Shadow Writing the Global Imaginary

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Stories map the cosmos of our curiosity, of our lived experiences, and of our hopes and fears. To chart these cosmos is to be comfortable creating amid paradox, to be at ease in a world of contrast, and to not fall back on bias or pre-ordained assumptions and fore-gone conclusions. Inciting a world awareness or a global imagination is a perpetual process of othering or defamiliarizing ourselves from reductive, schismatic, and discriminatory notions about who we are, the world we live in, and our connections to one another.

The above is just a taste of the research paper yours truly is trying to finish and soon present at Great Writing: The International Creative Writing Conference, UK at Imperial College, London, where I’ll be riffing off of Junot Diaz and his “MFA vs. POC.” Writing and researching (see above pic for some of the titles I’ve been diving into) for this topic has inspired a creative writing course, which thankfully got approved to be listed as part of Saint Mary’s College of California’s January 2017 Term described on their website as: “a monthlong session held each January in which every undergraduate explores a single topic in great depth and at an accelerated pace, featuring a unique blend of opportunities on and off campus.”

If yours truly can rouse the necessary enrollment, I’ll be piloting the following course (fingers crossed!):

Craft is Culture: Shadow Writing the Global Imaginary

 

COURSE DESCRIPTION
“In my workshop we never explored our racial identities or how they impacted our writing—at all. Never got any kind of instruction in that area—at all…” author Junot Diaz states in his “MFA vs. POC” (New Yorker, 2014) thereby igniting an urgent conversation about diversity in the literary arts. For historically marginalized artists, creative writing begins and ends with perilous tension. As we read novels, short fiction, and poetry from various authors like Louise Erdrich, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Harryette Mullen, Kevin Young, Chris Abani, and Diane Glancy, we will ask how these writers subvert, make new, or de-center literary traditions. How do they make aesthetic and stylistic choices to challenge dominant narratives and to put center stage traditionally marginalized voices, neglected histories, and sub-histories? The aim of this course is to discover how craft is culture and how culture can complicate and challenge the craft of creative writing. In turn, we will also explore our own cultural and regional backgrounds to write our own creative works employing techniques from the authors we read.
Through writing, both creative and analytical, we will consider the different ways in which literary writing helps us understand identity and politics, and, conversely, how we can test notions of identity and politics to enrich and deepen our craft of creative writing. Recognizing that craft is culture and that tension drives all creative writing, this class explores reading and writing practices to incite a global cultural imagination that ultimately pinpoints intersections where truth meets art.

PREREQUISITES:
English 4

POSSIBLE READING LIST
Critical Theory:
selections from Harryette Mullen, The Cracks Between What We Are and What We Are Supposed to Be,“Imagining the Unimagined Reader: Writing to the Unborn and Including the Excluded”, “Kinky Quatrains: The Making of Muse & Drudge”, “Optic White: Blackness and the Production of Whiteness”
Selections from Kevin Young, The Gray Album: On the Blackness of Blackness, “The Shadow Book”, “How Not to Be a Slave: On the Black Art of Escape”
excerpts from Dorothy Wang, Form, Race, Subjectivity in Contemporary Asian American Poetry
Diane Glancy, In-between Places, “July: She has some potholders”
John Yau, “Please Wait By the Coatroom”

Fiction:
Chris Abani, The Virgin of Flames
Louise Erdrich, selections from Love Medicine
Dinaw Mengetsu All Our Names

Poetry:
Selections from Barbara Jane Reyes and Dr. Raina León

More to come as the work progresses…

The Shadow Craft: Riffing off of Kevin Young’s “On the Blackness of Blackness”

From Kevin Young’s The Gray Album: On the Blackness of Blackness

The Shadow Book: One

Lately I have been thinking about the idea of a shadow book–a book that we don’t have, but know of, a book that may haunt the very book we have in our very hands. I have even begun to think that there are three kinds of shadow books in the tradition, and hope to provide a brief taxonomy of them. Like to hear it, here it go—

First there are the kind of shadow books that fail to be written: the Africana Encyclopedia by Du Bois the second novels of Jean Toomer or Ralph Ellison that never appeared, at least in recognizable form…As readers eager for such shadow books, we search among the fragments of a life unlived…(11)

Started reading Kevin Young’s Gray Album (Gray Wolf Press, 2012), and all I can say is “what took me so long?!” What should be required reading for anyone who studies history, politics, art, culture, music–anyone who enjoys reading, period– has me thinking of all the shadows we writers and artists of color were born into, continue to live in not necessarily by choice, but have made these shadows our own, the shadows we desperately try to push out to the open.

