Literature

Chimneys Dark & Spirits Bright

It might be said that Dickens’s fiction—holiday and otherwise—plumbs the blackened, sooty depths of human depravity to ultimately offer hope in visions bright as a blazing hearth.

Literature

Prophesying Fire: The Legacy of James Baldwin

The critic’s role, and the role of Baldwin’s heirs, is now to assess how close we stand to the imminent blaze that the great man foresaw. It may be that we are engulfed already.

Poetry

The Window Shoppers

A poem by Maryann Corbett

Film & Television

Racism 101

On Nikki Giovanni’s 1994 essay collection, Nichelle Nichols, who played Uhura on Star Trek, conversations about race, and slowly learning to empathize with our neighbor’s burdens…

Poetry

Shaving

A poem by Jonathan Diaz

Film & Television

From the Archive: Blood & Belief

The cringe: of natural human reactions, it is among the most visceral. Drawn to and repelled by the horrors of an image, it reveals our humanity.

Film & Television

(Bad) Jesus Stories

“If you know that I am an unbeliever, then you know me better than I do myself. I may be an unbeliever, but I am an unbeliever who has a nostalgia for a belief.” – Pier Paolo Pasolini

Poetry

PLAYA DE LOS COCOS

A poem by Aaron Belz

Humanity

From the Archives: On the Meaning of Baseball (and a Suggestion)

As the 2009 World Series begins, we might fairly ask: what is the meaning of baseball?

Humanity

Caring Who Wins

What really matters is that I choose a team and commit to rooting for someone, because that is how I become part of the story.

Humanity

From the Archives: The Art of Baseball

It’s baseball season once more.

Poetry

Waiting for the Gloom to Lift

A poem by Trevor Sides

Visual Art

Through His Eyes

The problematic vantage of the Georgia O’Keeffe exhibition at the Tate Modern

Poetry

The Trail

A poem by John Grey

Literature

Shirley Jackson and the Ordinariness of Evil

On a fear of conformity—the prospect of becoming someone else’s idea—that compelled Jackson to divulge not only the supernatural but the wickedness of the everyday.

Blog

The Well Said Yes

Written early in his duty at The Curator, this is a lasting note from Adam Joyce, our Editor-in Chief.

Literature

Letters from Fairyland

Italo Calvino’s letters remind us how he wanted his work in fiction to “subtract weight,” to relieve human burdens.

Poetry

Ziplock

A poem by Elise Kimball

Literature

Tricks Every Boy Can Do

Tricks Every Boy Can Do falls in the tradition of brother narratives, but it stands apart in its decency.

Film & Television

Krzysztof Kieślowski: Film History’s Gracious Metaphysician

The restoration and re-release of The Decalogue amplifies and re-asserts what many of us already know: Kieślowski was one of the most earnest and talented spiritual pilgrims ever to work in the cinema. In his films ethical questions are never easy, but always essential.

Poetry

MATSUSHIMA (After Bashō)

A poem by Genevieve Leone

Humanity

The Cost of Customization

On Sherman Alexie, C.S. Lewis, and the shortcomings of the “customized” life lived at the expense of tradition and community

Poetry

Fiat

A poem by Jessina Leonard

Music & Performing Arts

My CD Collection: Les Miserables

I can’t revisit this album because it means revisiting a host of other issues that belong in a therapy session, not here in a semi-weekly column. Les Miz fails to admit what all musicals, and all people, should: That while it is necessary, at times, to break into song, it’s also necessarily ridiculous.

Poetry

GO’AL NEFESH (גועל נפש)

A poem by Danielle Herb

Humanity

Working Classes

Philip Levine and Studs Terkel on the meaning of labor.

Literature

Becoming Inhuman

What do Heart of Darkness and American Psycho have to teach us about consumption, our common humanity, and the current American political moment?

