This week, two stories from the borderlands of the U.S. First, the story of poet Javier Zamora. When he was nine, he crossed the Sonoran Desert into the U.S. to reunite with his family, who had left home before him in order to escape the political violence in El Salvador. Years later, Zamora found a way to process this childhood trauma by writing furious, luminous poetry. In this interview, he describes indelible images from his border-crossing—guns, dogs, crawling through tunnels, conflicted border guards, and craving water—and how revisiting the experience through writing has brought him to a new understanding of what it meant.
At a time when the relationship between the U.S. and Canada has become unusually tense, we speak with Porter Fox, the author of Northland, who spent three years exploring the 4,000-mile border between Maine and Washington. His writing illuminates a stretch of land unknown to most Americans, and engages with its history and beauty but ends up encountering a very contemporary narrative of an increasingly policed border and Native American protests in Standing Rock and elsewhere.
Phonographer Ernst Karel explores physical space through sound. Using two microphones, each pointed at a different country, Karel created an uncanny soundscape of a triangular section of the border between Switzerland, France, and Germany, and how each uses the border region to different economic ends.
Lastly, as part of our ongoing series, Vi Vered sends a new dispatch from the iTunes Library of Babel.
You can read more from our interview with Javier Zamora at mcsweeneys.net.