216 Chapters
Medium 9780253000958

Buffalo Eddy

Scott Russell Sanders Indiana University Press ePub

From pristine headwaters in Yellowstone National Park, the Snake River flows through western Wyoming, across Idaho, and into Washington before joining the Columbia River near the Hanford Nuclear Site, a destination as toxic as any on Earth. Hanford, repository for two-thirds of our nation’s high-level radioactive waste, has leaked its lethal brew into air and water and soil since reactors there began making fuel for bombs during World War II. Despite its pure beginnings, by the time it reaches the Columbia, the Snake bears its own load of pollution, mainly runoff from irrigated croplands, feedlots, and fish farms. Such a fall from innocence to corruption is a common fate for American rivers, but few have fallen as dramatically as the Snake.

Over its thousand-mile course, the Snake cuts through mountain ranges, surges across sagebrush plains, and roars through canyons—or at least it did cut and surge and roar, until a series of fifteen dams built during the past century reduced the river to a string of lakes. The dams have been profitable for ranchers, farmers, barge companies, and electric utilities, but they have proven disastrous for salmon. Huge numbers of returning coho, chinook, and sockeye perish at each dam, chiefly from the strain of climbing fish ladders. Of those that survive the climb, many die from the higher temperatures and increased predation in the reservoirs, and others lose their way in the slack water, where the current is too weak to offer direction, and where silt blocks the light and pollution muffles the smells they need to guide them to their spawning grounds.

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Medium 9780253019028

From That Stranded Place

IU Press Journals Indiana University Press ePub

Taiye Selasi with Aaron Bady. Photo by Mike McGraw at The Daily Texan. ©2014

a conversation with Taiye Selasi

TAIYE SELASIS REPUTATION precedes her. Before she published her first novel in 2013, the celebrated Ghana Must Go, she was already well-known as the author of “Bye Bye Babar,” a very small essay that asked a big question, “What is an Afropolitan?” The answer, she wrote, was a young and beautiful generation of international Africans like her. “We are Afropolitans,” she wrote, “not citizens but Africans of the world.” In the decade since then, the term has become strangely polarizing, almost notorious. On the one hand, it’s been taken up as banner for Brand Africa in the twenty-first century; there’s a magazine called Afropolitan and you can buy “handmade and designer accessories such as jewelry, bags and shoes” from The Afropolitan Shop. But as the term has been commodified (quite literally), there has been a backlash, not only against Taiye Selasi and the idea of the Afropolitan, but against the bourgeois aesthetic that many have taken them to represent, a twenty-first-century black Atlantic that many have taken to be at odds with more explicitly politicized versions of African diasporic culture. Binyavanga Wainaina, for example, made waves at the 2013 UK African Studies Association by declaring, in his keynote address, that “I am a Pan-Africanist, not an Afropolitan.”

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Medium 9780253018571

The Silences of Bob Kaufman: A Cento

IU Press Journals Indiana University Press ePub

the truth is an empty bowl of rice

truth is a burning guitar

it takes so much to be nothing

long green journeys into sounds of death

you get off at Fifty-ninth Street forever

eternity has wet sidewalks

all those well-meaning people

who gave me obscure books

when what I really needed

was a good meal

ordinary people, that is, people whose annihilation

is handled on a corporate scale

they have memorized the pimples

on your soul

whether I am a poet or not, I use

fifty dollars’ worth of air

every day, cool

dear people, let us eat Jazz

so we sat down on our bloodsoaked

garments and listened to Jazz

one thousand saxophones infiltrate the city

my face is covered with maps of dead nations

the poet nailed to the bone of the world

I love him because his eyes leak

in most cases, a sane hermit will beat

a good big man

I think of Chaplin and roll a mental cigarette

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Medium 9780253000958

Mountain Music

Scott Russell Sanders Indiana University Press ePub

On a June morning high in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, snowy peaks rose before me like the promise of a world without grief. A creek brimful of meltwater roiled along to my left, and to my right an aspen grove shimmered with freshly minted leaves. Bluebirds kept darting in and out of holes in the aspen trunks. Butterflies flickered beside every puddle, tasting the succulent mud. Sun glazed the new grass and licked a silver sheen along the boughs of pines.

With all of that to look at, I gazed instead at my son’s broad back, as he stalked away from me up the trail. Sweat had darkened his gray T-shirt in patches the color of bruises. His shoulders were stiff with anger that would weight his tongue and keep his face turned from me for hours. Anger also made him quicken his stride, gear after gear, until I could no longer keep up. I had forty-nine years on my legs and heart and lungs, while Jesse had only seventeen on his. My left foot ached from old bone breaks and my right knee creaked from recent surgery. Used to breathing among the low muggy hills of Indiana, I was gasping up here in the alpine air, a mile and a half above sea level. Jesse would not stop, would not even slow down unless I asked; and I was in no mood to ask. So I slumped against a boulder beside the trail and let him rush on ahead.

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Medium 9780253356864

23. Numbers

Robert B. Ray Indiana University Press ePub

• 2,000: population of Concord during Thoreau’s stay at the pond

• 2 years, 2 months, 2 days: length of Thoreau’s stay at Walden (before deducting a month spent at home while his cabin was being winterproofed and his two-week Maine trip)

• 1.3 miles: distance from Thoreau’s cabin to Emerson’s house

• 28–36: Thoreau’s age during Walden’s composition

• 550 yards: distance from Thoreau’s cabin to the Fitchburg railroad line

• 204 feet: distance from Thoreau’s cabin to Walden Pond

• 612 acres: size of Walden Pond

• 31: tools Thoreau used at Walden

• over 3,000: uses of first-person pronoun in Walden

• less than half a mile: distance from Thoreau’s cabin to Irish railroad laborers’ huts

• 10' x 15': size of Thoreau’s cabin

• 30: people that could fit in the cabin without removing the furniture

• almost 7 miles: total length of Thoreau’s bean rows

• over 700: references to animals in Walden

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