Letter • Teju Cole • October 1, 2013
At this fractured moment, our American agora appears to be dominated by noisemakers. Political debates are “won” by those who shout loudest, op-eds are written on little more than conjecture, and popularity counts more than anything else. The more thoughtful and reflective spaces are being silenced. And yet a self-preserving and self-nurturing instinct tells us that the essential work of interpretation is best found in a culture’s quieter spaces. We need reports in fiction, nonfiction, and photography that are engagé without being ephemeral and are steeped in a proper thoughtfulness.
Small magazines are among the guarantors of these habits of liberty. A Public Space has become one of our most remarkable small magazines by being a forum for creativity, tolerance, experiment, and witness. Each piece in the magazine, whether written about domestic affairs or from an international point of view, underscores William Carlos Williams’s faith in the “universality of the local.”
A Public Space has become, in the very short period of time since 2006, indispensable to our literary culture. I was delighted to be published in Issue 14, and an even greater thrill than that of publication was the opportunity to work with Brigid Hughes, the magazine’s editor-in-chief. The magazine reached its current level of excellence without the kind of institutional support that other publications of its kind depend on. This is a modern-day miracle. It came as little surprise that Brigid was this year justly recognized for her hard work and impeccable eye with the PEN/Nora Magid Award.
That this vital work continue depends on the generosity of its supporters. I therefore hope you will continue to support A Public Space—this little stalwart against the noisemakers—to as great a degree as you are able.
Teju Cole was born in the U.S. to Nigerian parents, raised in Lagos, and now lives in Brooklyn. His work has appeared in Chimurenga and the New Yorker, and he is the author of two novels, Every Day Is for the Thief (Cassava Republic) and Open City (Random House).
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