Poetry

Over Heard

A poem by Adam Whipple

Visual Art

The Curator Interviews a Curator

Meaghan Ritchey with Dr. Daniel A. Siedell

Music & Performing Arts

My CD Collection, Week 4—Fishbone, Truth and Soul

The “truth” Fishbone sang about came through in glimmers that introduced this kid from Orange County USA to a world past the suburbs. The “soul,” however, shone through loud and clear—in the careening panache the band’s talent embodied, in its overflowing life.

Film & Television

“Trickster” and Tragicomedian

Woody Allen as “God’s Loyal Opposition”

Humanity

Why We Need the Olympics in Brazil

Watching the opening ceremony, Rebecca Martin reflects on why the United States, in desperate need of empathy and self-reflection, should heed the way Brazil has presented itself to the world.

Poetry

kinderflauten

A poem by Aaron Belz

Humanity

In and Out of the Marvellous

On the poetry of Seamus Heaney, Henri Bergson’s idea of “psychological time”, technology, and the pursuit of making the irretrievable poetic after all

Music & Performing Arts

My CD Collection, Week 3—V/A, Bob Dylan in the 80’s: Volume One

The music business doesn’t seem conducive to profiting off covering songs a 70-something, famous though he is, wrote over twenty years ago. For the producers to put all that effort and money into making this CD as the CD as a species faces extinction is an act of irrational, endearing hope.

Poetry

Lessons of the Eucharist

A poem by Leilani Mueller

Humanity

The Wounds of Belief

An interview with mewithoutYou’s Aaron Weiss about religious fanaticism…

Humanity

Transformation, Kintsugi, and the Atomic Bomb

That the Day of Transfiguration is celebrated on August 6, also the seventy-first anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, challenges the notion that broken things must remain broken, and suggests that no one—not victims of conflict nor those guilty of the horrors of war—are beyond healing.

Music & Performing Arts

My CD Collection—Week 2, The B-52’s, Cosmic Thing

To borrow a phrase from Robert Christgau, “Everything Rocks and Nothing Ever Dies.” Life is bonkers.

Poetry

Discernment

A poem by Amanda Ryan

Literature

Escaping from Infinite Density

Writing in the same tradition as great 20th Century authors like William S. Burroughs, David Foster Wallace, and others, de la Pava’s aim is satirical, and like all good satire, A Naked Singularity reveals what has been there, if only people would look and see.

Music & Performing Arts

My CD Collection: Week 1, The Strokes, Is This It

The Strokes were more art-school cool than the self-consciously blue-collar White Stripes, the ironic Hives, or the commercially polished Jet, yet I enjoyed all the music I heard on the radio by these bands, their songs a nice antidote to the post-grunge and Nu Metal saturating airwaves.

Humanity

Podcast Bricolage?

Michel de Certeau famously wrote about bricolage, which roughly means “do-it-yourself” meaning-making. In our post-industrial society, the regular practice of listening to podcasts can serve as rich and timely curation for authentic being in our world.

Poetry

Cigarette

A poem by Kerenza Ryan

Humanity

Rocket Girls

Turn the clock back a few decades and read Rocket Girls to appreciate the women who were pioneers in every sense of the word—from the moon launch to our own work culture.

Music & Performing Arts

My CD Collection: Week Zero, Introduction

“My CD Collection” will be me trying to reckon with the personal history wrapped up in that pile of CDs, along with a critical engagement with its music, its packaging, and the notion that to judge something—like, say, a record by a female-fronted power pop band named after a childhood pen pal—is to step into it.

Poetry

Tradition

A poem by James E. Allman Jr.

Humanity

The Life Lost in Information

Where does our current trajectory of information overload lead us? “Choruses from ‘The Rock'” may a clue

Humanity

A Hint Towards Podcasts

Hearing stories from another voice, even if tinged with unmistakable NPR idiosyncrasy, is a welcome afternoon respite, a dual sense of intimacy and escape once the heavy-lifting of the morning’s creative work was done.

