 3, 2020

I can’t tell you why I rented the theater downtown, other than that it was inevitable, like the notes of a song. Facing the rows of empty velvet seats, I felt the thrust of potential. At night, doctors stood on stage telling stories—not of helicopter rides and loss of blood, but of waffling, of wanting, of grappling with themselves. The audience arrived like spirits, craving not entertainment but something more fundamental and urgent. I sat backstage, eyes closed, living and dying in every pause, every ripple of laughter. This—a live storytelling event by those in health care, for those in health care—was the first thing I had ever originated, one that came from the roiling place inside of me and not a script.

 

<p><i>If All the World and Love Were Young</i>. By Stephen Sexton. Penguin Books UK, 2019. 125pp. PB, £9.99.

Lived Experience

September 8, 2020

Walt Whitman read of his brother George’s injury at the Battle of Fredericksburg in the New York Herald on December 16, 1862. Fredericksburg was but one battle among many, though it lasted five days, and nearly ten thousand Union army soldiers were injured there. Each day, another long list. Whitman left New York hurriedly to find his brother, knowing that many of his readers scanned the same paper each day for the same worrisome reason. Many scanned every paper, everywhere in the country. To be alive in that moment—not just to be a person named Walt Whitman, but to be a person at all—was to know the public, social, and emotional burden of war.

Who Is This Guy?

Now that I’m dead too, just like the living dead on TV, 
fat chance that the merely living will be saved 
by doing what they did when I was merely living— 
nailing their doors shut against me, 
hurricane-proofing the windows, 
positioning snipers at the embrasures.

Fort Reno Park, Chesapeake St. NW. Photo by María Luz Bravo.

Literary Life in a Plague Year

It is rare to walk through empty streets in downtown Washington, DC, in broad daylight. Yet this past spring, when it seemed as if every living thing had leapt into a void, I learned that what you see and how you see it changes in a relatively unpeop [...]

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