What We Are Reading Today: Flyover Country Poems

Flyover Country Poems
Updated 12 September 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: Flyover Country Poems

  • In these poems, midwestern barns and farmhouses are linked to other lands and times as if by psychic tunnels

Author: Austin Smith

A new collection about violence and the rural Midwest from a poet whose first book was hailed as “memorable” (Stephen Burt, Yale Review) and “impressive” (Chicago Tribune), Flyover Country is a powerful collection of poems about violence: The violence we do to the land, to animals, to refugees, to the people of distant countries, and to one another.
Drawing on memories of his childhood on a dairy farm in Illinois, Austin Smith explores the beauty and cruelty of rural life, challenging the idea that the American Midwest is mere “flyover country,” a place that deserves passing over.
At the same time, the collection suggests that America itself has become a flyover country, carrying out drone strikes and surveillance abroad, locked in a state of perpetual war that Americans seem helpless to stop. In these poems, midwestern barns and farmhouses are linked to other lands and times as if by psychic tunnels.
A poem about a barn cat moving her kittens in the night because they have been discovered by a group of boys resonates with a poem about the house in Amsterdam where Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazis.
A poem beginning with a boy on a farmhouse porch idly swatting flies ends with the image of people fleeing before a drone strike. A poem about a barbwire fence suggests, if only metaphorically, the debate over immigration and borders.


What’s in a street name? A Cairo guidebook explains

Updated 26 September 2018
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What’s in a street name? A Cairo guidebook explains

  • More remarkably, signs bearing different names sometimes appear on the same street

BEIRUT: Cairo, sometimes called the City of a Thousand Minarets or Mother of the World, has grown into a megalopolis unlike any other. A visit to Cairo is a trip through the ages — from the immutable pyramids to the humongous medieval open mall in Khan Al-Khalili and right up to the 19th century under the rule of Ismail Pasha, the khedive of Egypt and Sudan. He stressed the importance of urban planning and transformed Downtown Cairo into a bastion of fashion and elegance known as “Paris on the Nile.”
This “Field Guide to the Street Names of Central Cairo,” by Humphrey Davies and Lesley Lababidi, may seem like a typical guidebook, yet it is anything but ordinary. The authors’ singular passion for Cairo provided them with the inspiration and resilience to uncover the truth behind the frequent renaming of the city streets and the plethora or absence of street signs.
“Street signs are missing, or damaged, or concealed behind storefronts. More remarkably, signs bearing different names sometimes appear on the same street. This may be due partly to the fact that signs can be ordered by private citizens from specialized hardware stores,” write Humphrey and Lababidi.
Tourists will, without a doubt, find this handbook terribly useful as they roam through Central Cairo across the picturesque Zamalek, Garden City or Munira. However, this guide has been written especially for the true, unconditional lovers of Cairo.
Not everyone loves this city, and not anyone can love this city. To love Cairo is to see the unseen. To love Cairo is to grasp that intangible and elusive quality of time, where the past drifts into the present and the present lingers in the past.
In the ever-changing light of the day, between past, present and future, this multi-layered city gives you a glimpse of eternity. This precious little book rekindles memories and brings to life the forgotten streets, lanes, alleys and passageways of Central Cairo.