In 1928, Hollywood film studio artists drew “the ideal screen type.” An amalgamation of the famous disembodied parts of Hollywood stars, the ideal screen type was doe-eyed and fair, holding her willowy arms at a coy akimbo. Beside the artists’ illustration of the composite ideal appeared the remarkable photographic image of the composite ideal’s real-life double: silent film star Anita Page. Born Anita Pomares, in Flushing, Queens, Salvadoran-American silent film star Anita Page possessed a beauty that was uncannily familiar: the eyes of Mary Pickford, the smooth white arms of Clara Bow, and the wasp waist of Bebe Daniels. Had the camera trained its lens more closely upon Anita’s exquisite nose, this shot would have recorded her beautifully-full Latina nose as well.
Michigan Quarterly Review is pleased to announce that it has awarded this year’s trio of literary prizes to the authors of an amusing—and poignant—story about strangers in the strange land of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, an elegant poem on perspectives during a balloon flight, and a gritty poem listing the detritus of life at a Detroit high school.
“The crazy thing is I’ve never been called a nigger to my face” begins Issa Rae’s blogpost. Issa Rae, for all those who do not know, is the creator, writer and star of the hit web series, “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl.” In her recent article,“People on The Internet Can Be Hella Racist” Rae describes how after winning the 2012 Shorty Awards, her twitter and Facebook pages were inundated with racist comments, that ranged from horrific to downright deplorable: “I nominate @awkwardblackgirl for @shortyawards in #cottonpicking.” And then “#ThingsBetterThanAwkwardBlackGirl The smell coming from Trayvon Martin.” Most times, I’m not even sure these people are fully aware of what those words truly evoke in a historical context. These are people, who I imagine, outside of the internet are perfectly respectful to people of color, might even have friends of a darker complexion, might even have voted for Obama (Yes We CAN!), but somehow they traded in their civil decorum and decency for the internet’s anonymity.
The children I write with die, no matter how much I love them, no matter how creative they are, no matter how many poems they have written, or how much they want to live. They die of diseases with unpronounceable names, of rhabdomyosarcoma or pilocytic astrocytoma, of cancers rarely heard of in the world at large, of cancers that are often cured once, but then turn up again somewhere else: in their lungs, their stomachs, their sinuses, their bones, their brains. While undergoing their own treatments, my students watch one friend after another lose legs, cough up blood, and enter a hospital room they never come out of again.