The mind is spinning with shadows we seek, shadows we’ve prodded, shadows we claimed as spaces to play and produce, shadows such as:

shadow pedagogy
shadow curriculum
shadow reading lists
shadow craft
shadow theory
shadow panels
shadow colloquiums
shadow seminars
shadow readings
shadow communities
shadow networks
shadow social media
shadow transactions via IM, email, FB, tweets, etc.
the shadow canon.

In my dream shadow craft course, I would teach this shadow work-in-progress reading list:

Diane Glancy, Inbetween Places
Kevin Young, The Gray Album
Woolf, A Room of One’s Own
Edwidge Danticat, Create Dangerously
Gish Jen, Tiger Writing
Trinh T. Minha, Elsewhere Within Here
Anis Shivani, Against the Workshop
….

I would assign this shadow supplementary reading list, also a work-in-progress:

One of the shadow assignments would be to research a writer or artist and how s/he practices social action. Students would investigate: What does social action mean for that writer/artist? How does s/he define community, identity, and craft through social action? How does community, identity, and craft define social action for your chosen writer/artist?

Just some shadow dreaming as I continue the shadow craft of writing.

Barbara Jane Reyes Shouts Out on Poetry Foundation’s Harriet the Blog

Poetry Foundation’s Harriet the Blog has the honor and pleasure of hosting a regular online column with poet and professor Barbara Jane Reyes, who’s latest poets speaks truth to power, breaking silence and representation while giving a shout out to Pinay voices, including yours truly.

Do your soul a favor, and check out her words and Pinay works:

Teaching and Writing Pinay Lives and Voices

By Barbara Jane Reyes

As an author, I’ve been very uncomfortable, being expected to “represent” an entire community. Some years back, as a guest speaker in Willie Perdomo‘s VONA workshop, Building the Poetry Manuscript, I was asked by one Pinay student what that felt like, being a Pinay expected to “represent.” I told her I disliked it; though I think my work can be resonant and relevant to a Filipina American experience, it’s my own take on that wildly divergent thing. Moreover, something I’ve known since I was young, something to which my parents can attest, is that I am never the Pinay that people expect Pinays to be.

Read the entire post here.

Maraming salamat Barbara for making community!

Speaking on Love & Labor for Barbara Jane Reyes’ class “Filipina Lives and Voices in Literature” at USF

Thanks to professor and poet Barbara Jane Reyes and the sponsorship of the Yuchengco Philippine Studies Program and Asian Studies Program, I was able to guest lecture for Reyes’ Spring 2012 course “YPSP 195-01/ANST 195-02: Filipina Lives and Voices in Literature” at the University of San Francisco on Tuesday, April 3, 2012. Before my presentation, sixteen savvy students read my short personal essay “Barbie’s Gotta Work,” published in Doveglion. The essay was included in the course’s unit on “Work and Domesticity.”

Reyes recently discussed this very same class and its inception in her recent post on the Poetry Foundation’s Harriet The Blog:

One day, I’d casually asked our program chair whether he was interested in an all Filipina/Pinay (Filipino women) literature course, and he said, yes, draft a syllabus, and we’ll get it approved by the curriculum committee. It was approved. It was quickly filled. This is the first semester I am teaching the course, and I’m still in disbelief. All Pinay Literature. I always think, wow, where was this class when I was young, and when I needed it most. It seems a lot of people have been asking this question too, as I have been asked by more people than I can count, for my syllabus and reading lists. So, in this space, I will be talking a bit about some of the items from my syllabus, in the hopes that it will prompt readers further.

Read entire post here.

For my guest lecture, after giving a brief power point presentation, featuring pictures of my family, my maternal and paternal grandparents at work and at play in their youth, the students asked challenging questions about the superficiality of Barbie and how that was complicated in the essay and what it was like to be a professor of color. Another student broached the gap between generations, wondering how to relate with family members who might not share the same  educational experiences. This brought on the idea of exploring the roots that hold us together and the stories family members share no matter where their paths in life take them.

