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Illustration by Matt Manley of man looking through a square frame, hidden by shadows.

          I was fortunate to be born into a family that emphasized the importance of story.
          The first story they told me was my name. Next came my great-grandfather cutting watermelon into quarters as he and my father walked a field in Kentucky. Then came my mother running and jumping on the basketball court, powerful and balanced.
          Growing up, my little brother, Nathan, and I shared a room. Both Dad and Mom would come and read to us. They sat on the floor...

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 graceful turn like the limb of a willow nudged by the wind.
          We were young, only twenty-three when we...

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...

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...

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