All right. 2022 has been cute—in a We-Lumbered-Through-Yet-Another-Plague-Year kind of way—but now it’s giving shabby and dogged. That’s right. Time to sashay away and to do so with some grace and dignity. But before then, we need to give it up for our authors and staff who blessed Beacon Broadside with their words and insight.
A Q&A with Alexandra Lytton Regalado | For a long time, it was either the camera or the pen. If I managed to express myself visually, there was no need to describe it in writing. But now, I use both processes to dig deeper, although I haven’t been able to combine the two just yet; each medium still stands on its own. I carry around my obsessions, my questions, and when something nips at my attention, I spend a lot of time trying to unravel what it is about that image that has me hooked.
By Meghan Privitello and Abbey Clements | When a child hears gunshots, she will say Mom is beating the pots and pans. She will say It sounds like home. Let’s keep it this way; our children misinterpreting the sound of dying as a crude percussion.
By James Baldwin | I first saw “The Exorcist,” in Hollywood, with a black friend of mine, who had his own, somewhat complex reasons for insisting that I see it: just so, one of my brothers had one day walked me into the film “The Devils,” which he had already seen, saying, cheerfully, as we walked out, “Ain’t that some shit? I just wanted you to see how sick these people are!” Both my friend and my brother had a point. I had already read “The Devils”; now, I forced myself to read “The Exorcist”—a difficult matter, since it is not written; then, I saw the film again, alone. I tried to be absolutely open to it, suspending judgment as totally as I could.
By Helene Atwan | Gayl Jones, the highly acclaimed author who was first “discovered" and mentored by Toni Morrison has twice disappeared from our sight. The first time was after a stellar launch as one of America’s most daring and distinctive literary lights, after two brilliant novels (“Corregidora” and “Eva’s Man”) brought out by Morrison at Random House, and one slim but oh-so-astonishing story collection (“White Rat”), when she went into a self-imposed exile in France, from the late 1970s until the late 1990s. She and her husband had rejected the racism that surrounded them, and Gayl had made the decision to leave her job in academia and her very promising career as a writer, as well as her friends and supporters in the literary community, and live in Europe.
A Q&A with Aaron Caycedo-Kimura | My manuscript was originally named “What’s Kept Alive,” after one of the poems in the second section. This poem compares the keeping of a Japanese maple shrub alive to keeping my family’s history alive. The title captured the overall essence of the manuscript but lacked a certain punch. My amazing editor, Catherine Tung, suggested “Common Grace”—the title of one of the poems in the third section.
By Bev Rivero | To everyone’s delight, beloved ABC comedy, “Abbott Elementary,” has returned for its second season! The award-winning show has earned fans across every demographic and pulls off being sweet while still being grounded in the reality faced by staff and parents navigating the public school system.
Talk about an affront to human life. In a bait-and-switch tactic to push the Right’s anti-immigrant message, FL Governor Ron DeSantis paid to send 50 migrants like cattle on an airplane from San Antonio, TX, to Martha’s Vineyard, MA. The migrants were told they’d land in Boston, where they could get expedited work papers. On top of that, hundreds of thousands of people across Puerto Rico are waiting for water and power to be restored after Hurricane Fiona knocked out power lines and collapsed infrastructure with massive flooding. A rough way for Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month to start.
A Q&A with Remica Bingham-Risher | I actually never contemplated writing a book of nonfiction. When I started interviewing Black poets I admired, I did imagine that one day, I’d compile all those interviews. But those would be testaments to the things they were doing in the craft; it wouldn’t have much to do with me. So, it’s interesting that, over time, all the things they taught me kind of melded into this hybrid text, but I couldn’t have imagined it for myself. I’m very grateful.
By Ricky Tucker | On July 29, 2022, our lordt and save-her, Beyoncé, released “Renaissance,” her long-awaited seventh studio album that, coming off its lead single, “Break My Soul,” promised to be redemptive to all of us who, in the past few years, have felt cast aside, if not full-on antagonized, by the powers that be, including that relentless microscopic militia known as COVID. That jerk . . . Anyhow, Beyoncé delivered. Us.
