We mounted a force against Alpha Centauri,
cruising past Io, vanadium mist, the comet mines,
but when we arrived, a thousand years had passed,
no one remembered how negotiations broke down
over a garbled pronoun, how the engine of syntax
sealed shut and began to hum.
“The Unfinished,” by D. Nurkse.
Feature image by Maik Wolf. Inner Space / Mausoleum 2, 2011, oil on canvas. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Michael Schultz.
I think the first thing—if you want to be a writer—the first thing you need to do is write. Which sounds like an obvious piece of advice. But so many people have this feeling they want to be a writer and they love to read but they don’t actually write very much. The main part of being a writer, though, is being profoundly alone for hours on end, uninterrupted by email or friends or children or romantic partners and really sinking into the work and writing. That’s how I write. That’s how writing gets done. — Redeemed, Amitava Kumar interviews Cheryl Strayed - Guernica / A Magazine of Art & Politics
I can always redirect attention to the fact that I’m white, or to the fact that my black daughter’s mother is. A clerk once told my daughter to leave a store because she was loitering. I was nearby, looking at towels. “Is there a problem?” I countered. “I’m her mother.” Even when I was living in the country where people lived less diversely, I had clear advantages, a stable job, advanced training in rhetoric I find useful every time I object. But I think of people who can’t immediately say to the officer or clerk: hey, I’m white here. And how quaint I sound, a white woman who understands racism at last, selfishly, for her daughter’s sake. Yet I don’t understand. I understand only that I used to be clueless: the sense of ease in day-to-day interactions I once took for granted. I’m also not living with ancestral history as trauma: enslavement, violence, segregation. I’m touchy because I’m protecting my daughter. I don’t have an ocean of grief hundreds of years old. — Gray Area by Debra Monroe - Guernica / A Magazine of Art & Politics
Nothing More to Lose, Najwan Darwish’s lyrical poetry collection published by New York Review of Books and translated by the half-American and half-Egyptian Kareem James Abu-Zeid, exemplifies everything we hope for from a poetry translation. Abu-Zeid has carefully considered every word and linguistic detail, examined the tone, rhythm and music of each poem. The result is poetry that holds the same haunting intelligence in English as in Arabic, a book that cleverly incites readers to ponder the meaning behind its title in every poem.
Kareem James Abu-Zeid: A Search for Justice and Expansive Identities - Guernica / A Magazine of Art & Politics
Illustration by Annelise Capossela.
Their camouflage is military-issue, and not even patterned in a way that would provide any tactical advantage beyond intimidation. They’re driving vehicles designed to endure anti-tank mines. There is no possible anti-tank mine threat in Ferguson. Those weapons are in many instances newer and better than the ones used by active-duty Army units. To me, the Ferguson PD doesn’t look like the police. It doesn’t even look like the military. It looks like Blackwater, kitted up in expensive gear, ready to deal death with impunity. It looks like amateur hour, except the amateurs have live ammunition.
The Ferguson PD have decided to treat protesting citizens as an enemy formation, which they are not. I can’t help but think about my battalion commander in Afghanistan. We were an occupying military force in a foreign country with an active insurgency. There were regular bomb detonations in our province, many of which were revenge attacks against Afghans who collaborated with the Karzai government. The enemy didn’t wear a uniform. We didn’t speak their language. And yet, we had leaders who made it a point to engage with the civilian population as human beings, the kind of leaders that the Ferguson police department does not have. There is no language barrier in Ferguson, nor is there an insurgency or an occupation. This is neither Afghanistan nor Iraq. This is not a war zone. This is not Gezi Park or Tahrir Square. This is America, though you wouldn’t know it. — Nathan Bradley Bethea: Echoes of Blackwater in Ferguson, Missouri - Guernica / A Magazine of Art & Politics
It was just my third day on the job; I was still learning to use the fax machine. A coworker who’d been on PTO my first two days appeared in my office, introduced himself via nutcracking handshake. He made small talk, then business-speak, back to small talk. Only so much to be said about the weather, the traffic, and the mayor. A column of silence rose between us. His gaze alighted on my head. “How did you get your hair like that?” He reached across my desk and ran his fingers through my hair.
I gripped his arm mid-arc, squeezed it just hard enough to signal my spirit, and flung it away. “If you want to touch my hair, you ask first. And when you do ask, I’ll say no.”
Shock and puzzlement leaped through his features. He flushed several shades of red, pivoted, exited. — Lyzette Wanzer: Twisted - Guernica / A Magazine of Art & Politics
Come join us at one of the most exciting times in Guernica history! We’re publishing our first-ever print edition in our 10th year, and here is a great opportunity to learn about all aspects of the publishing process.
Editorial Internship - Fall 2014
Guernica is now accepting applications for our fall editorial internship program (September 15th through December, 2014). Interns’ involvement with the magazine spans all stages of the production cycle. Primary responsibilities include copyediting, fact-checking, web production, social media management, and occasional special projects. Writing for the magazine (Guernica Daily in particular) is encouraged. Interns work approximately fifteen hours per week (remotely for the most part) and are expected to attend editorial meetings, held on alternate Thursday evenings in NYC. Because we are an all-volunteer publication, internships are unpaid; however, they may be used for academic credit.
