The Little

  • Dear reader,

    A few weeks ago, America elected its new President. Then came Thanksgiving. And now, just as final exams and papers are inevitably upon us, we present to you the Yale Little.

    It has taken us a good part of the semester to create a vision for the Little, and to reach out to writers and artists, read their work, and incorporate it into our new website. And then as everything was finally coming together, we second-guessed ourselves. What were we doing editing this website when our country and our futures suddenly became unrecognizable?

    But the submissions kept coming, and each one affirmed what we had already known. That we find strength in each other, in ourselves, in our voices. That despite our country’s penchant for believing what it wants to believe and ignoring what it doesn’t want to hear, true communication has lost none of its power.

  •                 after György Ligeti

     

    This August, I wake up
    in the heat, woozy as always.
    My figure lies stained
    on the sheets, which bunch up
    near the end of the bed.

    When I write, now, the lines
    come willingly. They’ve glutted
    on me; they can sense
    what’s in my hand.
    They’ve got me typeset,
    arranged on the page.

    Like a canon,
    our few motifs
    reverberate but
    do not breed;
    often they are only
    transposed, or
    given to another voice.

    But if I could get ahead
    of the echo, I might be able
    to blur the letters.

  • Today, it rained. I slept in.

    In 1650s Delft, on rainy days like today, the Dutch painter Jan Vermeer also slept in—I’d like to think.

    Yesterday was Saturday, so Mark drove down from Coventry, which is 20 minutes east of Hartford and the birthplace of Nathan Hale. At lunch, I ask Mark what he’d write a song about. “Climate Change,” he says. I watch him. He stares back. Mark, a 62-year old cabinetmaker, is one of my dearest friends. For two years, we have gathered wood from his property to shape into objects—bowls, birds, stools, benches. Around a bonfire, Mark will hand me a beer and list the problems of the world—overpopulation, disease, institutional oppression. Then, I’ll try to keep up with the whirring of his mind. I’ll think of jotting down solutions.

  • 1

    Cameras flashing, Nixon downtrodden,
    Amidst the sea of reporters, he stands out defeated.
    “This will be my last press conference”, famous last words,
    Stands of bulbs lie around to capture the moment in clear black-and-white.
    Reporters stalk him up the red carpet to the podium. There he stands and pauses,
    To collect his small speech.
    “You won’t have old Nixon to kick around anymore”.
    More flashes, and puffs from the bulbs,
    And the crowd of words from the gathered grey suits in front of him.

    2

    Nixon at his inauguration,
    The snow falls around the Capital steps.
    He sees, and smiles, and does not think.
    Two hundred thousand lie in the sea below him,
    This is a time for action, he says, and his concerned eyes glow,
    His hand clenches into a fist, and the crowd starts to buzz.

  • The road to Antelope, Oregon bears none of the trademarks of a pilgrimage route. No medieval cobblestones, no holy wells. No cairns or crosses or signposts inscribed with prayer. Instead, Route 293 winds through an unmarked landscape that’s more like a cross between the most desolate Star Wars planet and the set of a cheap Western film. High desert crags and plateaus the color of cardboard. Lonely fences draped in thick dust. Here and there a skinny cow, chewing on bone-dry scraggy sagebrush, blinks in weary bemusement at passing cars. The road itself—a potholed, dust-blown two-lane highway—connects the mountains of Central Oregon to towns everybody forgets about: Maupin, Fossil, Antelope, the lost reaches of the Eastern edge of the state. Yet at approximately 8:53 pm on a July evening, I stood in the middle of that road, knelt in the dust of the center lane, and praised God.

  • The Box 

    They called him the man on fire, and though he had strong shoulders and a warm face, I did not love him. Not in the way I was supposed to, at least.

    On our wedding day, as he slipped a simple gold band around a very particular left finger, he told me I am yours and you are mine and gods and mortals will all look down on us burning with the envy of a thousand suns and we will shine. And in that moment it was true. I was his, and he was mine. But all I could think about was the sad smile on his brother’s face as he held the empty ring box at his side. He cried a single tear and all the wedding guests in their chiffon and silver would go home to their families and say, boy, that brother, was he ever the one who loved the man on fire, even more than the woman who became his wife that day, the one who was given to him by the gods.

  • In my dream I wrote in my notebook that I was in love with a man. He lived on the other side of the world and had shaggy brown hair and wore ill-fitting sweaters in awful colors and I wished he would cut his hair and wear different sweaters. In the dream he gave me paintbrushes even though I don’t paint, and I wrote that in my notebook, too. In the dream I loved the paintbrushes.

    When I woke up I still loved the paintbrushes but I wanted to look in my notebook to see if I really loved them, or if I just loved him or both or maybe neither. But I couldn’t because the sweaters and the paintbrushes and the man and the notebook were only in my dream and I couldn’t look to see why or what or whom or why I loved.

    My friend told me not to tell her about my dreams unless she is in them.

  • The society we live in is full of boxes: boxes we must select or build ourselves, and boxes that other people fit us into. Though I am black, white and Native American, I’m often forced to choose one of the three, whether it’s during standardized tests or during conversations that ignore the possibilities besides and between white and black. Moreover, people who don’t know my racial identify often try to classify me, and often fail. But they know that I am an “other” of some sort, and I’ve gotten all sorts of guesses from Dominican to Aruban to Egyptian. Non-white, vaguely “exotic,” definitely “ethnic,” unmistakably “other.”

    This is disorienting because it sometimes means that I feel disconnected from a community, and because it leads to questions like “where are you from” (America) or “no, where are your parents from” (America) or “what are you?” which make me feel rootless and alone.

  • Hi friends,

    I’m writing this post to compile some of the recent writing about diversity in publishing & the literary world at large.

    If you aren’t tuned in to these discussions (and even if you are!) it can be hard to keep track of what’s being written where or to feel like you are a part of the conversation.

    What I’ve attempted to do here is make a genealogy of writing about race and representation in contemporary American lit so that (hopefully) connections, responses, and the shapes of arguments can come into focus. The questions at stake in these pieces are, of course, not new questions — whose voices are being heard? what voices are missing? — but I feel that they are being asked with increasing urgency right now.

    ***

    A good place to start is Cathy Park Hong’s article in Lana Turner, “Delusions of Whiteness in the Avant-Garde.