We discussed looking at life and literature through a prism of lenses, much like looking through a kaleidoscope; we can shift the angles. We also talked about family memories that shape who we are. Some of the students shared their own experiences, remembering the work of their mothers, fathers, and grandparents.

Below is a sneak peek at the writing exercise students worked on, sifting through their past and their parents’ and grandparents’ pasts to uncover half-forgotten memories concerning love and labor, two themes that I keep coming back to with my own writing.

Love & Labor Writing Exercise

  • How do your parents and/or grandparents use their body at work?
  • How did work define your parents and/or grandparents?
  • What sense of self and purpose did they find through their labor?
  • Describe one of your parents or grandparents at work: What is the setting? What are their hands doing? Explain the actions of the body and mind.
  • How are they interacting with their setting? With other people at work?

Now that we’ve woken from colonial dreams and post-colonial nightmares of imagined communities,what comes after post-colonial theory?

   Heart of Darkness.jpg

Excited and honored to be presenting at the 18th Annual Conference of ACTC: Association for Core Texts and Courses. This year’s theme is “Liberal Arts Education and the World: Inquiring into, Preparing for and Living in the Real World Through Core Texts,” taking place in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Yours truly will be presenting the paper: “We’re All Others Now: Revisiting Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness in the Age of Post-post-colonialism.”

Abstract:

In 1977, Chinua Achebe, through his essay, “An Image of Africa” tried and sentenced Joseph Conrad for being a “bloody racist,” charging that his novel, Heart of Darkness, captured Western imagination at its worst. In light of post-colonial theory, every culture and nation affected by Empire, both colonized and colonizer, was then shackled to a shared and brutal past. Post-colonial theorists like Achebe sought retribution and used discourse as a means of justice. Now that we’ve woken from colonial dreams and post-colonial nightmares of imagined communities, how do we read and critique a text like Conrad’s Heart of Darkness? And, if “multiculturalism has failed,” or if we believe it is possible to “transcend race,” what comes after post-colonial theory?

For more info on post-post-colonialism, check out the following source:

Revving up for the APASA Keynote Graduation Speech at Saint Mary’s College

Honored to be delivering the keynote speech at Saint Mary’s College of California’s for the following ceremony:

Asian Pacific American Graduate Celebration
Saturday, May 14th
2-4 p.m.
Hagerty Lounge (Please note the change in location; it was originally scheduled in LeFevre Theater.)

Here’s a taste of the speech, an excerpt from an essay written in response to a call for Fil-Am literature:

“Barbie’s Gotta Work”

Unlike my mother who grew up in an old Army barrack tacked to the dusty farmlands of the San Joaquin Valley or my father who sometimes had to sleep in the chicken coop because his family’s house off of Franklin Boulevard in Sacramento was over-crowded with six other siblings, not only did I enjoy a spacious suburban room of my own, but I also had full governship of a pink and white miniature estate. At four feet, the Barbie Townhouse towered over my seven-year old frame. First released in 1975, my three-story edition boasted a blush bedroom suite with a lace canopied bed and matching pink armoire on the top floor. The second level living room afforded Barbie and her friends a cozy space to converse and enjoy tea while lounging on white wicker furniture. On the bottom floor, Barbie hosted small dinner parties and cooked in a cramped kitchen that lacked a stove, an oven, and a sink but offered instead a mini-refrigerator. The townhouse also featured a canary-colored pull-string elevator, which ended up stalling dramatic storylines. Between unspooling the pulley and positioning Barbie just right so her limbs wouldn’t catch as she was towed between floors, she eventually bypassed the elevator, so she could continue her arguments or flirtations uninterrupted.

***

Inspiration for this particular essay was partly borne out of that plastic pink dream we call Barbie. Before I fell hopelessly in love with Louise Erdrich’s tales or stumbled trying to follow the footsteps of Woolf, I wove stories and created characters using the most pink and most traditional of mainstream narrative tools.

Image from Celebrity Baby Blog

The Barbie Townhouse circa 1970’s release was my cardboard and plastic play-stage where I could re-enact and revise plot-lines from One Life To Live and All My Children with an ethnic twist. Instead of Barbie as the lead her friend, Island Fun Miko, was lady of the house and the center of all my Barbie narratives.

