Matteo Gallo

Illustration by Matteo Gallo

So far, it has been a constant.  Ants drawn in from under the front door; cockroaches flitting into their spaces whenever the light is flicked on; that one spring when ladybugs huddled upside down in the corners of my ceiling; mice; rats; bedbug welts the size of golf balls. My house has never been able to keep them out. There always seems to be something unwanted. And I began to wonder if this was a long tradition, something inherited.

            I remember my parents setting...

Illustration by Matteo Gallo

I came to writing late, starting at age thirty-four. My artistic life was born a month after my first child was born. I’m not fully conscious of the reasons for this. I only know that my writing often rises out of the dissonance between artistic and family life and that the poem included in the North American Review is no exception. Time is always the enemy. The need to spend time with my wife and children. The need to spend time with my work. And because time is limited, these two...

On "Goodwill" by Jason Lee Brown

After I publish a story, I usually enjoy feedback from my nonwriter friends more than my writer friends, though both are great. I grew up in a small town in central Illinois, and my hometown friends are blue-collar workers who find it amusing that I publish my little stories in journals they’ve never heard of. What I’ve learned from this feedback is that I know I have developed a good character when my friends say they know who in our hometown the character in my story really is. For me,...

I consider myself an activist as well as a poet, and have long debated whether the twain need meet. I believe in poetry’s power to move people and that we are all products of our time, so even a small detail in a poem might hint at a problem of the day.

For example, say lovers are strolling along a riverbank at night, and some of the moonlight is reflecting off broken bottles and cans. The poem may never stray any further from the couple’s affairs, but that image and the suggestion of...

My characters never write their endings. I feel exasperated when I hear writers say ‘the characters just took over and the story seemed to write itself’, as if the writing could be a glide through the first draft and revision, or maybe no revision. The length and the very nature of the short story, its economy, precision and mystery, suggests puzzle, conundrum, the prizing open of an oyster to find, not a pearl, but a live creature. Every story worth writing has at least one seemingly...

How to Keep It Real When Everything Has Gone Wrong

Ladies and gentlemen, party people and displaced souls,

we’re now reluctant refugees of a scratch-and-dent world.

This moment would mimic countless others we’ve squandered

were it not for this impromptu sermon. We should know better

than to be reckless with the truth. Honesty is careless by nature,

a master of bad timing, a deadbeat father repeating his litany

of stillborn promises. You...

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