A body is neutral, objective, a fact—no more meant to be interpreted than a rock or a car. Different bodies shouldn’t mean different things, and yet. Other people have different interpretations of my husband’s body: its intent, threat, capabilities, worth.
At President Marion Leroy Burton’s invitation, Robert Frost arrived in the fall of 1921 to serve a one-year stint as the first Creative Fellow at Michigan. The two men were kindred spirits: Both forty-six, each had already achieved much, but had much higher ambitions—Burton to build Michigan into a great national university, Frost to become America’s greatest poet if not also a national institution. And each believed the other would help realize these ambitions.
The Iraqi poet Dunya Mikhail’s new book of nonfiction, “The Beekeeper: Rescuing the Stolen Women of Iraq,” tells one aspect of this story: the kidnapping and enslavement of Yazidi women by Daesh. More specifically, The Beekeeper is about one man’s efforts to rescue these women through a network that he set up himself.
In Ann Arbor, I’d been known as “the Alaska guy,” which now felt like a pose. Feeling too Alaska for the MFA book-world had supplanted how much of my life I’d felt too book for Alaska. Maybe that was why I’d been unable to progress on my novel. I’d left this place, after all. Had I ever really loved it, or just the way it let me represent myself?
“The Land Between Two Rivers” calls to mind James Agee’s “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men” in that both books were written by “amateurs”—both Sleigh and Agee are/were first and foremost literary writers, yet their books are works of journalism.