North American Review

Illustration by Tom Moore

I’ve never cared for essays that compare the act of writing to some other activity. For example: “Writing is like swimming.” Or “Writing is like mushroom hunting.” Or “Writing is like wrestling.” I’ve seen all sorts of attempts over the years to box writing up into a convenient metaphor. But to what end? It might be useful in a freshman poetry workshop, but a seasoned writer can only take solace in such similes when they are incapable of or unwilling to write anything they’re happy...

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Matthew Schaefer

 

This Past Perfect will also appear in NAR's Summer 2017 issue, which will be available for pre-order here.

     It sounds like the set-up for a bad joke: “The President, the Press Secretary and the White House Press Corps walk into a room . . .” It may well be a bad joke, but the punch line remains elusive. Each of the primary agents in this now-...

Illustration by Jessica Mercado

     Poetry gives me a chance to document reality in an emotional way.

     I have lived in New Mexico for twenty-three years now. I bought my house nine days after I drove into town. From the start, I loved watching the way the clouds bubbled and shifted. The light blistered like a lit match, especially on overcast days, and I realized I needed this sort of glory. The climate was nearly perfect. Summers were not too warm and never sticky like the East Coast had been. And they came...

Mizna

This blog originally appeared as the introduction to a section of Arab American Poetry in NAR 302.2 (Spring 2017).

If there were ever a time for politically galvanizing literature, this is it. But, perhaps not in the way you might expect. It’s true that hateful political rhetoric has won the day and is making way for a bewildering political reality. The intolerance that has been normalized is sobering...

Matt Manley Art

As the semester ends, I find myself trying to gauge the slipperiness of this thing called improvement. Has Dave’s portfolio of writing displayed that he’s become a better poet this semester? Yes, his specifics are more specific, his forms more formed, but there’s something I realize I haven’t talked about enough: happenstance. The beauty of it. The necessity.

In my desire to impart the craft of poetry, I didn’t emphasize enough the chance of poetry. And chance is what gives life,...

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Gift Tower

When I read Siddhartha in Mrs. Stevens’ World Lit class,

the problem I had was reconciling the somber, skinny,

 

beneath-the-lotus-tree Buddha with the smiling,

fat-bellied, shiny golden Buddha beside the register

 

...
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 work were most helpful to you?

 

Daniel G. Payne:...

Signed Message from Tolan

In 1998, I was living in a small, unclean apartment in the heart of Brooklyn. It was summer, and I was confused, and I decided that the only thing that would help me overcome my confusion was a very long cross country drive, and the only thing keeping me from that drive was the apartment itself, and so I needed, desperately, a subletter. I put out all my feelers, describing the place as “well-lit.” A few days later, a friend from Teachers & Writers...

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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...

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