“Firsthand Accounts” is a photo series that portrays stories of ordinary people from all walks of life. This project offers a voice to the voiceless — unique individuals seeking to share lessons from their life experiences. In turn, these lessons, or “accounts” will serve as “firsthand” evidence to bridge a connection with a wider audience. All personal anecdotes documented in this series were organically collected through chance encounters in downtown Austin, Texas.
The story, “A Merry Trencherman,” aims to explore a widely held idea about overweight people, which is that they are jolly and carefree, and they know how to enjoy life. Toward the end of the short story, the narrator learns that his obese friend is far from merry, far from happy, even far from contented with his lot. The narrator discovers his friend is deeply dissatisfied with his life because of his condition. It should be obvious to people that obesity cannot march hand in hand with true happiness, yet the stereotype of the merry trencherman endures among many.
How are we increasingly impacted by our own echo chambers in the modern world? Your cozy swamp. Your own world, where everything is according to your rules. Only your principles, values, and interests. Only you are always right, and you are the measure of vice and virtue. Information that isn’t annoying. Events that don’t throw you off balance. Peace of mind and no worries. And the less the wind of change penetrates from outside, the calmer the water in this swamp, the stranger its inhabitants….
Fairy tales have always been about the human condition. What we fear, what we hold onto, what we repress. And the house, as with the cottage where “The Tea Vendor” is set, is always an allegory for the body and the soul — in this case, lonely, snowbound, with a grave beside the porch and a wealth of secrets just out of sight.
In the sea of faceless humans, we ache to have our identity confirmed through connecting with others who are kindred spirits. On a remote ranch in 1960s Montana, a boy’s lonesome quest to find others who aspire to a literary life turns up a questionable kindred spirit.
How are gendered patterns of behavior ingrained within human beings? Do certain societies seem to praise and prioritize a particular gender above the other(s)? How does viewing the world through a gendered lens determine our values? According to this visual artist, if the human race has hope for rectifying its wrongs, it must prioritize its lost feminine side.
“This is an excerpt from my writings during a particularly tough time in my life. It was a period that made me realize the thin line between sanity and insanity. Each small decision during this time decided the kind of person I have become today.” — Ayushi Jain
How are science, art, and philosophy more alike than different? Where is truth best realized? Amalgamating science, eastern philosophy, poesy, music, and mathematics, the following poem is an attempt to grace the undeniably multifaceted beauty of truth, human psyche, and reality.
“Being a new parent is nice, but not always. Sure, the days are filled with tiny laughs and lots of firsts, but sometimes they’re filled with cries, and sometimes you miss the firsts because you’re off crying in your car. Nothing is always nice, but nothing is awful all the time, either. I hope these poems convey in a real, human way how it is to have an infant.” — Rich Glinnen
The question “Does censorship destroy freedom?” is, of course, impossible to answer yes or no. Certainly censorship can be a tool of tyranny and oppression, as we are seeing in Myanmar and Hong Kong today. But in a society which strives to be “free,” if the censor respects his or her jurisdiction and acts as an instrument reflecting current standards and (perceived) values, then a particular act of censorship can be appropriate and harmless, at least in the long run. The wealthy and powerful tend to enjoy “more free speech” because they have the means to reach a wider audience with a bigger splash, of course.
Academics have written about the “tyranny of iambic pentameter” in English-language poetics, lasting till late in the 19th century. The expression is figurative, though, as there was no actual “tyranny”: only a centuries-old tradition of taste, a vogue, a zeitgeist. Gerard Manley Hopkins (b. 1844) is frequently credited with breaking through and “freeing” the metric line with his technique of “sprung rhythms.” But Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman were writing outside of that tradition as early as the 1830s.
Today, many literary journals refuse to publish, and professors regularly tell their students not to write, rhymed or metric poetry. These practices, too, reflect a current zeitgeist. Still, I have noticed that when editors or poetry professors say “free verse,” they really mean “unrhymed, unmetric, and non-formal.” Verse that is not free to rhyme is not really free verse at all.