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Latest Blogs

Danger in the Journey. An illustration by Christian Ruiz of a bridge with water underneath and dangers within.
Thoreau: A Writer’s Journal is the book I loaned Andrew when we were first becoming friends. That day he confessed he’d been clean a while and his girlfriend had broken up with him. He was having a hard time. He was worried he’d use again. It seemed to pain him to tell me. He was one of those sweet men who often seem to think they are...
http://www.ryaninzana.com/
Compression is often mentioned among the essential characteristics of poetry. Pressed, promoters of compression note that poems are short, but that seems either ingenuous or disingenuous and may be a little misleading. Poems are short, compared to other literary forms, but a shorter poem is not necessarily a better poem. In general, a poem...
Pieces of Bennet by Anne Lambelet
“The Aesthetics of Dairy Farming” [Listen here] is a poem central to my longer manuscript, Birdsong and Buckshot: An Elegiac Echo, which is an elegy for my father who passed away in 2008 before I entered my MFA program at George Mason. This particular poem went through twenty to fifty drafts because it started as one of those typical MFA...
canadian living
As a child, I was a passionate fossil collector, and I’ve been wanting for years to use some of that experience in a poem. My uncle used to take me to the local strip mines in Pennsylvania to search for fossils, and the layers of sedimentary rock really did fall open under our picks like the thick pages of a book, stamped with all kinds of...
Illustration by Matt Manley of a woman with clocks and spirals in front of her.
The Fall 2012 issue of the North American Review includes my essay "I Am Here, in This Morning Light." It was my second publication ever in what I thought of as a "fancy" journal, which was a big deal for a sixty-year-old woman with no academic background in writing and little knowledge of literary publishing. A woman who often had a hot...
Illustration by Clay Rodery of a man in a suit looking at a machine
In my students’ short stories, characters often move through their world with an absurd sense of urgency. A girl and boy go on a date, fall in love, break up, and get married in a blur of successive scenes, sometimes by page three. An assassin hunts down a dozen targets and picks them off with an efficiency that would make Jason Bourne...
Angel, a photo by Nicolas Poynter. It shows a city and building with an angel sculpture on the tip.
I think about my story “La Bomba Grande” often these days because it begins in Mexico and I have now lived in Mexico for the entire year of 2017. It is the story of a young Mexican woman who figures out the secret of life and God and science, even though she has no formal training in any of those areas. She is then, of course, persecuted for...
My East Meets West, Illustration by Nancy Calef.
Or so the Chinese sage Laozi observed in the Dao De Jing, written 2,500 years ago. Needless to say, this has never kept a writer from writing. Including Laozi himself. He went on to say, "This is what words act like: the universe." Sure, trying to capture the universe in words is an endlessly frustrating vocation, although some might say...
Mary Ann Smith
A few years ago, I had an essay accepted by a literary journal about a stream that ran near my house. After the initial correspondence, the editor asked if I had any pictures to accompany the essay. I sent two, but she wanted more. My younger daughter had recently taken an interest in photography, so that October afternoon we walked along...
Justin Perkins
  The AWP Conference was in Minneapolis in April of 2015. Per usual, I drove to the event carrying books and displays for the Main Street Rag booth. I stopped at the North American Review table to talk to Jeremy Schraffenberger. I proposed a panel that was accepted for the North American Review Conference in June of that year. It occurred...
Kim Herbst
The poem refers to my mother's sisters, who I spent a lot of time with while growing up on the island of Oahu during the 1950s, in what was then still the Territory of Hawaii. Two of them lived with my widowed grandmother—one with her three children, and one who was solo until later in life. (There's a long story there.) I've also written...
Danger in the Journey. An illustration by Christian Ruiz of a bridge with water underneath and dangers within.
The first time I saw my father broken was a revelation. It was the morning after his multiple heart procedures at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. Someone had propped him up in a mechanical chair, although his body had no strength, and he was slumped forward, chin to chest. Wires and cords slithered every which way, making me think of a...