Poetry

While You Were Sleeping

A poem by Paloma Douglas

Humanity

I’m Bored

We live in a world of constant entertainment—but is too much stimulation boring?

Poetry

the family farm

A poem by Christopher C. Schrock

Literature

On Sandra Cisneros’ A House of My Own

“We tell a story to survive a memory in much the same way the oyster survives an invading grain of sand. The pearl is the story of our lives, even if most wouldn’t admit it.”

Humanity

Noteworthy: More than a Spectator

On Bill Cunningham, the legendary NYT fashion photographer, and his open-hearted pursuit of beauty…

Music & Performing Arts

We Are All Moths

An Interview with Ryan Lott of Son Lux wherein he discusses creativity, spiritual metaphors, and unexpected discoveries in music…

Film & Television

Sunspring Review

It’s good news for AI enthusiasts and sci-fi fans: artificial intelligence has written a screenplay.

Literature

FROM THE ARCHIVE: The Great Railway Bazaar

Almost forty years after its publication, Paul Theroux’s narrative of a train trip from Europe to Japan is still bandied about Goodreads and NPR summer reading specials as an essential travelogue.

Poetry
Humanity

FROM THE ARCHIVE: Renewing the Dialect of the Tribe

A conversation with Marilyn Chandler McEntyre on the responsibilities of writers, fidelity to communal conversations, and how we talk about death.

Poetry

the coming fire

A poem by Tamer Mostafa

Poetry

Navigator

A wintery poem for the start of summer by John Grey

Literature

The Falling Star of the Self

Ocean Vuong’s poetry emerges as a gracious offering, seeking empathy while eschewing a self-referential impulse, a surrender evoked in the brevity of his lines as they cascade in small rivulets down the page.

Humanity

Do You Know the San Man?

Sanitation workers are remaking our world.

Literature

A Review of Seeing Red

Words are as biological as saliva.

Poetry

Nimrodel

A poem by Catherine Hervey

Humanity

Doses of Sodium Pentothal and Homemade Bombs

Living with the absence in Brussels…

Film & Television

Whit Stillman: Words to the Side

“Happiness in life is often constructed from tiny wonderful things—hot toast with butter—not big things.”

Humanity

To Read and Write in L.A.

Two women approached us; one of them asked, “Are you writers?”

Poetry

Waiting for Gabriel

A poem by Molly Hulsey

Music & Performing Arts

Radiohead in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

If there is one protest that runs through the Radiohead canon, it is a continual dismay at the state of modern unreality. Moon Shaped Pool asks us to look, one last time, and see ourselves before we go.

Literature

Arriving Where We Started

The Liturgy of Teaching The Inklings

Music & Performing Arts

An Interview with Lecrae

Charles Carman and Lecrae pick up where they left off—this time discussing Lecrae’s new book Unashamed, a collection of his thoughts on the faithful creative life.

Literature

Donora Hillard Abides In ‘Jeff Bridges’

Hillard has picked the stickiest sayings, the half-sleepiest, and said them into her life again and again until she couldn’t distinguish life from Jeff.

Film & Television

Faith and Doubt in Game of Thrones

The failure of Stannis and the faithfulness of Abraham serve as dual reminders that in order to be truly human, we must relinquish the idea of total control.

Poetry

Slipped and Sunk

A poem by Anne Boyle

Blog

Small Gifts: A Sort of Review of The Little Magazine in Contemporary America

For a “little magazine” to dedicate its institutional life to the singular pursuit and support of the avant-garde seems off. Avoiding this myopic concentration on experimentation, The Curator lives with the centrifugal energy of a gift economy.

Humanity

A Review of Barton Swaim’s Memoir, The Speechwriter

Barton Swaim imitates Mark Twain, the American master of satirical humor. His insights can give us the perspective we need during an election where humorists are straining to parody an already exaggerated reality.

