Meet the Author:
Illustrations: Ken Krimstein,  Chicago, United States

Committee to Protect Jounalists

The Committee to Protect Journalists is a New York City-based "independent, nonprofit organization that promotes press freedom worldwide. We defend the right of journalists to report the news safely and without fear of reprisal."(From the CPJ website.)

When Writing is Neither Solitary nor Apolitical

Committee to Protect Jounalists, New York City, United States 
Illustrations: Ken Krimstein, Chicago, United States 

Here is this week’s addendum to the Polity of Literature series: Because writers often compose their sentences in the relative calm and isolation of home or office, some people assume that writing is a solitary, apolitical activity. To give context to that assumption, here’s the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)’s recently published list of recommended preparations for writers who plan...

Reading as Poaching

Michel de Certeau, Paris, France 
Translation: Steven Rendall, Les Barthes, France 
Illustrations: Ken Krimstein, Chicago, United States 

The twenty-second piece in our Polity of Literature series: “Reading as Poaching” is an essential text for the Polity of Literature, and a dense, word-by-word read; but flex your head, as the wise man* said, and this essay will reward you. The images are the stars! “Readers are travellers,” Michel de Certeau, the French Jesuit scholar and psychologist, wrote. “They move...

Ahmet Altan: Wood Sprites

Ahmet Altan, Istanbul, Turkey 
Illustrations: Ken Krimstein, Chicago, United States 

The twenty-first piece in our Polity of Literature series: The best libraries are often tiny, as small as a single book. A library’s value is in its use. Every book that a prisoner comes by, or that a refugee carries with her, opens onto other worlds and a realm of agency—a single book can unlock an entire subjectivity, the reader’s....

Stones stand in for the words: thoughts on a polity of literature

Shawn Van Sluys, Guelph, Canada 
Illustrations: Ken Krimstein, Chicago, United States 

Books cited: Karen Solie, The Caiplie Caves, House of Anansi Press, 2019 Jan Zwicky, Lyric Philosophy, Gaspereau Press, 2009 With reference to ArtsEverywhere series, Polity of Literature, edited by Matthew Stadler 2020 has been a bumper year for readers. Without the usual social obligations tugging us away from our bookshelves and reading lists, we could indulge in a life of...

The Secret Library of Daraya

Delphine Minoui, Istanbul, Turkey 
Illustrations: Ken Krimstein, Chicago, United States 

The twentieth piece in our Polity of Literature series: Wherever there are libraries, there are threats to libraries. Any collection of books needs both care and readers, without which they will decay into paper and dust (or, with digital libraries, into meaningless, unread sequences of code). Libraries have been targets in war since the sacking of Alexandria. In Syria, in...

“Cooperation is built from the ground up…” at Leeszaal Rotterdam West

Maurice Specht, Rotterdam, The Netherlands 
Illustrations: Ken Krimstein, Chicago, United States 

The nineteenth piece in our Polity of Literature series: In 2012, when the Dutch city of Rotterdam closed eighteen of its twenty-four library branches, one neighbourhood responded by making its own leeszaal (or “reading room”). They organized a pop-up version in an empty storefront—a local library, more or less—made entirely from donations and volunteer labour. Eight years later, Leeszaal Rotterdam...

“You are on the enemy list of The Black Tarantula.”

Jason McBride, Toronto, Canada 
Illustrations: Ken Krimstein, Chicago, United States 

The eighteenth piece in our Polity of Literature series: In the 1970s and ’80s, American writer Kathy Acker discovered that the surest way to develop her most innovative work and secure its eventual fame was by using the widely available parts of a parallel economy in the arts—a range of tools that included Xeroxed and stapled self-publishing, pseudonymous work mailed...

One arm holding a Czech flag, and another arm holding a net that's about to catch a fish jumping through the air.

Building the Parallel Polis

Anne Focke, Seattle, United States 
Illustrations: Ken Krimstein, Chicago, United States 

The seventeenth piece in our Polity of Literature series: For victims of state repression, the invitation into politics can be a death sentence. How can marginalized or oppressed groups bring change to systems that are predicated on their destruction? At every scale—from the neighbourhood to the city to the nation—the targets of systemic attack must choose how and with whom...

Reflections on Existential Preliminaries to a Resistant Polity in Literature and Beyond

Fred Dewey, Los Angeles, United States 
Illustrations: Ken Krimstein, Chicago, United States 

The sixteenth piece in our Polity of Literature series: “The Portable Polis” was a group of strangers convened by writer Fred Dewey to read Hannah Arendt’s The Human Condition out loud to one another over the course of a summer in Berlin. Meeting at locations around the city (chosen by Dewey for their relevance to Arendt’s insights into politics and statelessness),...

The Body Speaks: “Wonderland”

Erkan Ă–zgen, Diyarbakır, Turkey 
Illustrations: Ken Krimstein, Chicago, United States 

The fifteenth piece in our Polity of Literature series: While bringing clothes and other supplies to refugees in 2016, Turkish video artist Erkan Özgen met a deaf, mute Syrian boy, Muhammed, who told him the story of his experience in the Syrian war. Ă–zgen asked the boy’s family for permission to videotape Muhammed, and the result is a four-minute video called...