The On Being Project

Sarah Smarsh
Sarah Smarsh

is a columnist for On Being. Her column appears every other Tuesday. She is a journalist and memoirist who writes about socioeconomic class, place, and other boundaries in America. She has reported on public policy for The New Yorker and Harper's online, The Guardian, Guernica, and many others. Her essays and cultural criticism have appeared at Aeon, Longreads, McSweeney's, and more. Her book In the Red, on the American working class and her upbringing in rural Kansas, is forthcoming from Scribner. She lives in Kansas and Texas. Read more about her work at sarahsmarsh.com.

Dwelling at the Edge, Together

Reflecting on a tumultuous summer, Sarah Smarsh leans into the gifts that abound amid tragedy and loss, with hope for our unity and our resilience.

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Dwelling at the Edge, Together

A Nature That Could Improve the World

The challenges we fret over as adults are often simple in the eyes of our children. Sarah Smarsh offers an antidote to the vitriol of our politics — through viral videos that illustrate the wisdom of children.

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A Nature That Could Improve the World

Seeing Injustice with Bravery

It is a privilege to feel that this is a time of unusual turmoil. Sarah Smarsh points at our responsibility in this revelatory moment: not just to look at the injustice we live amidst, but to act on what we see.

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Seeing Injustice with Bravery

As a Nation, Where Do We Stand?

In the age of “hashtag activism,” standing in place together remains a powerful symbol of collective strength. Sarah Smarsh reflects on the gravity of steadfast presence in bringing about change.

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As a Nation, Where Do We Stand?

The Data of Tragedy and The Province of Art

In an information-saturated world, it’s the power of poetry and art that helps us transcend a steady stream of depressing news reports and partisan diatribes and process just how badly we’re hurting as a country.

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The Data of Tragedy and The Province of Art

Bliss on a Dirt Path: What Trail Running Taught Me About Intention

When we over do the things we love, sometimes the solution isn’t to do less or more but to do it differently. Sarah Smarsh reflects on treasuring the method of running over the measurement of it — and learning to scramble and splash with intention.

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Bliss on a Dirt Path: What Trail Running Taught Me About Intention

The Danger of Rumination Without Release

In baseball as in life, skirmishes are healthier when they’re not prolonged. Looking to the animal kingdom for wisdom, Sarah Smarsh reflects on the danger of rumination without release and the healing power of bodies in motion.

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The Danger of Rumination Without Release

Fighting To Be Heard: The Deeper Need to Read and Encounter

The desire to write and to read isn’t always handed down, but a single encounter may be all it takes to propel one forward. Sarah Smarsh on meeting Anne Rice with her mother in a Kansas bookstore.

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Fighting To Be Heard: The Deeper Need to Read and Encounter

The Wind Doesn’t Stop at Customs: A Global Seed Vault Models a New Way Forward

What might you store in a vault meant to preserve your most cherished things for generations to come? Sarah Smarsh shines a light on the stewards preserving earth’s biodiversity from a mountainous vault in Norway.

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The Wind Doesn’t Stop at Customs: A Global Seed Vault Models a New Way Forward

When the Physical Becomes Secondary: The Shared Experience of Built Sacred Spaces

In this hyper-connected world, we lose a sense of the physical spaces crafted for ritual and coming together. Our new columnist Sarah Smarsh on the importance of built, sacred spaces in a secular world.

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