Poetry

The forgotten package

A poem by Lauren Elrick

Poetry

What is Your Desiderata

A poem by Michelle Lewis

Literature

Room to Grow

Beverly Cleary’s Charitable Storytelling

Humanity

She Left Me at a Praise Rally

Confusion over God, girls, feelings, and other matters…

Poetry

Methods of Prayer

A poem by Nathaniel Lee Hansen

Film & Television

Stanley Kubrick: Mystic

As the trailer for the documentary Room 237 puts it, The Shining is a labyrinth into which we are irrevocably drawn; like the Overlook Hotel, it offers “many ways in” but “no way out.”

Poetry

Survival Accents

A poem by Jordan Nakamura

Poetry

Precipice Lake

A poem by Paul Willis

Humanity

LSD and the Baptisms of Tahquitz Canyon

Drugs or no drugs, mystical revelation or the reliable rhythm of daily prayer, we have to be able to live meaningful lives without depending on something from without to shatter our reality each moment.

Humanity

The Turkey Bomber

As ridiculous as it may feel to interpret a small happening as providential, it can feel similarly ridiculous to declare every circumstance coincidental.

Poetry

Good Friday, 1613. Riding Westward

A Good Friday poem by John Donne

Humanity

The Danger of Reading

“Nobody can get a secure grip on this nearly infinite variety of inquiry and vocabulary, but every attempt to read across the boundaries of one’s own preferred practices is a tonic and a stimulant.” ~ Alan Jacobs

Film & Television

Kierkegaard in L.A.: Terrence Malick’s Knight of Cups

Knight of Cups is a quest for faith in a distinctly Kierkegaardian key.

Poetry

Not so good

A poem by Marc Carver

Poetry

80 Degrees and Sonny in Charleston

A poem by Marjorie Maddox

Music & Performing Arts

Metal’s Romantic Rebellion

If Romantic creativity finds its spark in antagonism to neat, ordered, too-rational, even bourgeois environments, then it has found one of its most fruitful expressions in that often cliché-ridden genre of music beloved of adolescent boys, tattooed muscle heads, faux-Satanists, aficionados of technique, and normal people alike: heavy metal.

Film & Television

Breakthrough Cinema via iPhone

Sean Baker’s Tangerine questions the current conversation about trans culture

Visual Art

John Bauer Is Producing Heat after Death

John Bauer is an artist making paintings after the end of painting—and those paintings are HOT!

Humanity

The Day That Often Isn’t

Today is not a day “added” onto every fourth calendar year. It is always there. We just have trouble figuring out how to make room for it.

Poetry

Estuary & Wasteland

Two poems by Greta Nintzel

Visual Art

Austin Mann: Not in the Louvre but on It

What happened when the museum and Apple collaborated—the Louvre renovating its Decorative Arts Pavilion and Apple beginning its 2015 “Shot on iPhone 6” ad campaign—was sublime

Poetry

Dear M,

“The secret name is the gesture that restores the creature to the unexpressed.” – from Profanations by Giorgio Agamben

Literature

Fantasy and Motivation

True freedom comes with risk, and if we live in an enchanted universe then the risk is real, but the burdens are light.

Film & Television

Where To Invade Next

“The American Dream was alive everywhere except America.” – Michael Moore

Humanity

What is a Video Game?

On the new video game The Beginner’s Guide , a small step into a new world of gaming, one focused on approaching narrative in a new way, and provoking thoughts beyond the end of the game itself.

Poetry

Vague Demons

A poem by Autumn Krause

Poetry

Ash Wednesday

A Lenten poem by Chris Davidson

Literature

Cold Wars and Culture Wars

A review of Ludmila Ulitskaya’s The Big Green Tent and the use of beauty in hard times.

