art

Art by Matt Manley

    I wrote “I, Beast,” a poem honored by the North American Review, after reading a New York Times article in 2014, which explained that the soil in one particular Russian city had preserved ancient documents, some as mundane as a shopping list and a child’s fanciful drawing. The drawing was made in approximately 1260 by a boy named Onfirm, believed to be six to seven years old and includes the words, “I, beast,” as well as the creature that I describe in the poem. I’ve...

Illustration by Matt Manley

     The Polish government designated it the Year of Zbigniew Herbert and organized a celebratory reading at the Polish Embassy in DC, where a handful of Polish American poets read and discussed his singular influence. I read a Herbert-influenced poem along with an excerpt from my translation of Pan Tadeusz, the great nineteenth century Polish Romantic epic—the scene where all nature and all the inhabitants of Lithuanian Poland react to the advancing Napoleonic forces with an eerie...

Art by Tom Moore

 

Not the Thing but a Fossil of the Thing

 

Fern fronds fletched like a feather etch ache into gray slate,    

five petals float in a now-unbound crown,     

 

a thumb-sized spine curls and fans out to a tail, a spall splits

into stone pages stamped with tree bark

 

repeating like wallpaper, a leaf shines like oiled leather, oblate,

and an ammonite’s dull weight   

 

smells of new snow. A clam...

Illustration by Melanie Lambrick

There have been many writers who could be described, to varying degrees, as Gnostic, but Susan Howe is one of the most important. Just as William Blake’s Gnostic poetry endeavors to break out of the Corporeal realm and into the Eternal, Howe uses the materiality of language, writing, and history to break beyond them into a psycho-spiritual realm, into the transmundane. Her poetry connects with minds on the other side of living.

In her meditation on Chris Marker’s filmmaking, Howe...

Illustration of Candle by Melanie Lambrick

My recent return from yet another AWP (Association of Writers & Writing Programs) Conference, this one in the city where I spent an embarrassing portion of my time as a graduate student haunting second-hand bookstores and dark, empty bars, I’m reminded of what it is that exhausts me about every conference, every workshop, every book fair or reading that I engage in these days:  It’s the people.  I know, I know.  This is not something one admits to if one wants to be successful in the...

Illustration from 295.1 by Li-Ying Bao

As a professor teaching graphic design and digital multimedia development, I also really enjoy creating illustrations for the literary magazine North American Review.  I regard both illustration and graphic design as means of public visual communication which enhances the impact of the message from the authors, the information initiators, to the audiences, the information receivers.  The designers and illustrators are the mediators in such a triadic relationship to solve the visual...

Art by Christian Blaza

Humans in general could benefit from perspective taking, but Americans in particular could use a hefty dose. Our breadth and diversity slims the likelihood of any singular, epitomal American experience, and as such, the ability to compromise with one another, using a basis of mutual understanding to inform our actions, underpins American peace and progress. This mutual understanding requires a consistent personal labor of listening and imagining, imagining what it must be like to experience...

Photography by Chris Highland

"A New, Secular Scripture”

Naturalist John Burroughs wrote, “The book of nature is like a page written over or printed upon. . .in many different languages. . . We all read the large type [with appreciation], but only the students and lovers of nature read the fine lines and the footnotes.” (Leaf and Tendril, 1908).  John Muir spoke of “Nature’s Bible” and radical reformer Frances Wright, in her lectures in 1829, shocked her audience with the words: “The true bible...

Midwestern

Sometimes poems start with nouns. Could we even go so far as to say all poems begin their at-first fragile lives with the solidity of nouns? In the dark we move, and that moving matters when we bump into something or when our bare foot, warm from the bedclothes, comes down flesh against angle, onto a Lego block. Through the day we touch nouns: a pen, a handlebar, a coffee cup, our ear, a book’s spine, our beloved’s spine; or we long to touch, dream of touching, imagine touching,...

Drinks next to a window

I ate a dead man’s tiramisu this past summer.  I did not plan such a macabre act; one rarely does.  My husband Ryan and I had just become new residents to New York City and new regulars to a French patisserie and café two blocks from our apartment—when the owner and head chef, Jean-Francois, dropped dead from a heart attack.   He was forty-five.  I had seen Jean-Francois several times.  A no-nonsense man, he brought out warm trays of croissants, scones, and baguettes, even in the...

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