Today, I explain, they are to be investigative reporters; their assignment is to find how girls and women appear in this museum.
For my last semester in college, in an effort to be practical, I signed up for a graduate humanities course called “How to Live.” On the first day, the professor discussed the syllabus at length, then asked us to introduce ourselves. The air had drained from the room, and as I waited for my turn I could already tell there was a problem.
Who really gets to imagine? Not just to make things up, but to use imagination to navigate the world? As educational tools, illustrated books that give credence not only to children’s waking, real-world experiences, but also to the transformative power of their play, seem most often earmarked for privileged children, just as, for adults, the writing of fiction rooted in pure invention or methodical research, rather than autobiographical experience, is received most seamlessly when it’s done by white authors.
A month ago, the world lost Tomas Tranströmer, the Nobel Laureate who also had a career as a psychologist working with youth and drug addicts. A number of his poems seem to arise from this work, from his concern for those living on the outskirts of society. By and large, these are not poems explicitly about people on the fringes, but rather poems that trouble the very idea of a civilization possessing outskirts. Why are some people forced to the edge and some comfortable in the center? Who draws the lines, and where? And, centrally for Tranströmer: what is possible in the middle spaces?