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Orion on the Dunes

Note: This interview was begun informally in person, and then continued more formally through email.

Charlotte Zoe Walker: Orion on the Dunes strikes me as a brilliant example of the art of biography. Were there any particular biographers who you thought of as role models while you were researching and writing this book? What aspects of their...

Fracture

 

J. D. Schraffenberger: Maybe I’m over-identifying as an editor myself, but I think Fracture is an impressive literary achievement, one that I think most people won’t realize was a huge undertaking requiring a lot of different kinds of meticulous work. You and Stefanie (Brook Trout) have brought together so many remarkable pieces of writing while also creating a feeling of community, which I think is unusual for a publication like this—a beautiful rarity....

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(photos by author)

Photo 2In May of 1909, John Burroughs visited Yosemite Valley as the guest of John Muir. One hundred years later, in May of 2009, I photographed many of the landmarks that Burroughs saw during his brief stay in the valley.

In his essay “The Spell of the Yosemite,”...

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Twenty-two nonprofit poetry organizations from across the United States have formed a Poetry Coalition.

Throughout the month of March, the Poetry Coalition presents programs on the theme “Because We Come From Everything: Poetry & Migration.” The theme borrows a line from U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera’s poem, “Borderbus.”

Now, more than ever, these organizations believe that poetry has a positive role to play in our country. It is through reading, writing, and...

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...

photography by Chris Highland

“An Equal Right to be Wrong”

I responded to a blog recently where a man mocked divinity schools for instructing professors and students to use gender-neutral words for God. The blogger sneered that this was being “politically correct” and unbiblical. Normally I wouldn’t engage this mean-spirited ignorance, but I wrote that the intense dislike some people have for what they label PC is often merely a demand that we all be RC:  “religiously correct.” Being sensitive...

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...

Mount Rushmore and American Flag

Scholars can study the major narratives of American history by reading the pages of the North American Review, from slavery and the Civil War, to the thoughts of nearly a dozen US presidents. Below are the names several presidents, along with links to writings that appeared in previous issues of the North American Review. Some of these writings only discuss the presidents or their...

Illustration by Kali Gregan

Not writing is a lot like breathing; it can continue without notice. And as I moved through my days into weeks and months of not writing, it started to feel completely normal. Like I never wrote at all: I was never that MFA student devouring every book of poems I could get my hands on, fervent, with my own poems coming like extended fever dreams, these bottle-rocket incantations that my mentor could barely keep up with. Everything I saw and touched was imbued with…what? Incredible potential...

Image of bird by Matt Manley

 

Clouds move at the leisure of the wind, whether urgent and gusting or placidly seeming painted upon the sky. Like eagles and falcons, rivers and the wind itself, clouds have provided a permanent and inexhaustible image for freedom. I find it hard not to envy them, yet I would feel unmoored and unnerved by such complete mobility, something like “the unbearable lightness of being” as Milan Kundera characterized it.   

 

“Plaintive Lives” was written at a time soon...

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