2021: Year in Review

Protean was honored to feature the work of over 130 talented writers, poets, and artists this year, both in print and online. Here’s a small selection of our most-read publications from 2021.



Trees and Other Abolitionist Allies

From Amelie Daigle, an examination of the psychological and social effects of infrastructure—trees, parks, playgrounds—and who gets to benefit from them.

The American Prison System’s War on Reading

Alex Skopic revealed yet another facet of the evils of mass incarceration: denying prisoners even the small comforts of reading.

The Busch Family Brood

Devin Thomas O’Shea dove into the farcical criminality of the Anheuser-Busch brewery empire.

A History of Palestine in Song

Rami Soudah offered examples of how the struggle of the Palestinian people has inflected popular Middle Eastern music.

Who Counts?

KJ Shepherd showed how statistics misrepresent the homelessness crisis.

Gilded Rust: The Making of Buffalo’s Socialist Upset

C.M. Lewis analyzed how austerity prepared the ground for India Walton’s win in Buffalo.

There are Trees in the Future, Or, A Case for Staying

Lupita Limón Corrales on pandemic upheavals in L.A., the cold logics of real estate, and remaining rooted in a time of displacement.

Moral Calculations: Pandemic Coverage Obscures Individual Risk and Social Harm

Epidemiologists Abigail Cartus, Justin Feldman, and Seth J. Prins dismantled a misleading and inexpert COVID article—a popular format in The Atlantic .

Knox Still Rocks: A Pandemic Dispatch From Tennessee

Caitlin Myers gave us a glimpse into the slow tragedy of Knoxville, TN’s pandemic failures, made worse by its wrestling superstar mayor Glenn Jacobs, otherwise known as Kane.

To Survive Snow Duty

John Tormey took the measure of hard labor’s tax on the body.

Elves in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

Lyta Gold wrote on the symbolism in centuries of elven folklore.



Interrogating the ‘Crisis’ of Migration: A Review of Harsha Walia’s Border & Rule

An incisive review of the politics of exclusion in Harsha Walia’s Border & Rule from Sohel Sarkar.

Andy Ngo’s Unmasked: The Next Phase of the Grift

Shane Burley pilloried noted charlatan Andy Ngo’s execrable book and his signature blend of fraudulence, malevolence, and incompetence.

See the rest of our reviews and interviews to read the work of so many other talented writers.



Children of the Nkalagu Mine

A gently beautiful vision of African socialism from Ani Kayode Somtochukwu.

The Angel Is In

The arrival of an angel named Matt confounds the townspeople of Carl Harris’s comic imagination.


Lucy Zhang’s “Outgrowth” brings together the dreamlike and the biological.



Jamal Rashad and Richard Hamilton in Conversation

We were pleased to host this conversation between Jamal Rashad and Richard Hamilton.


Fargo Tbakhi’s “OF” confronted the occupation of Palestine.

Two Poems by Margaret Randall

Margaret Randall wrote with two exquisite poems, “Still Life, Winter 2021” and “I Pick Away.”


Leijia Hanrahan’s “RAÚL CASTRO LAUGHS IN HAVANA” retold a playful dream of the Cuban revolution.

Many thanks to these and all the other incredible poets we published this year.



Stolen Air

Kim Kelly remembered her grandfather, lost to workplace hazards, and all others who have been subjected to the same by cost-cutting and management indifference.

Breathe In, Breathe Out

Writing in early 2021, Luke O’Neil spoke to carrying on amidst ambient injustice—of the pandemic, and of American life.

Beneath the Cluttered Homes, the Beach?

A piece from our second issue that was released online this year. Matt Sekellick traced the linkages between hoarding and consumer capitalism.


Hanif Abdurraqib contributed the deeply powerful poem “ALL THE TV SHOWS ARE ABOUT COPS.”

Read our print editions from many more incisive essays, poems, and original works of art.



This is only a very small selection of the pieces that we put out over the course of 2021. We’re immensely grateful to all of our contributors—those appearing on this list and elsewhere. And we’d like to thank all of our readers and subscribers for the support that allows us to keep publishing radical literature and art. – The Protean Collective ♦

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