Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Rachel Hadas: Humble Herb is Rival to Prozac

The little notebook, its pages an eye-ease greenish tint, with my staggering penciled captions labeling every blessed thing, each flower picked and pressed and taped down to the page, contains more than specimens of wildflowers from a Vermont meadow. It encloses the first summer I remember.

September 18, 2021 · 5 Comments

Paul Christensen: The Changing Air of Nights

Night is a palace of memories, with the beams lashed to the roof and corded with fragments of childhood, vanished links of how we grew up, and faint traces of our mother caressing our hair and sending us up to bed after a rambling story about ghosts and goblins.

September 12, 2021 · 4 Comments

Rachel Hadas: What do the classics teach us about hope?

How do we weather this welter of bad news? How do we adapt?

September 12, 2021 · 3 Comments

Haya El-Refai: Laya’s first Eid

When war comes, it steals everything: souls, memories, homes, happiness, love and safety. Instead, it brings fear, blood, death, darkness and terror.

September 9, 2021 · 10 Comments

Video: Astronaut Leland Melvin Reads Pablo Neruda’s Love Letter to Earth’s Forests

Anyone who hasn’t been in the Chilean forest doesn’t know this planet. I have come out of that landscape, that mud, that silence, to roam, to go singing through the world.

September 5, 2021 · 3 Comments

Video: What it’s like to have Tourette’s — and how music gives me back control

Listen along as Alwani explores the power of music and delights the audience with an ethereal performance of her piano ballad.

September 4, 2021 · Leave a comment

Paul Christensen: Late Summer

Time holds everything in its ghostly hands, like someone touching the hot wine glasses on a merchant’s table.

August 29, 2021 · 5 Comments

Video: Thandiwe Newton | Embracing Otherness, Embracing Myself

Actor Thandiwe Newton tells the story of finding her “otherness” — first, as a child growing up in two distinct cultures, and then as an actor playing with many different selves. 

August 29, 2021 · Leave a comment

Christine Skarbek: Jocelyn

It soon became obvious she could not speak.  Finally, after many attempts, I got her name out of her, Jocelyn and finally, she looked at me straight on and said in a whisper, “You know, I used to be pretty.  I used to be smart.”

August 26, 2021 · 8 Comments

Rachel Hadas: Lessons of Poetry

It is easier to lecture about the time and place of a book, the culture that produced it, the special historical or linguistic problems involved in it. It is harder…to face the book as a masterpiece and to help the student understand why it is a masterpiece….

August 22, 2021 · 4 Comments

Jose Padua: In Proclamation to the Emperors of Agony

Seeing an audience in Central Park holding up their middle fingers in unison is one of my fondest memories—even though I wasn’t among those for whom the finger was intended.

August 21, 2021 · Leave a comment

W.D. Ehrhart: Afghanistan | Vietnam Redux

The real tragedy in all this is that the United States of America invaded yet another foreign country, imagining that we could bend it to our will and create a “Mini-Me” version of ourselves, and then spent twenty years, trillions of dollars, and thousands of lives ignoring what was obvious from the very outset.

August 20, 2021 · 6 Comments

Rebecca Gordon: Debt and Disillusionment

In 2019, the average debt of those earning a graduate degree was $71,000 on top of whatever the former students had already shelled out while in school. And that, in turn, is before the “miracle” of compound interest takes hold and the debt starts to grow like a rogue zucchini.

August 19, 2021 · 1 Comment

Paul Christensen: Back in France

When we pushed open the door to our village house, an old familiar odor of sun-warmed plaster rose up to us as if to give us an embrace.

August 15, 2021 · 6 Comments

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