Short, gorgeous reads that expand upon this year’s theme. New pieces posted every Friday. Join the conversation at #apossiblepractice.

“I see every story, every word as a struggle of memory against forgetting. As a struggle of nuance in the flat face of fascism.”
—from “Why Writing Matters in the Age of Despair” by Lyz Lenz from The Rumpus

“. . . art endures past governments, countries, and emperors, and their would-be replacements. [ . . . ] art—​even, or perhaps especially, art that is dedicated somehow to tenderness—is not weak. It is strength.”
—from “On Becoming an American Writer” by Alexander Chee from The Paris Review

“For me, I always think about writing the things that should exist but don’t yet—things that would save my life, things that would have transformed me if I’d read them growing up–that’s when I kinda know I should go for it.”
— from “How our bodies domesticate/disaster: An Interview with Kristin Chang, Past Lives, Future Bodies” by Leona Chen from Taiwanese American

“I’m afraid, ‘What if none of this matters?’ Maybe this is the working-class roots of my family, where I feel like—I sit two days in a hotel, I get 10,000 words—what if it doesn’t matter? What if I could be doing something better with my hands for my community, my people? Maybe, in a queer body, that’s always a question: ‘How can we be of service to one another?’ At least for myself. That’s how I think of art, is how we are service to one another.”
—from “Ocean Vuong on being generous with your work”, a conversation with Amy Rose Spiegel, from The Creative Independent

“& “because I love you, I will gut this distance / with nostalgia, because grief can taste of sugar if you run / your tongue along the right edge”
—from “Still, Somehow” by Hieu Minh Nguyen from The Margins

“No moon in sight, so I howled at the exit sign instead. Red runes, electric. Telling an old story of escape, of wind, a wide cold. A distant car alarm. Otherwise: the dark, and our bodies, two strange women trying to touch each other. Breathing strange. Moving toward or away from each other as the red ghost in the sky opened, called us gone, showed us the door to another world. Otherwise, the dark, and our mouths, tearing at what bones we could find. Grinning and hungry for something — something we couldn’t, with all our words, name.”
—from “Perihelion: A History of Touch” by Franny Choi from Poetry

“That’s how art functions. There are lacunae in every art work, gaps that we fill or don’t fill, and it’s not by understanding everything perfectly that we are enriched—not in art, not in life.”
—from “There Is No Single Voice of America” by Elaine Castillo from Literary Hub

“There have been moments in our shared human history in particular parts of the world where poets and also singers have been banned. But why? What is there to fear? Precisely this: the force of the quicksilver self that poetry sets free—desire that can never be bound by laws and legislations. This is the force of the human, the spirit level of our lives.”
—from “What Use Is Poetry?” by Meena Alexander from World Literature Today

“I can use my mind not to punish myself, but to invite a special brand of silence to make room for celebration.”
—from “I Made Peace With My Body on a Sweaty Dance Floor” by Kimberly Drew from Vice—from “I Made Peace With My Body on a Sweaty Dance Floor” by Kimberly Drew from Vice

“I had to contend with the expectations placed on my writing because of my name and because of the first sentence in my bio: José Olivarez is the son of Mexican immigrants. In college, I remember being frustrated because no matter what I wrote [ . . . ]. It didn’t take me long to figure out that my classmates were not reading my work; they were reading me.”
—from “José Olivarez: How I Wrote ‘A Mexican Dreams of Heaven'” by José Olivarez from The Adroit Journal

→ AND! Listen to José Olivarez read this poem on the VS Poetry Podcast here. Starts at 29:40. ←

“But the foolish hope is that perhaps if we truly take a step back, and look at ourselves, stripped of noise or performance or misgivings, we can hold each other in the light. That somehow, we can recognize each other as whole human beings, whose flaws and sorrows are valid, and dream up a better future together.”
—from “Giving Up the Gaze: A Conversation with Sally Wen Mao” by Jenny Xie from The Margins

“Rejections are a bit like scars, and they tell stories of creative growth in their own way.”
from “What Collecting 100 Rejections Taught Me about Creative Failure” by Kim Liao from Literary Hub

“For I do not know all the faces / of my family, on this earth. / Perhaps it will take a lifetime / (or five) to discover every / sister, brother.”
—from “Spell to Find Family” by Chen Chen from Lambda Literary

“All the world is moving, even sand from one shore to another / is being shuttled. I live my life half afraid, and half shouting / at the trains when they thunder by. This letter to you is both.”
—from “Envelopes of Air” by Ada Limón and Natalie Diaz from The New Yorker

“. . . let’s just be ourselves, let’s be loud and messy and talk shit about people in Cantonese while on line at the grocery store. [ . . . ] Let’s bring our own snacks to the movies. [ . . . ] We did that and more and yet we believed it was okay to turn on the ones who had less, buying into the idea that there was only room for some of us. Like we weren’t the same, our survival dependent on one another, our spiked and complicated love.”
—from “Who In America Is Allowed To Be Ordinary?” by Lisa Ko from Buzzfeed

“There is a time for everything. Look,”
—from “Sorrow Is Not My Name” by Ross Gay from Poetry Foundation

“Don’t tell me that the experiences of a vast majority of our planet’s human population are marginal, are not relevant, are not political. Don’t tell me that you think there’s not enough room for another story about sexual abuse, motherhood, or racism. The only way to make room is to drag all our stories into that room. That’s how it gets bigger.”
—from “The Heart-Work: Writing About Trauma as a Subversive Act” by Melissa Febos from Poets & Writers

“I cannot walk through all realms— / I carry a yearning I cannot bear alone in the dark— // What shall I do with all this heartache?” 
from “Speaking Tree” by Joy Harjo from The Slowdown with Tracy K. Smith

“Forgive me, for I have been nurturing my well-worn / grudges against beauty.”
—from “How Can Black People Write about Flowers at a Time Like This” by Hanif Abdurraqib from Gulf Coast

“so let’s end this / classist pretend where names don’t matter / & language is too heavy a lift”
—from “etymology” by Airea D. Mattews from

“I Don’t Know What Will Kill Us First: The Race War or What We’ve Done to the Earth // so I count my hopes: the bumblebees / are making a comeback, one snug tight / in a purple flower I passed to get to you”
—from “I Don’t Know What Will Kill Us First: The Race War or What We’ve Done to the Earth” by Fatimah Asghar from

“As a poet, I struggle constantly with these questions: What can poetry do in the face of so much violence and fear? What can a poem do? What do I want my poems to do? I don’t have an answer for these questions, and maybe I never will. I never imagined, though, that a book of poems would inspire me to cook.”
—from “‘And Yet, We Meet There’: On Resistance, Memory and Transformation in Sarah Gambito’s Loves You” by Rachel Ronquillo Gray from Hyphen


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