Anna Clark

Anna Clark is a writer and journalist living in Detroit. She maintains the literary and social justice website, Isak.

Recent Articles

A Muted Effort to Reduce Prison Rape

Attorney General Eric Holder's weakened plan to stop rape in prison disappoints advocates.

Attorney General Eric Holder (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)
Our country's shoulder-shrugging acceptance of rape in prisons has made it to the U.S. Department of Justice. Last week, the public comment period on new federal standards to eliminate sexual assault in prisons closed. The standards, released by the Justice Department in February, fall far short of the tools needed to confront the pervasive problem. The standards were adapted from those recommended by the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission, but the Justice Department is set to implement a diluted version. Specifically, Attorney General Eric Holder's counterproposal to the commission's recommendations doesn't cover immigration facilities and puts tight restrictions on inmates who report rape. Most strikingly, it eliminates the requirement that prisons actually enforce the standards; they're only required to have a plan to eliminate rape. And if they don't implement their plan? They will only be required to initiate another plan. It's worth noting that this debate is unfolding...

The Golden Girl Image

Robin Black says making older women complicated heroines in fiction is a political act that can help bring about social change.

Rarely are older women centered as protagonists in American fiction, a fact that mirrors their marginalized role in society. In If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This , her new collection of stories, author Robin Black pushes back against this trend. Black's bright and nuanced tales make protagonists of those who, in life as well as in art, are more often caricatures. We meet a 70-year-old artist who grieves the end of a romance while painting a dying man's portrait, a woman in her mid-60s who makes an unexpected connection with a stranger in Italy, and another older woman who lies about her recent stroke while coming to terms with her daughter's marital infidelity. Black talked with TAP about feminism, the political implications of narratives in which older women play central roles, whether social change can be instigated by art, and what it means to her to be a widely heralded debut author in her 40s. If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This is unusual in that it features so many...

Read Local

Small book publishers are looking to communities of loyal readers to support them.

(Flickr/I Love Memphis)
"When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes." So said Desiderius Erasmus, a Dutch priest born less than 20 years after the printing press was invented. This holiday season, publishers might like to see his ilk in bookshops. Traditionally, the book industry depends upon the December gift-giving season to buoy its entire year. Many publishers shape their catalog around the six-week window of intensified shopping that carries particular urgency in the depths of a recession. But this "make or break" bookselling strategy is one holiday tradition that a handful of innovative publishers are eager to end. In search of sustainability, some publishers and booksellers are adapting ideas from the food movement. Community-supported agriculture (CSA) -- in which consumers buy a share of a farm's produce yield for the season -- translates to community-supported publishing (CSP), in which readers subscribe to an independent press that in return delivers books to...

Where Physics, Poetry, and Politics Collide

TAP talks to poet A. Van Jordan about institutional racism, the Jena 6, and the language of poetry.

A. Van Jordan is the author of Rise and M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A , the last of which imagined the life of MacNolia Cox, the first black finalist in the National Spelling Bee. In that highly praised volume, Jordan played with the written forms of film, jazz and blues to tell the story of how Cox's life was shaped by racism and poverty in 1936 Ohio. That same fearless hybridization comes into Jordan's newest poetry collection, Quantum Lyrics . Rather than follow one character's story, this book explores cultural identity by moving among historical, fictional, and autobiographical figures. The likes of Albert Einstein and Richard Feynmen rub shoulders with comic book superheroes, which in turn are juxtaposed with narrators that tell tales resembling the author's own life. Jordan revisits the pain of racism, recounting Einstein's letter to Harry Truman in support of the Anti-Lynching Law because "trees need only to drop leaves to prove gravity." He also discusses his own experiences with racism,...

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