We began our week with this must-read by Arianne Zwartjes, on her time working as a medical volunteer at a refugee camp in Greece:
Spending time in a place like Malakasa raises so many questions, a pile of questions, one laid atop the other. How can I help with the immediate needs of the people here? becomes, Why are so many people stuck here in this camp? becomes, Who do we offer asylum to, and who do we turn away? becomes, What are the underlying causes of so many people needing asylum? and then, How do we make this world full of meanness, indifference, and vast inequality, any more just? Any kinder, any more human? The pile leans and totters.
For now, these giant camps full of people are functioning as a sort of human stop sign, a message to those refugees stuck in Turkey and Lebanon and Jordan who might have hoped to follow: Don’t come. Europe does not want you.
I loved this essay by Rachel Hoge, on participating in a research study to find out if she carries a stuttering gene: “Why would I need scientific corroboration to make my disability legitimate? Is my speech itself not audible confirmation, measurable as a sound wave? And more importantly: Isn’t the validity of my own experience enough?”
In which the Magpie wonders, Can dogs live ?
It’s always a good week when you get a new Liana Finck comic.
Living with anxiety, the pressure to produce, and a Taco Bell at the end of the world: Don’t miss the debut of Laura Turner’s wonderful new Catapult column, A Cure for Fear.
Christine Hyung-Oak Lee (who has just published a beautiful memoir) broke my heart with her essay about depression, saving chickens in Korea, and her relationship with a beloved aunt: “She said I’d saved her life. And later, she saved mine. Because she saw me.”
For our Community site, Colin Drohan talked with Catapult instructor Shelly Oria about teaching fiction and life coaching, collaboration with other writers, and why she loves “hanging out in other people’s heads.”
Steven Wineman considers the power of language, voice, and authenticity, highlighting works by June Jordan, Edward Said, and Albert Camus.
Catherine LaSota on post-pregnancy bodily changes, and how they have affected the way she thinks about and approaches her life as an artist:
My body is my conduit for experiencing the world, and my job as an artist is to examine and share these experiences. Changes to my body meant I had to relearn how to process my sensory connection to my environment, but it also means that I am lucky enough to have the opportunity to experience the world, to a degree, with more than one body in my lifetime. I now have a before-and-after to explore, not only in terms of being a woman in her thirties both without and with a child, but also as a woman who feels sexy in her body versus a woman who is trying to figure out how her body works again. Talk about a rich well of material for my creative life.
Our TinyLetter of the Month feature continues with Brandon Taylor’s lovely little essay, “Hours.” I also chatted with Brandon about his newsletter, Virgin Wool, and some of his favorite TinyLetter writers.
Finally, today we published this very short story by Luisa Valenzuela, translated from Spanish by Marguerite Feitlowitz:
I answered the phone, and as soon as I heard the beep of the long-distance satellite, a smell of sulfur hit me like a warning in the face. The voice of the unknown caller didn’t sound particularly cavernous, but it was metallic. I recognized the insidious tone and knew without a doubt that it was the devil himself, hiding behind the innocuous disguise of a literary agent.