Monthly archive June, 2011

The Hippo Hunters

“The secret art of river beating has been handed down from father to son through generations of hippo hunters, or, in the absence of surviving male children, from father to daughter. In cases of infertility, the childless couple may petition the headman to allow the adoption of a surrogate, an outsider, through whom the hippo...

Moderate Pomp

There’s a posse of amputees outside the UN Drive Supermarket. My van rolls into the lot and four of them limp toward the spot it’s about to take. The amputees are male, older than teenaged, but barely. Some are missing an arm; most lack a leg. Sitting shotgun in a twelve-seater van, I have some...

The Trespasser

The mother jiggles her key in the ancient lock, nudges open the heavy oak door with her shoulder, and freezes on the threshold. The father steps around her, enters the kitchen of the family cottage—last summer he and his daughter painted these walls sunshine yellow—and drops one of his two bags of groceries onto the...

The Object of My Preposition

In memory of Ken Saro-Wiwa He was a short man, five-two or so, no taller than I am. Straightaway I mistrusted him. “My family and I are coming from Rwanda.” He would not meet my eye. He swept away imaginary dust from the seat I offered, waved off my offer of coffee, snorted when I...

Ethics and Narrative: the Human and Other

Love for the weak always includes a certain murderous intent. —Kobe Abe Liberty is not the power of doing what we like, but the right to do what we ought. —Lord Dalberg-Acton Let us not begin with definitions. With academic references. With proof that many books have been studied on the subject. With the notion...

from the Editor’s Comment

“Only in America am I African,” opened Chimamanda Adichie, the Nigerian-born novelist, tossing a furtive look across the mostly American crowd assembled at UNLV’s Beam Music Center. “Being African means being hyper-aware. That I come from a place that is grossly misunderstood by a lot of people…breeds a certain kind of defensiveness. This applies in...

from the Editor’s Comment

At Witness, as we sought manuscripts for “Captured: Writing About Film and Photography,” these questions resonated deeply with the material we collected: How does the lens shape our vision? How does the act of filming affect our behavior? Our writing? How do we represent our ideas about how representations are made, and what, if anything,...

from the Editor’s Comment

Celebrated in an April 2010 BMI panel, “Blurring Borders” was inspired by foreign-born authors who reside in the U.S. and write in English about their native countries. The panel, featuring Junot Díaz, Yiyun Li, and Pablo Medina, thus became a launching point to consider borders of all kinds, chiefly those that edge place and the...

Letters from Kogi

Lokoja, Kogi The longer you wait for someone, the more important he must be. In the gubernatorial hall, my colleagues and I wait an hour for the cabinet to arrive. Another hour for the governor, who is actually governor, prince, and millionaire in one person, a power trinity. Your Excellency, Messiah of Kogi State, I...

Oh don’t

—Albumen silver print attributed to F.M. Parkes & Reeves the spirit wrote after the Civil War, in cloudy script like you might expect from someone without hands, the mediums busy with so many dead, collective push into the other world, all of us calling. Down by the river I remembered sawdust, his guitar, two or...

Eyecandy at Fifteen

Daydreaming is roller skating backwards to a couples’ song with a red jean banana bag—alone, not thinking—tons of lights on iodine-looking walls. Wallflower girl couples and the County Fair daisies, roses on their cheeks crack when I go by so my banana bag spills: broken roll-on strawberry gloss, bummed bong, red twelve-toothed pocket comb, thong....

Fast, But Mined with a Motion, a Drift

And what if it wasn’t our bodies? Breath of our bodies, bone of our bodies’ script. The voluptuary and night. That the sky knows itself the way touch remembers touch. Nachlass. November. Once even, in the dismal center of winter, what seemed the only supping. Porch light and yellowing. Corn and cloth. That the places...