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Latest Blog Posts

Latest Blog Posts

Illustration by Matt Manley
  Line There are rungs across the plains. If you’re ok with not looking  too close, they become the kind of ruled mirage you find on cereal box  stickers where holographic animals twitch and transform by tilting  the angle of the card. If you don’t mind squinting, tree stands turn  to their fields and caress the pastured cheeks. Take a...
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...
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...
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...
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...
Photography by Chris Highland
“Fear” (Photos by Author) No rational person would say we are not living in fearful times. In fact, many irrational people believe we are too! What we perhaps need the most is for someone, anyone, to address our fears with a steady and sensible voice. Once again, Ingersoll steps up and stands out.  Otherworldly beliefs build their shaky...
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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   at Mei-Ling Shanghai, Metuchen’s only ethnic restaurant. It’s like when I open the Harry & David...
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...
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...
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...
Photo 1
(photos by author) In 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,” Burroughs writes,“Yosemite won my heart at once, as it seems to...
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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,...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
Illustration by Anne Lambelet
I like to tell my students that every conversation is a fight. Well, at least in fiction. In fiction, every character has a desire, and it’s usually the case that no two characters have exactly the same desire. It’s also usually the case that dialogue is not just talking—it’s a forum in which characters try to move the situation toward their...
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...
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...
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 “...
Midwestern
Sometimes poems start with nouns. Could we even go so far as to say all poems begin their at-first fragile lives with the solidity of nouns? In the dark we move, and that moving matters when we bump into something or when our bare foot, warm from the bedclothes, comes down flesh against angle, onto a Lego block. Through the day we touch nouns...
Drinks next to a window
I ate a dead man’s tiramisu this past summer.  I did not plan such a macabre act; one rarely does.  My husband Ryan and I had just become new residents to New York City and new regulars to a French patisserie and café two blocks from our apartment—when the owner and head chef, Jean-Francois, dropped dead from a heart attack.   He was forty-...
A person
Most poems are written in the space between what Wallace Stevens called the “nothing that is not there and the nothing that is,” issued from silence and seeking the resonance and depth of silence. Like Elijah, poets stand on mountaintops and witness fires, earthquakes, and storms, all while waiting for a word from the Divine. Jake Adam York’s...
Image of a skyline
“A Church Of The Future. . .Without God” In The Chicago Tribune, November 1891, Ingersoll was asked, “What is going to take the place of the pulpit?”  His response is chilling for believers, and cause for celebration among the happy infidels.  What he describes is nothing less than a Secular Church for Freethinkers.  Centered in education...

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