The Clerestory Podcast S1 E25

The Oklahoma Tenant Farmer and Me
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About Clerestory Magazine

A clerestory allows light and air into the body of a church. Here, each story is like a window through which the pain and beauty of the human experience shine.

For three years, Clerestory Magazine provided editorial space for writers and artists to explore subjects at the intersection of action and contemplation. Through eight online editions and one 190-page print volume, Clerestory fostered dialogue across lines of difference, celebrated beauty, and engaged three fundamental elements of the human experience: being, becoming, and belonging.

We intentionally published the work of artists from diverse social locations and work from every continent but Antarctica. Our unique form of searching storytelling allowed writers space to explore the personal and social dimensions of their experiences, like seeking asylum, grieving a spouse, being incarcerated, becoming a parent, learning to love one's body, finding solace in the ocean, and everything in between and beyond. We hope we made space for knowledge of difference, injustice, and common humanity to coexist.

We also published long-form interviews with lauded activists and leaders working on related subjects, ranging from prison reform and conflict transformation to the role of the arts in public life. Their wisdom gave shape to each issue and allowed readers to engage in their calls to action and support the real-world work of social healing and human flourishing.

The connection between inner and outer work - a bridge drawn for centuries by contemplatives and community leaders alike - was the lynchpin of Clerestory. Our art served a purpose: to refine our attention and cultivate virtues that serve the wider world; to actually make us softer, more nurturing and compassionate in a world too often gripped by the worst human impulses. We believed - and still do - that by listening to the lived experiences and perspectives of others, we learn to hold difference, vulnerability, and suffering, more tenderly.

While the time our publishing has come to a close, for now at least, our deepest hope is that this repository of human wisdom can serve as a little flame for this broader vision. Until our paths cross again, we'll leave you with these transcendent lines from Mary Oliver. Remember:

it is a serious thing

just to be alive
on this fresh morning
in the broken world

About the Editor

Sarah James is the founder and editor-in-chief of Clerestory Magazine and host of the Clerestory Podcast. A graduate of Yale University and Middlebury College, she is a biracial woman of color and writes about feminism, contemplative spirituality and culture. Her work appears elsewhere in Earth & Altar, Darling, The Porch, and Relevant, among others.


Special thanks Connie Barton of Studio Connie for branding and design; Spevack Loeb for website development and design; and Studio Faculty for anthology design and production.