By Deb A.
The slide of a book off a shelf, the crack of its spine; the shushed shuffling, the silent studying, the click of keys on shared computers... public libraries house the subdued hums of entire communities at work. And yet, a library is not merely the sum of its stacks of books and rooms of computer screens. Libraries offer so much more than simple literary transactions: they are community hubs in which users can learn to navigate the world outside.
Anyone entering a library can access a world of knowledge: the non-fiction that equips us with the information we need and the fiction that feeds our imagination, helping us build empathy each time we walk through a world in someone else's shoes. Libraries are community centres that operate on principles of equality and civic duty; they are the natural home of intellectual freedom. And so, when four librarians founded Libraries 4 Black Lives, it made perfect sense: as they argue, "if we uphold intellectual freedom then we must also uphold freedom itself. As library workers, we must, then, grapple with the forces stripping communities of personal, religious and collective freedom."
The initiative was brought to life following two separate murders of black men by police officers within 24 hours last summer. The idea was to encourage fellow librarians to promote, support, and collaborate on the pursuit of social justice in their institutions and across the country. Alongside offering resources (including "Building Empathy Through Reading", "A Black Lives Matter Reading List", and "Helping Children Deal with Shootings and Other Bad News") and a pledge, Libraries 4 Black Lives examines the role libraries can play in addressing "systemic racial injustice and implicit personal bias" and enabling entire communities to transform.
Another great reason to make sure you have your library card.
Schizophrenic, wrenched by two styles,
one a hack's hired prose, I earn
my exile. I trudge this sickle, moonlit beach for miles,
to slough off
this love of ocean that's self-love.
To change your language you must change your life.
I cannot right old wrongs.
Waves tire of horizon and return.
Gulls screech with rusty tongues
Above the beached, rotting pirogues,
they were a venomous beaked cloud at Charlotteville.
Once I thought love of country was enough,
now, even if I chose, there's no room at the trough.
I watch the best minds root like dogs
for scraps of favour.
I am nearing middle-
age, burnt skin
peels from my hand like paper, onion-thin,
like Peer Gynt's riddle.
At heart there's nothing, not the dread
of death. I know too many dead.
They're all familiar, all in character,
even how they died. On fire,
the flesh no longer fears that furnace mouth
that kiln or ashpit of the sun,
nor this clouding, unclouding sickle moon
whitening this beach again like a blank page.
All its indifference is a different rage.
Love After Love
The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
By Deb A.
It's that time again: here's what may have slipped under your radar.
As classic dystopian fiction surges to the top of bestseller lists, Margaret Atwood wrote about The Handmaid's Tale and the significance of bearing witness in America's current political climate for the New York Times.
The Guardian looks at the numbers and concludes, happily, that hate doesn't sell.
Because you've already clicked 'agree': R. Sikoryak has turned iTunes's Terms and Conditions into a graphic novel.
Do you hear characters' voices even after you've put down your book? You're not alone.
The shortlist of the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize is on display in London.
Co-edited by Agave Magazine favourite Mahvesh Murad, The Djinn Falls in Love is out now in the UK and will be available in North America from March 14th. The Washington Post loves it and you will too.
By Deb A.
On Wednesday French artist Abraham Poincheval gingerly emerged from an Abraham Poincheval-shaped hole in a 12-tonne limestone rock. He had been there for a week.
The performance piece, entitled Pierre (Stone), had Mr. Poincheval sitting in the dark inside a rock with only water, soup and dried meat for sustenance. Air flowed through small holes in the rock. His only sense of time was gleaned from the muffled sounds of museum activity.
This is not the first time Mr. Poincheval has pushed his emotional and physical limits in isolation: He spent a week in an oversized glass bottle in 2015, nearly two weeks in a bear carcass in 2014, and has lived outdoors on top of a 20-metre pole. He also spent a week reading... in a hole under a bookstore. For the artist, enclosure is actually a way to explore the world.
"We are already locked into our own bodies," he told Agence France Presse before entering the boulder. During his performance he compared his experience to "tripping": "It's very complex. You pass from one feeling to another. Like you are being carried away on a raft." While he found it disconcerting to be unsure of the time of day and his own sleep cycle, Mr. Poincheval was moved by the visitors who came by to talk at him through a crack in the rock.
The next part of the artist's solo show at Palais de Tokyo in Paris will take about a month--he will be hatching hen's eggs inside a display case in Oeuf (Egg).
Although much of his art involves being trapped in tight places, his biggest dream is very different: for the last five years he's been working on a way to walk on clouds.
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