and no / by Laura Kochman

I can hear the blender going downstairs, in the apartment below ours, and for a minute I thought it was a wasp. I used to get wasps all the time in Tuscaloosa, sleepy and slow in the early spring, madder and more aggressive as the temperature got worse. They'd show up in my kitchen during the year that I lived alone in an apartment that was too big, with comically high ceilings, where they'd cluster around the light fixture that I could never reach. I always gave them the kitchen. I think my downstairs neighbors are Trump fans. I can hear them listening to political speeches sometimes, just loud enough to pick up the cadence and the tone, but not loud enough to make out any words.

The New Yorker has really embarrassed itself today, with a Calvin Trillin poem that I won't even link to, but here's a better take on the situation from Fanny Choi. And just yesterday, The Kenyon Review pulled the same kind of stunt with two poems "about" Native culture, from a writer whose Native heritage is questionable at best. I am intellectually curious about the claims we make on experience and culture, in the context of my own background and the push/pull I feel to the politics that I have supposedly inherited, but even so—no. This happens all the time, and no. I don't often write here about non-poetic stances (because I do still give in to ideas about what I should/not say), but really, this is a poetic stance, because writing and thinking are political acts. It is not okay to play with someone else's culture like it's a costume, or a curiosity. It is not okay to not consider others as you move through the world. No.