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horse painting by anne-marie brown
          I am one of those unlucky people to whom falling asleep does not come naturally. When I close my eyes, I am immediately beset by slews of thoughts—they fly in like volleys of tiny arrows through my bedroom window, finding me, pricking me, keeping me awake. However, I’ve learned that sleeping well (when I’m able to do it) contributes...
Black Fin by Mary Frisbee Cover Design
Mary Frisbee’s Black Fin is the wonderful first release of North American Review’s new noir imprint Gas Station Pulp. The book centers on Olive Wiley, a street-smart, slightly shady young woman who happens upon a little girl, Sarah, whose mother has just been murdered. Olive only knows two things about the situation: that Sarah was probably...
Illustration by Matt Manley of man looking through a square frame.
          What else do we have except story? To say how we love one another. To offer comfort. To prepare for grief, for suffering. To try to remember joy.           In the beginning was the word and the word was made flesh. And what were those words? Mostly the language of the body. Breast and thigh, curve of back, ankle’s stem and neck’s...
painting of a small child sitting in grass
Laurie Lamon​ The making of this poem took a very long time. I did not write about my father's death for almost twenty years. I was always interested in my father's tools, especially his level, which now is mine. It is big and heavy, and over seventy years old. To barely move it is to disrupt equilibrium.  So much of working with poetry makes...
woman on fire
By Patricia O'Brien Introduction ♢ “Mother’s Love is bliss, is peace, it need not be acquired, it need not be deserved. If it is there, it is a blessing; if it is not there, it is as if all the beauty had gone out of life.” – Eric Fromm Patricia O’Brien is our mother, our bliss. In advance of Mother’s Day, let us all honor the beauty that...
Matt Manley artwork
My poem “Southside” was inspired by an amazing book titled Truevine written by Roanoke-based writer Beth Macy. Macy spent years building community relationships and conducting research that would enable her to speak to the particular story of racial pain detailed in the book as well as our community and country’s genocidal history toward...
Black Fin cover
Repost from article "Noir, noir" by Melody Parker printed in The Courier May 23, 2018 Mary Frisbee Johnson is pretty certain about one thing: Her sister-in-law isn’t going to like reading Johnson’s new book, “Black Fin.” “She loves reading mysteries, and she’s told me she wants to read mine, but ‘Black Fin’ is dark. It’s not a cheerful,...
Jellyfish
I wrote "Not a Beautiful Poem" about one of my longest and dearest friends who has frequently been a muse for my writing. This particular piece came to life for me through both conversations and my own lived experience with my muse-friend; and also by way of these photos she sent to me while diving in Southeast Asia. The story of the poem is...
Frozen by Anthony Tremmaglia
I am often asked about the relationship between—specifically the intersection of—poetics and philosophy. Usually, the question begins with the ontological: the notion of “the poem” and “philosophy” (what  the poem/philosophy is rather than what it does). The question of “what a poem is” should, I believe, go unanswered (and ultimately it...
Natasha Dennerstein and Kaye Freeman
Process Note on my Poem "Aspic Lipstick Fabric District Prayer" Natasha Dennerstein I have been collaborating with LA painter, Kaye Freeman. A detail of her large painting “The Emperor’s Twit” was used as the cover of my last book from Norfolk Press in San Francisco, a novella-in-verse “About a Girl.” I have also read poems at one of Kaye...
Ghost by Christian Blaza
I was scrolling around the internet today, looking for articles about envy and writers—long story—when I came across a web posting with the following title: “Do You Ever Feel Jealous of Other Writers?” What a stupid, stupid question. Writers are jealous of other writers always, all the time. Except the proper word here, I may point out, is “...
Books by Hokyoung Kim
When the events I relate in “Noir Girl: An Essay in Two Takes” happened to me, I was in a big transitionary period. I’d recently decided to take a break from fiction, having finished writing a 440 page novel six years in the making (at least four of which consisted of me pacing, pitching imaginary baseball games for which I supplied the...
Bookwood by Faye Rogers
  Is what is named not already lost? -Albert Camus (tr. N) He had two rooms on the same floor. -Ingeborg Bachmann (tr. Mary Fran Gilbert) If a translator stands both before and after, it is in part out of desperation. And so why not, in such an instance, (I mean in an instance in which one is called upon to speak of something when one has...
