Illustration by Isha Khanzode.

Illustration by Isha Khanzode.

Podcast: The Poetry Gods

The Poetry Gods is arguably the best poetry podcast at the moment. In a world that likes to say poetry is dead, this podcast shows that the art form is very much alive. The hosts and interviewees alike are some of the most exciting contemporary poets. Hosted by José Olivarez, Aziza Barnes, and Jon Sands, guests have included Morgan Parker, Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib, and Paul Tran. I suggest starting with the hilarious interview with Jayson P. Smith and working your way up. The Poetry Gods is important because it is dedicated to highlighting poets of color in a medium still stereotyped as one for dead white men. —Diamond Sharp

TV Show: Stranger Things

I’m in a state of brain-haze after bingeing all night on the new Netflix series Stranger Things. It’s about a young boy who mysteriously vanishes from a small Indiana town, which sets his group of school friends, a bunch of teenagers, and a team of adults spiraling into separate investigations that also involve a telekinetic girl, a blood-feasting monster, evil scientists, and a portal into a dark parallel dimension called the Upside-Down. This show is CRAZY ADDICTING, and the complex plot will slowly reveal itself as you watch with a careful eye. It’s also got some of the most realistic kid and teen actors I’ve ever seen portrayed on a TV show (major props to the casting director), and the series’ homage to 1980s Hollywood sci-fi is aesthetically spot-on, with its grainy title card, campy vibe, cheesy dialogue, and vintage costumes. The show is more suspenseful than it is scary, but I will say that I was relieved to see the sun come up as I finished the final episode. —Jinnie Lee

Movie: IMperfection II

As a person with a deformity or disability, when you look at the the types of people put at the forefront of the body-positivity movement, it can sometimes feel like someone forgot to mail you your invitation to the body-positivity party. I admit that seeing a bunch of abled-bodied people being the sole representation of what self-love looks like scares me away from posting a sweet pic of my twisted back. Photographer, scoliosis activist, and retired model Ayesha Jones made the film IMperfection II to help create that space for differently abled people. As a model, she was kicked off set when a photographer realized how crooked her back was, and a cumulation of events like this prompted her to create IMperfection II and contradict the ancient notions of what a “good” body looks like. The video opens with distant voices describing what scoliosis is, while Jones walks through tall weeds that appear to symbolize her journey with scoliosis. The rest of the video is like a moving collage of sorts, where we see Jone’s face and shots of nature overlapping with images of Jones’s back and surgery scars. These are most important scenes for me because she unashamedly bends over to reveal the hump on the right side of her back and wears her scars like they’re something casual. Pairing her “deformity” with images of mountains and bodies of water communicates to the viewer that she is part of this earth and belongs here just like anyone else—just like an able-bodied person. This film furthers the conversation on what constitutes a “healthy” or “lovable” body. It’s helped me form my own opinions and beliefs on how to have positive thoughts about my scoliosis without thinking of myself as “inspiration” for others. It helps expand the idea of what beauty is and what it can be. —Thahabu ♦