Nobody wanted long COVID on our collective pandemic Bingo card, but there it is. In her “The Daily Show” interview, OG disability rights badass Judy Heumann told Trevor Noah that the likelihood of his acquiring a disability, temporary or permanent, was statistically high. He took her statement as a threat in jest, but there’s truth in that for us.
It’s raining men, and not the ones The Weather Girls sang about. They’re raining on Pride parades with violent intent. A U-Haul truckful of members from the white supremacist group, Patriot Front, was arrested before they could disrupt a Pride event in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Proud Boys stormed a Drag Queen story hour at a library in San Lorenzo, CA. Baptist ministers in Idaho and Texas went viral for calling on the government to execute gay people. Cancel all the hallelujahs for them.
By Brittany Wallace | I remember when I first heard about “Breaking Bread.” Contrary to what movies would have you think, the publishing process takes at least a year, sometimes two or three. When I started at Beacon in September 2021, we were already abuzz about our summer 2022 list—publishing speak for “forthcoming books.” Our director and the book’s in-house editor, Helene Atwan, brought “Breaking Bread” up in an all-staff meeting. She talked about how two years-long friends, Debra Spark and Deborah Joy Corey, gathered up to seventy essays from renowned and beloved food writers for the collection.
Our gun violence nightmare strikes again. We’re mourning the nineteen students and two teachers who died yesterday in the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Sixteen others were wounded. To honor their memory, we’re sharing these poems from “Bullets into Bells,” a powerful call to end American gun violence from celebrated poets and those most impacted.
It’s flying graduation caps season! We’re not post-pandemic, but graduates are embarking on a world stage that looks different from what it was two or three years ago. Some of those differences are alarming.
Still kicking two years in, COVID brought out the worst from the nation’s populace: racist brutality against marginalized communities. This year’s Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month commemorates the victims of the 2021 spa shootings as well as all other Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders lost to anti-Asian violence during the pandemic and throughout history. This violence is a form of erasure. As historian Catherine Ceniza Choy writes in her forthcoming addition to Beacon Press’s ReVisioning History series, “This positioning of Asians in opposition to American identity and experience is perhaps most powerfully expressed through the erasure of their long-standing presence in the United States and their contributions to its various industries.”
A Q&A with Raquel Salas Rivera | Not all my work is meant to be translated, but when I do self-translate, the flipbook is perfect for a bilingual edition. It doesn’t give priority to either language, and that feels truer to both my process and my readership. In many ways, my readers in Spanish and those who read me in English don’t always overlap but they do correspond, to borrow a term from Jack Spicer.
By Christian Coleman | He is hailed as a literary giant whose prolific writing career has made him a New York Times best-selling author. His novels include “The Master,” “The Magician,” “Nora Webster,” and “Brooklyn.” “Brooklyn” was, in fact, adapted as a feature film nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture, so he has movie-vetted cred, too. Now we get to see Colm Tóibín flex as a poet in his debut collection, “Vinegar Hill.”
By Bev Rivero | In the early evening on the first Thursday in March, an excited crowd of invitees gathered at the Museum of the Moving Image to celebrate the first three titles honored by the new Science + Literature program from the National Book Foundation. In addition to the excitement of chatting in person with book folks, the event was a great start to Women’s History Month, as all three books are authored by women.
By Thomas Hitoshi Pruiksma | Twenty-two years ago, when I first lived in Madurai in the state of Tamil Nadu, I went to visit the home of a student at the college where I was teaching. Meenakshi Sundram lived on a narrow lane not far from the Meenakshi Temple in this venerable and beautiful South Indian city. His home was only a few rooms, but they filled with family, friends, and neighbors, all eager to greet the teacher from abroad who could somehow speak a little Tamil.