Galaxy of Resolutions by Chris Ruiz
                  The trick of the fiction writer is the beautiful lie, writing words to create experiences that never happened.  When the novel was still “novel,” writers often imitated nonfiction forms: diaries, like the great Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte; or letters, like Samuel Richardson’s Pamela; or travelogues, like Daniel...
Abyss by Vlad Alvarez
​Emötoma in Spanish sounds like something in between hemotoma and the cancer of emote; thus, I have translated it as (H)emötoma. Before my diagnosis of cancer, I had fallen in love with Minerva Reynosa's playful language and exuberance, so after my confrontation with cancer, (H)emötoma boosted my will to live. The surprising juxtapositions...
Greening by Mary Ann Smith
     “The poet says, Here, let me show you something. That is, let me help you to see      something as you have not seen it before.”                              —N. Scott Momaday Before I launch into a typical day of teaching, I want to include a couple of passages I use every year to illustrate the idea of gestures, their importance,...
Danger in the Journey. An illustration by Christian Ruiz of a bridge with water underneath and dangers within.
Thoreau: A Writer’s Journal is the book I loaned Andrew when we were first becoming friends. That day he confessed he’d been clean a while and his girlfriend had broken up with him. He was having a hard time. He was worried he’d use again. It seemed to pain him to tell me. He was one of those sweet men who often seem to think they are...
http://www.ryaninzana.com/
Compression is often mentioned among the essential characteristics of poetry. Pressed, promoters of compression note that poems are short, but that seems either ingenuous or disingenuous and may be a little misleading. Poems are short, compared to other literary forms, but a shorter poem is not necessarily a better poem. In general, a poem...
Pieces of Bennet by Anne Lambelet
“The Aesthetics of Dairy Farming” [Listen here] is a poem central to my longer manuscript, Birdsong and Buckshot: An Elegiac Echo, which is an elegy for my father who passed away in 2008 before I entered my MFA program at George Mason. This particular poem went through twenty to fifty drafts because it started as one of those typical MFA...
canadian living
As a child, I was a passionate fossil collector, and I’ve been wanting for years to use some of that experience in a poem. My uncle used to take me to the local strip mines in Pennsylvania to search for fossils, and the layers of sedimentary rock really did fall open under our picks like the thick pages of a book, stamped with all kinds of...
Illustration by Matt Manley of a woman with clocks and spirals in front of her.
The Fall 2012 issue of the North American Review includes my essay "I Am Here, in This Morning Light." It was my second publication ever in what I thought of as a "fancy" journal, which was a big deal for a sixty-year-old woman with no academic background in writing and little knowledge of literary publishing. A woman who often had a hot...
Illustration by Clay Rodery of a man in a suit looking at a machine
In my students’ short stories, characters often move through their world with an absurd sense of urgency. A girl and boy go on a date, fall in love, break up, and get married in a blur of successive scenes, sometimes by page three. An assassin hunts down a dozen targets and picks them off with an efficiency that would make Jason Bourne...
Angel, a photo by Nicolas Poynter. It shows a city and building with an angel sculpture on the tip.
I think about my story “La Bomba Grande” often these days because it begins in Mexico and I have now lived in Mexico for the entire year of 2017. It is the story of a young Mexican woman who figures out the secret of life and God and science, even though she has no formal training in any of those areas. She is then, of course, persecuted for...
My East Meets West, Illustration by Nancy Calef.
Or so the Chinese sage Laozi observed in the Dao De Jing, written 2,500 years ago. Needless to say, this has never kept a writer from writing. Including Laozi himself. He went on to say, "This is what words act like: the universe." Sure, trying to capture the universe in words is an endlessly frustrating vocation, although some might say...
Mary Ann Smith
A few years ago, I had an essay accepted by a literary journal about a stream that ran near my house. After the initial correspondence, the editor asked if I had any pictures to accompany the essay. I sent two, but she wanted more. My younger daughter had recently taken an interest in photography, so that October afternoon we walked along...

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