If you are interested in applying for the editorial internship, please submit a cover letter and résumé to email@example.com no later than August 28, 2014. Applicants who interview for internships will be expected to complete a copy-editing test.
Publishing Internship – Fall 2014
Guernica is now accepting applications for our fall publishing internship program (September 15th to December 2014).
Publishing interns provide administrative support to the publishing team and primary responsibilities include building and updating databases, communicating with Guernica supporters and partners, helping to organize Guernica readings and special events (including our 10th anniversary Gala on November 5th), supporting marketing and publicity efforts, and providing general administrative support during our 10th anniversary year. Publishing interns must be available to work between ten and fifteen hours per week at the Guernica office and are expected to attend editorial meetings, held on alternate Thursday evenings in NYC. Because we are an all-volunteer publication, internships are unpaid; however, they may be used for academic credit. Candidates must have a demonstrated interest in the business side of magazine publishing.
Interested applicants should send their resume and a brief cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Fall Publishing Internship” no later than August 28, 2014.
We’re still accepting applications— there are three days left!
There was this very deliberate move to just overlay an American reality in Iraq. I’ve never actually seen the map, but apparently Americans thought the names of places were just too complicated so they got decent maps of Baghdad and just renamed everything with familiar names. This neighborhood would be Hollywood, that neighborhood would be Manhattan, and that one’s Madison, you’re going to drive down Oak and take a left on Main Street. That’s all fine if everyone was reading off the same map. But then they would have to deal with the translators, and the translators at first were not allowed to see the map because the maps were classified. So the Americans would say, “Right now we’re going to ‘Dallas,’ what’s the best way to get to Dallas from here? Should we take Main Street or Roosevelt Avenue?” And the translators would look at them bewildered!
So finally the translators are brought into the system and they learn how to use the names—they won’t say Khark, they’ll say Manhattan. That’s so they can talk to the Americans. But then the translators are at a checkpoint, and they’re told to explain to pedestrians: “You need to do a U-turn, turn left, and head over to Dallas.” The Americans would be yelling this at pedestrians and then insisting that the translators had to translate. So there are literally two maps these guys would have to deal with and they would have to learn and translate between these maps. That for me is a great metaphor for the kind of project that we’re talking about. In the Green Zone you have your radio, you have your food, you have your own electricity, your own toilets. Everything is a sealed American reality overlaid on top of an infrastructure that is crumbling. — Grays in the Emerald City , Henry Peck interviews Elliott Colla - Guernica / A Magazine of Art & Politics
Fourth of July, 1895
The ferry was coming special because it was the Fourth of July. Some of the kids from school were there but I stayed apart from them and threw handfuls of sawdust into the water and watched it drift and spiral and sink. Ben and Joseph McCandliss showed up and no one wanted to play with them, either. They were orphans now since their father had been sent to the penitentiary in Seattle. I remembered when my father left me and Mother when I was little. He came back but he still wasn’t around very often. Mother sometimes called him the boarder. Ben and I were both eleven years old and would be in the same class if Ben went to school. Joseph was fourteen and had already, more than once, spent the night in jail. Miss Travois had taken them in but I’d heard they didn’t sleep there, they just did whatever they liked. Wharf boys, we’d all been warned against them.
The Bully of Order, An excerpt from the novel by Brian Hart - Guernica / A Magazine of Art & Politics
Image by Frank Walter, Yacht in Peril , Oil on photographic paper. Courtesy Ingleby Gallery.
I don’t remember when I started digging—maybe when I was about eleven years old, just after my family moved from Fresno, California, and into the farmlands and cattle-range land beyond the San Joaquin River—but I remember standing in one of the partially excavated holes and pausing to watch a slow-moving flock of vultures pass over to the sun-burned foothills at the base of the high sierras, Yosemite, Ansel Adams country. Those dark birds rode the cycling thermals in silence, now and then shifting their stiff wings to bank and turn, the way vultures do, heavy and awkward, articulating an invisible column of air rising through the troposphere and into the blue ether above.
And I dug, blade by blade, shoveling my way through scratchy sandy loam and down into the hardpan. I dug until the foxholes measured roughly chest-high for a grown man. I improvised overhead cover to protect against indirect fire, the metallic trajectories of mortar rounds and artillery shells. Wooden sector stakes marked the left and right limits for each soldier. A shelf carved into the back wall for binoculars, map, compass, maybe a cup of coffee in the winter. Grenade sumps and earthen berms to shield the defenders from small-arms fire. Each hole big enough to hold a casket. Each fighting position based on the dimensions I’d found in Dad’s infantry field manuals. And as I worked through the morning and deeper into the earth, I wore his old National Guard uniform, with black combat boots laced up tight. My green rucksack loaded with leftover C-rats, as well as a P-38 can opener, collapsible dinnerware, candles, matches, a coiled length of nylon cordage, an emergency survival kit waterproofed in plastic, a mummy bag for inclement weather, Penthouse magazines from 1976 and Soldier of Fortune. — I Said Infantry by Brian Turner - Guernica / A Magazine of Art & Politics