Image from Jemboy’s World

“Tropical Island Fun with Barbie and Miko” January 26, 2009

The Barbie Travel Agent Set was a surprise gift from Santa who, ironically, had designs to usher and initiate me into Third Wave Feminism:

Image from The Henry Ford Museum, “Happy 50th Birthday, Barbie!” March 2009

“Into the Woods”: a faculty retreat reading list

Jenifer K. Wofford’s “MacArthur’s Nurses” (2008)

Your Salonniere has organized the reading list for this summer’s Collegiate Seminar Faculty Retreat for Saint Mary’s College of California. The theme of this retreat, “Into the Woods,” focuses on perception and consciousness of the Unknown, the Other, and the Wild. Inspired by the advocacy work of poet and professor Barbara Jane Reyes, who also introduced me to Jenifer K. Wofford’s art, these selections, juxtaposed together, will hopefully reveal surprising similarities among artists who might otherwise seem disparate. I’m looking forward to seeing how the faculty respond to the works individually and as a collective.

Schedule for the Neville and Juanita Massa Institute

at Huntington Lake, Summer 2010

July 29- August 1

“Into the Woods”

Thursday, July 29

8:00 – 10:00pm, Session I:  Percy Bysshe Shelley, “Mont Blanc” (poem), 1817.

Friday, July 30

10:00 am – noon, Session II:  Trinh T. Minh-ha, “The Language of Nativism” (46-64) (essay excerpt), from Women Native Other, 1989 [facilitator TBD].

7:30 – 9:30pm, Session III:  E.M. Forster, “Introduction” and “Other Kingdom” (short story) from The Celestial Omnibus and Other Stories, 1947 [facilitator TBD].

Saturday, July 31

10:00am – noon, Session IV:  Carlos Bulosan, “The Growth of Philippine Culture” (115-123), “My Education” (124-130), “Freedom from Want” (131-134) (essays) from On Becoming Filipino: Selected Writings and Jenifer K. Wofford, “MacArthur Nurses” (painting) 2008, and MacArthur’s Leyte Landing, (photo) October 1944 [facilitator TBD]

7:30 – 9:00pm, Session V:  Louise Erdrich, “The Good Tears” from Love Medicine (novel excerpt) 1984.

Sunday, August 1

10:00am – noon, Session VI:  Slavoj Zizek, “The Communist Hypothesis” (111-125) (philosophy excerpt) from First as Tragedy, Then as Farce, 2009.


Mantones de Manila at La Pena Cultural Center

An installment of the five part series “Enlaces” exploring the Spanish, Indigenous, Arabic, and African influences in the music and dance of the Americas, on February 20 at La Pena Cultural Cultural Center in Berkeley, “Manton de Manila” showcased the beautiful embroidered silk shawls introduced across the globe by the Spanish.

Featuring:
María de la Rosa & Rudy Figueroa – Mexican Dance
Parangal Dance Company – Philippine Folk Dance
Theresa Calpotura-Classical Guitar
Asociación Cultural Kanchis – Peruvian Dance
De Rompe y Raja – Afro-Peruvian Cultural Association
Javier Trujillo – Peruvian Guitar
Virginia Iglesias – Flamenco Dance
Jorge Liceaga – Spanish Guitar
Edwin Lozada – Poetry
Paul Flores – Narrator
Exhibition of Mantones de Manila – Courtesy of Edwin Lozada (Carayan Press)

Curated by Edwin Lozada, editor of Field of Mirrors and member of PAWA Inc., Lozada owns an impressive collection of mantones de manila that span from 1820 to present time, gathered from all over the world. The show traced the history of these embroidered shawls back to Canton, China, purchased by the Spanish in Manila, which starting from 1571 through 1811 served as an integral port to the Galleon Trade. The popularity of these shawls spread to Mexico, Peru, and Spain, just to name a few countries. Weaving song and dance while chronicling the shawl’s diaspora, we start first in Veracruz, Mexico.

