After the Morning: Reflections on Amiri Baraka's Legacy
By Sam Abrams, Ammiel Alcalay, Asha Bandele, Julian Bond, Wesley Brown, Benj DeMott, Tom DeMott, Diane di Prima, Bongani Madondo, Richard Meltzer, Jeremy Pikser, Connor Tomas Reed, Aram Saroyan, Robert Farris Thompson & Richard Torres
What follows are remembrances of Amiri Baraka by First writers and readers (new and old). While there's nothing official about this tribute, everyone who contributed hopes it might serve as a comfort and/or calmative to Baraka's wife Amina and his sons and daughters. Continue reading "After the Morning: Reflections on Amiri Baraka's Legacy"
Jesse Jackson and Black People (Redux)
By Amiri Baraka
We're honored to reprint Amiri Baraka’s reflections on Jesse Jackson, Dukakis and the 1988 Democratic Convention in Atlanta, which he composed in 1988-1989 (and which we originally posted at First near the start of the Obama era). This is an essay for the Ages but the history Baraka witnessed in 1988 has a special resonance in our time. Baraka's meditation begins (artfully) in medias res: Continue reading "Jesse Jackson and Black People (Redux)"
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Beat Better, Beat Worse
By Richard Meltzer
Since the release of Allen Ginsberg's deluxe, oversized Photographs in 1991, there has been a steady flow of coffee table offerings by and about authors of the Beat Generation...Given the proclivities of the marketplace, many more such whatsems are to be expected, a dicey outcome to say the least. From where I sit, Beat as literature and lore, text and tale—as simple a pleasure as watching rain fall, or a cat cleaning itself—is oddly served by packagings so lush, hightone, padded with surplus. Continue reading "Beat Better, Beat Worse"
Poetry & Money
By Aram Saroyan (& Oliver Conant)
Michael Lewis is an engaging writer, good with dialogue, and manages to make the dark stories he retails engaging without skirting their nastier implications. The message throughout is that “capitalism with the brakes off,” to use Saul Bellow’s phrase, isn’t a good idea. Continue reading "Poetry & Money"
"The program is for
students who already have
a lot on their minds,
who mean to have much,
much more on their minds."
-Robert Hullot-Kentor, Chair
P.C. on the Right
By Eugene Goodheart
Our educational system has been a site of contention between the left and the right, between conservatives and liberals. It is fair to say that major institutions of higher learning have been the intellectual property of the left in recent decades. Their besetting sin is political correctness, a disposition to view a range of issues such as race and gender from a moralizing left political perspective. Continue reading "P.C. on the Right"
The MLA: Singled Out for a Double Standard
By Bernard Avishai
In early January, the Delegate Assembly of the Modern Language Association Convention—perhaps the largest and most influential academic gathering in the humanities—passed, 60-53, a resolution urging its members to "contest" restrictions on the freedom of travel for American students and faculty members of Palestinian descent to universities in the West Bank. Another resolution, urging solidarity with scholars supporting boycott, divestment, and sanctions, against Israel, was not brought to the floor, but referred to Executive Committee for discussion. The issues were aired at a tense session entitled, with cheerful understatement, "Academic Boycotts: A Conversation About Israel and Palestine." Continue reading "The MLA: Singled Out for a Double Standard"
Beast of No Nation
By Francisco Goldman
The Beast: Riding the Rails and Dodging Narcos on the Migrant Trail is, along with Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers, the most impressive nonfiction book I’ve read in years. I first read it in Spanish a couple of years ago...in an edition published in 2010 by Icaria, a small press in Barcelona. In Mexico and Latin America, the book might as well have not existed. How could it be that this book, which should be urgent reading for all Mexicans at all interested in what occurs in their country, was not immediately published in Mexico? Continue reading "Beast of No Nation"
Song For My Father
By Fr. Rick Frechette CP
When his father died last month, Fr. Frechette felt under an "obligation, which was also a privilege" to speak clearly about what his father had "learned by a long and full life, by illness, and by accepting death as his teacher." Here is Fr. Frechette's attempt to express his father's earned wisdom. Continue reading "Song For My Father"
Love Is the Message: Tributes to Lawrence Goodwyn
By Donnel Baird, Terry Bouton, Elaine Brightwater, Dorothy Burlage, Chris Chafe, William Chafe, Benj DeMott, Thomas Ferguson, Todd Gitlin, Wade Goodwyn, Casey Hayden, Jim Hightower, Wesley Hogan, Woody Holton, Max Krochmal, Ralph Nader, Syd Nathans, Paul Ortiz, Tim Tyson & Peter Wood
This nineteen gun salute to Lawrence Goodwyn—late, great historian of social movements and exemplary democrat—amps up echoes from the memorial celebration that took place last month at Duke University in Durham. There are texts here of talks given by those who honored him then along with reflections by many other comrades... Continue reading "Love Is the Message: Tributes to Lawrence Goodwyn"