Matt Manley
Mike Pazin and I have been friends for a long time—longer than memory allows. Our parents told us how we met in kindergarten, reminded us every time we fought like brothers, told us how close we could become, how fortunate our proximity. Our parents shared a back fence, a small one in the corner of their yards. Mike and I jumped that fence so...
Vlad Alvarez
For years I've listened to people, everyone has, rave about their dentists or doctors, "Why Dr. Brown made the root canal almost painless," or "Grams was smiling right up to the time of her surgery" and, "Dr. Connor did his very best to save her but no one could." Cynic that I am, I've often thought, maybe you didn't need a root canal, maybe...
Clay Rodery
“The Hunger Artist” is a poem from my manuscript-in-progress, Songs of the Isolationist. Songs explores various registers of isolationism—from a pregnant woman’s fear of the baby’s invasion of her body and mind to a naturalized citizen's fear of living in a nation where her outsider status seems not to be remediated through citizenship....
By Anthony Tremmaglia
It is 3 am, and I am awakened by a hissing of wind. The stillness feels like what the inside of a coffin would feel like, the darkness draping outside, punctuated by a silence of stars. I have just dreamt about exorbitant amounts of food and tidal waves, somewhere in a dilapidated community, to which I somehow belong. I want to write. Years...
by Jim Daniels
In October 2017, Challenges to the Dream: The Best of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Awards at Carnegie Mellon University was published by CMU Press. I started the awards, a poetry and prose writing contest, back in 1999. This anthology is a selection of the powerful and imaginative poetry and prose that the Awards have. We invite in local...
By Melanie Lambrick
We'd been driving back roads, cruising for home, flipping through FM stations, searching for a pop station at the request of my children, when I heard Ryan Adams crooning to a cover of “Bad Blood” by Taylor Swift. It was moody, like most of his songs, but good. It was a cover that provided a truly unique twist on the original, which up to...
Image of Girl with Fire
I have two best friends, and they are biological sisters. When one sister’s husband became very ill, some old high school buddy randomly texted, asking me about the husband’s health. When I asked the other sister what was going on, she said (with kindness), “It’s not my story to tell.” The saying has become a catchphrase. It’s a way of saying...
Ladder with tree
Writing is a form of contemplation—Thomas Merton There is something about the islands, in my case, the northeast shore of Maui near Hana that not only physically removes you from the turmoil of daily tragedies, the newsflash of the airplane crash, the latest catastrophe of glacial ice melts, the refugees and chaos in the Middle East, the U.S...
light bulb
It’s becoming a thing.   Literary magazines have blogs, bonus content that’s supposed to draw people to their pages. It’s all supplemental-like sausage when you already have bacon, but it’s still sausage, and if it has the right amount of sage, it’s worth your time and tongue. I can’t say this article has the metaphoric spice or the spongy...
https://www.fridakahlo.org/
In my story “Frida Kahlo Sex Dreams,” a young couple grapples with lust, jealousy, sexuality, and gender roles while striving for the American Dream in the suburbs of Washington, DC. The main character’s grasp on reality unravels when recurring sex dreams about Frida Kahlo challenge his established views of marriage and life choices. ...
art anthony tremmaglia crossing head artist
William Carlos Williams believed that the "universal is in the particular." and I feel very connected to this statement and how it affects American literature. Looking back, I believe that Whitman also thought that the universal was in the particular and took huge risks in his poems with line length, sound content, and word usage,but in...
art by Kali Gregan
"A Murder During the Reagan Era" appeared in NAR issue 302.3. Dedicated to Roberta Barrett (1936-2016), who didn’t shirk from her morbid son-in-law’s curiosity and showed him the letter from her cousin in jail for murder and spawned this story.      This story rose from offal I had trimmed from a novel manuscript. As much as I enjoyed the...
Illustration by Tom Moore
This blog is about Betsy's poem "nails and wings" which appeared in NAR issue 302.2 and is available here.             Dog paddling across a gigantic sparkling lake while weeds grab at my legs—that’s the metaphor for marriage that floated to the surface this morning. Unlike falling in love, which is generally effortless, delicious,...

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