Unfortunately, no videos or photographs were allowed by the audience, but to get a feel for the similar threads that run throughout these cultures across the globe, here are some samplings from other sources. The first performance was Mexico’s National Dance, the Jarabe Tapatio:

After the dance, the dancers told the story of La China Poblana who was neither from China or Puebla but may have been a Mughal Princess named Mirrha taken captive by the Spaniards and brought to Puebla where she was bought by a wealthy Dona and Don and christened Catarina de San Juan. She’d fashion the most beautiful embroidered skirts that glittered and shimmered, and wear them when she went to the market. The ladies of Puebla soon adopted her style, and the skirt spread across Mexico. For more on Mirrha’s history check out Stitches in Time.

https://i0.wp.com/www.yucatanliving.com/article-photos/events/10082007-frida.jpg

Image from Yucatan Living

The evening’s performance then transported us to the port that made the embroidered shawl so famous. From Manila, “El Paseo”:

We also learned of Saint Martin de Porres (1579-1639) the Black Saint or La Santa Negra, the first saint of the Americas. Born illegitimately from a Spanish nobleman and a young, former black slave, he grew up poor but learned the medical arts at the age of ten and was already devoted to taking care of the sick. Porres later joined the Dominican Order and led a life committed to charity.

http://sandradi.files.wordpress.com/2009/11/saint-martin-de-porres.jpg

Image from Novena

In honor of the Saint of Peru, two dancers performed La Marinera:

The dancing ended with a rousing and riveting flamenco from Andalusia Spain:

And the rest of night belonged to the mantones themselves. Spanning from 1820 to 1940 (?), the later the shawl was made the more elaborate the embroidery and the longer the fringe, each one more beautiful than the next. From striking reds, gorgeous greens, vibrant blues and purple, the mantones de manila are marvelous creations made more unique and more lovely by the many different cultures that have stylized this shawl and called it their own. This show made me wonderfully proud to be a Chicapina.

https://i2.wp.com/www.museo-oriental.es/imagenes/didactica/Filipinas,%20trampol%C3%ADn%20hacia%20Oriente/Bordados%20y%20mantones%20de%20Manila.jpg

Image from Museo Oriental, Valledolid

For more information check out “Truth about the manton de Manila” by Bea Zobel Jr. on TravelSmart.net and watch for Lozada’s much anticipated book on the history and influence of the manton de manila.

___

Enlaces (Connections That Bind Us) El Mantón de Manila presented by La Peña Cultural Center in collaboration with Gabriela Shiroma (CulturARTE), Carayan Press, PAWA, Inc., Community Music Center-San Francisco

“the many ways in which our individual memories, histories, and stories may intersect with our cultural memories, histories, and stories”

Poet and Professor Barbara Jane Reyes covers the University of San Francisco fiction talk and workshop for her class “Filipino American Arts” in her post “Random: Culture, Commodity, Performance, Production”

…I am also thinking about erasure and invisibility (so, what’s new?). Last week in class, we discussed Lysley Tenorio’s story, “Save the I-Hotel,” which moves back and forth between the 1930’s and 1977, specifically the day of the final evictions of the I-Hotel. The story follows two men, laborers named Fortunado and Vicente, who are I-Hotel residents during that entire time period. We get the kind of care they exhibit toward one another, one helping the other find employment, sharing space however cramped, protecting each other from white male violence, keeping each other company when loneliness and homesickness are consuming, lending a coat to keep the other warm. It’s very tender. How do these things not amount to love, and how is this love never romantic? So that’s that, about erasure and silence; we simply cannot know that 100% of the Manongs were hetero, though we never ever hear about Manongs who were not.

I am also thinking of Rashaan Alexis Meneses’s visit to my class, also last week. She discussed how she came to her story, “Here in the States,” from the anthology Growing Up Filipino II, and her series of stories about immigrant workers in our urban areas (specifically, Los Angeles), what things about their American lives we never know because even though they’re omnipresent, we never ask them to tell us their life stories. She talked about the process of writing these stories and considering an audience who may not have the same cultural knowledge, how much to explain and translate, and how to explain and translate, while balancing what the story needs, at what pace it needs to move, from whose point of view it must be told.

She also conducted a writing workshop for my students, based upon memories, items that always occupy a special or significant place in our memories, and how to go about writing about these things. We started with a list of seven items and from there, did a freewrite engaging all the senses. I like this, the practice of keeping a written inventory of memories to which we can always return as artists. I like how this practice can bring to light the many ways in which our individual memories, histories, and stories may intersect with our cultural memories, histories, and stories. My students had some really great responses, and were, for the most part, quite open about why those items were so important to them, and where they are now in relation to these items. I later on told Rashaan about my mental inventory, and that I always go back to the same memory; all of th.e items on my list pertain to that memory of visiting Papa’s house in Gattaran when I was six…

Read the rest of the post here.