Poetry

First

A poem by Holly Day

Film & Television

Old Dark House Movies

Like a lonely old house during a summertime storm, there is a little bit of comedy, a little bit of horror, and a lot of mystery…

Humanity

Faith is a Foreign Country

Searching for counter-culture in a cloistered monastery

Poetry
Humanity

On the Minds of Makers

“In art, the Trinity is expressed in the Creative Idea, the Creative Energy, and the Creative Power—the first imagining of the work, then the making incarnate of the work, and third the meaning of the work.” ―Dorothy L. Sayers

Humanity

Thumbs Down, Crying Eyes

What we’re missing when we use emoji

Poetry

Hospitality

A poem by Laura Flemming

Poetry

Footnote to Augustine

A poem by Calvin Cummnigs

Literature

The Empathy of Gina Berriault

The places her characters go are scary, but they’re also where we find the crux of Berriault’s fiction: a genuine attempt to understand the unresolved.

Poetry

My Friend and I

A poem by Danny P. Barbare

Humanity

Agents of Change

A review of James McCullough’s Sense and Spirituality and how the arts can serves as a catalyst for spiritual growth

Literature

Noteworthy: Cutting through Static

The tiniest things are extremely powerful.

Film & Television

When the Bough Breaks

A malign interloper ferreted out by a pair of canny children, or a mother horribly abused by her own delusional sons?

Music & Performing Arts

Winter Albums: Sounds for the Season

It’s a chilly album, but there’s a lot of warmth sheltered in the ice.

Poetry

The grass tells me what to do.

A poem by Donald Illich

Humanity

The Worlds Numbers Built

Reality and Fantasy in Michael Clune’s Gamelife

Humanity

The Art of Memoir

What Mary Karr’s New Book Teaches Us About Ourselves

Poetry

The Magi

A Christmas Poem by W.B. Yeats

Film & Television

Noteworthy: Aziz Ansari’s Master of None

The point of Master of None’s painstakingly awkward scenario humor is not just that the conversation about race in the world of film and TV still needs to be had, but that in the current climate, it might be impossible to have correctly.

Poetry

A Way of Happening

Personal technology caters to our every wish in order to make the world a more convenient place for us to navigate, but poetry resists the utilitarian, self-oriented posture that certain technological devices encourage.

Poetry

Laundry

A poem by Dolly Lee

Literature

Cormac McCarthy at Christmas

The art of McCarthy can help constitute a moment to ask the questions necessary for finding ourselves in need of such an intervention, supplanting our nostalgia with inquiry and our happiness with real joy.

Poetry

Rose 62

A poem by Michael Schiavo

Humanity

Being Near The End

A photographer’s reflection on the end of a friend’s life

Film & Television

The Landscape of Joy in a Fast-Happy Society

“The best way out is always through.”~ Robert Frost, “A Servant to Servants”

When sadness carves a deep valley in us, it’s also making space for joy to burst in—our holiday at sea.

Poetry

Art of Retail

A poem by Lucas Smith

Humanity

The Sensational Lives of Clergymen

On four Protestant priest-scholars who came not to proselytize, but to remind readers that this world is full of magic, some of which is conducted in the shadows.

Film & Television

Ex Machina and Technological Somnambulism

“We become what we behold.”— Marshall McLuhan

Poetry

The Poem of Questions

A poem by Manash Bhattacharjee 

Film & Television

The Scientific Method at the Metroplex

In a genre that tends to glorify science, progress, and interplanetary exploration compounded with a culture that values rugged individualism, The Martian refreshingly reinforces fundamental impulse towards compassion.

Music & Performing Arts

Fervent Self-Searching in Daloy Dance’s “Canton Atbp”

Portraying the sex workers of Manila, desired and desiring bodies permeated Ea Torrado’s dance “Canton Atbp” at the 2015 Fringe Manila Arts Festival.

Poetry

White

A poem by Laura Cronk

Poetry

The Poet Who Murdered His Wife

The lives of Gu Cheng and Xie Ye

Film & Television

A Beautiful, Terrible Sound

In Crimson Peak, del Toro’s fantastical aesthetics are on full display, especially if one listens closely.

Poetry

Graffiti Guy

A poem by John Grey

Poetry

After the Exile

A poem by Corey Mesler