New Republic Editor and Writer Picks: Best Books of 2012
December 26, 2012

The Song of Achilles: A Novel  by Madeline Miller I loved The Song of Achilles, Madeline Miller’s brisk, graceful reimagining of the Iliad. The narrator is Achilles's companion Patroclus, a minor character in Homer’s original who makes for a surprisingly appealing protagonist. Miller’s book is a feat of storytelling: her take on the love affair between Achilles and Patroclus gives the epic tale of the Trojan War new emotional specificity.

Shamans and Samsung: South Korea's Rise
December 19, 2012

Though South Korea has enormous strategic importance, it's neighbors get nearly all the coverage.

The Mystery Behind Frank O’Hara’s Most Famous Poem
December 10, 2012

IN SEPTEMBER 1966, a reading took place at New York University’s Loeb Center, near Washington Square. Less than two months had passed since Frank O’Hara’s death on Fire Island, and the event took on the flavor of a memorial for the recently departed poet. In his memoir, the poet’s longtime roommate Joe LeSueur recalled listening in shock as Kenneth Koch read a remarkable poem of O’Hara’s, which, until that moment, it seemed no one had ever heard. “We were not only moved by the poem,” LeSueur wrote, “but mystified as well.

Purple Darkness: Poetry from the Taliban
November 13, 2012

Poetry of the Taliban may be one of the most revealing sources of how Afghans actually feel.

When a Couplet Caught Fire—The Poetry of Adrienne Rich
November 09, 2012

What Rich drew out of the shadows, and put into practice, was that deeply democratic, beautifully mixed alloy practiced by Whitman.

An American
October 05, 2012

Every Diwali, I explain to my friends at school why I am so tired—garba it’s like dancing—pujas? I guess like praying—  I explain in fragments because even we don’t know why we wash statues with milk, why worshipping God takes so many coats. I don’t ask,  just sit beside my mother when she sings. My sister and I watch our father struggle to cross his legs; his laughter resting on his lifted knees.  He closes his eyes, pretending to pray. We believe my mother made this temple herself, found pictures and tiny murtis, gold coins with Shiva, rice and turmeric  stored in tiny steel jars.

The Jalula Market
October 05, 2012

On long foot patrols we wanted the chickens, roasted and bronzed, hanging from the steel roofs of vendor stands, the Iraqi sun burning like a heat lamp. We had seen months  of Cobra cooking: teriyaki chicken the color of transmission fluid; mixed vegetables that broke like Styrofoam in the mouth; the mush of grits always cold.

October 05, 2012

You get used to it, she said, meaning the delicate mechanism of the diamond drop passed on from her mother. She was fastening the clasp around my neck, meaning preparing me for the fumbling that inheritance presents, meaning death. You get used to it, she said, meaning being inserted into the dark and learning to call it something else—the way of all flesh, for instance.

Our Playhouse
August 24, 2012

We played in the shadow Of murderers’ at work, Kneading soldiers out of mud, Stepping on them When we were done playing.  Girls walking the streets Gave us bread to eat. An old dog with a limp Kept us warm at night As we huddled in doorways.  My friends, my playmates, We never saw the dead, Only the birds scatter After we heard the gunshots And ducked our heads.  This poem appeared in the September 13, 2012 issue of the magazine.  

Night Music
August 24, 2012

Little brook, running past my house, I like the tune you hum to yourself When night comes, And only the two of us are awake. You keep me company So I don't fear The darkness round my bed And the thoughts in my head Flying crookedly like bats Between the old church and the graveyard. This poem appeared in the September 13, 2012 issue of the magazine.