More coverage on the fiction workshop at the University of San Francisco will be forthcoming…

Zadie Smith, a post post-colonial writer?

From The New York Times’ “Other Voices, Other Selves” published January 14, 2010, Pankaj Mishra explores important points regarding Zadie Smith’s collection of essays in the collection, Changing My Mind, which, according to Mishra, Smith only edges around post-colonial politics, and skirts past mixed-race themes when she should be tackling these issues head on:

The essays that follow discuss some prominent dead white writers (George Eliot, Kafka, E. M. Forster, Nabokov, Barthes, David Foster Wallace), but they display no Edward Said-style counterreading of canonical texts. Their quirky pleasures derive from Smith’s own critical persona — always bold, jauntily self-reflexive and amusing — and her inspired cultural references, which include both Simone Weil and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

There is little hint of Smith’s culturally diverse background in her essays on (mostly Hollywood) movies and stars; they belong recognizably to an Anglo-American tradition of writing about cinema that alternates between masochistic reverence and slash-and-burn japery.

As a mixed writer, am of two minds about this. Wondering why we are expected to declare our ethnicity time and time again, as if our skin color, our names, our history, our family, and every living pore of us doesn’t announce it everyday of our lives. Sometimes we’d just rather talk about something other than our otherness. There’s more to that, as well, why be the first one to call ourselves out. If we announce our ethnicity, we are immediately placing ourself in the ethnic corner, which the critics will do whether we like it or now. Why can’t we just be “writer” or “president” without the qualifiying

In this essay (which compares Joseph O’Neill’s “Netherland” with Tom McCar­thy’s “Remainder”), Smith passes over the many novels from outside the West that have helped expand traditional bourgeois notions of self and identity. Yet her essay on Barack Obama is replete with the postcolonial-cum-postmodernist themes — hybridity, mimicry and ambivalence — that professors of literature and cultural studies commonly employ in American and British universities. Smith’s hope that Obama’s “flexibility of voice” may lead to “flexibility in all things” derives not so much from hardheaded political analysis as from academic high theory, which assumes that those who live between cultures best represent and articulate the human condition today. According to Smith, the moral of Obama’s story is that “each man must be true to his selves, plural.”

On this point, at least, Smith is ideologically consistent. In fact, the idea that “the unified singular self is an illusion” could be the leitmotif of this collection. It allows Smith to revisit her own early assumptions and to question such essentialist notions as “black woman-ness.” Reflecting on Kafka’s ambivalence about his ethnic background, she writes: “There is a sense in which Kafka’s Jewish question (‘What have I in common with Jews?’) has become everybody’s question, Jewish alienation the template for all our doubts. What is Muslimness? What is femaleness? What is Polishness? What is Englishness? These days we all find our anterior legs flailing before us. We’re all insects, all Ungeziefer, now.”

This may sound a bit melodramatic. But then — as Salman Rushdie and other practitioners of postcolonial postmodernism have stressed — ambivalence, doubt and confusion are essential to forming dynamic new hybrid selves. Smith seems to bring to this now entrenched critical orthodoxy the particular weltschmerz of today’s bright, successful but sad young writers. This is most evident in the collection’s final essay, a long and passionately argued panegyric to David Foster Wallace in which Smith diagnoses the central dilemmas of her own increasingly lost generation. These are dilemmas, she argues, that Henry James, who assumed awareness leads to responsibility, never encountered: “the ubiquity of television, the voraciousness of late capitalism, the triumph of therapeutic discourse and philosophy’s demotion into a branch of linguistics.”

Having hybrid identities, not belonging anywhere or indeed belonging everywhere, may have its advantages, but these attributes must still contend with pressing circumstances like the voraciousness of 21st-century capitalism. Far from floating free in a state of unbelonging, most people are trapped in predetermined social and political positions; they must act within the history that surrounds them. The possession of multiple selves and voices doesn’t seem to be helping — and may even be inhibiting — Barack Obama. The victims of the seemingly endless violence in Pakistan and Afghanistan would draw scant comfort from the knowledge that the present occupant of the White House has an ear for different accents and can mimic everyone from a white Harvard nerd to a Ken­yan elder.

Read entire article