The Walrus takes us to Granada, Russia, Tijuana, and Afghanistan

What I’ve been reading in June’s The Walrus:

Stephen Henighan investigates Nicaragua’s tumultuous past and globalization’s current role in the country at the annual Granada Poetry Festival. “I was riveted during my visit to last year’s festival,” he says, “by the sight of working-class single mothers, nuns and priests, middle-aged men in T-shirts and baseball caps, and avid schoolchildren hanging on every poetic line. … No country in Latin America loves its poets like Nicaragua.”

In “A Russian Tragedy,” Alex Shoumatoff has written a beautiful travel essay visiting several villages south of Moscow, an area few non-Russians would ever think to visit. Among the glitzy dacha communities of the oil-drenched new Russian wealthy, he finds villages with hardly any population left. The Russian village, as he rightly points out, is the hearth of the Russian soul. What happens when it begins to die? The reiteration of the historical communism of the villages reminds me once again that “communism” as we know it wasn’t just inflicted on the Russian people — the seed of faith in the idea can be found in these emptying communities.

Shoumatoff’s excellent piece far overshadows my own humble contribution in the Field Notes (travel) section, taking the midnight train to Moscow. In the same section Ali Symons tries to fenagle her way into Google’s fiercely protected server farm, and Adnan Khan follows the path of contraband rubies in the Afghan jewelry trade (excellent bonus photos are exclusively online).

And Layne Coleman makes an emotionally raw journey from Toronto to a Tijuana cancer clinic in a desperate effort to find hope for his wife. On the way he travels not only through filthy airports, but through drugs, memory, and a mid-life crisis.

As always, you can find a copy of The Walrus, or sign up for a ten-day online trial subscription to read these articles in full.

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