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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...
When I give a poetry reading, I usually try to wear something bright. I will wear my sweater featuring kissing penguins or a sundress with hot air balloons on it. I do this not because I want to look like the poet version of Zooey Deschanel, but because people usually approach me afterwards looking like they want to tuck a Zoloft prescription...
With the earthiness of mushrooms, black pepper, unsweetened cocoa, and ground coffee, these darkly delicious “Doom Cakes” will help you access the duende of any experience. For me, the culinary experimentation that resulted in this wicked concoction was directly related to Strauss’s Zarathustra, Kubrick’s 2001, the 9th century law code of...
Notes from the author: I like to say that my father was coughed out of the womb and rolled around in broken glass. He relished his children with a deep and fiery heart, but he was tough as a sack of rocks. He had one hell of a rough boyhood. His mom died of TB when he was six months old, and his father was quarantined with the same illness...
The cover art for this issue is a digital photo composite. Centuries before social media, artists knew that people were interested in people. I find the amorphic figures intriguing and mysterious, as there is no sense of who they are, where they are, or what they might be doing. Original digital photographs were taken with a 7.1 megapixel...
It’s a problem most writers face. But the danger seems particularly acute for nonfiction writers who are accountable to real people, even when names are changed. How do you tell the story you set out to tell? Or, put slightly differently, how do you tell the story that is yours to tell? In my case, I had to write the wrong story to find the...
Coat Rack
“Every word was once a poem”[1]. Every poem was once an experiment. I’m a pragmatic man. I’m a test pilot flying a fountain pen. Testing the limits of honesty[2]. I was going to begin by saying “watch me pull a rabbit out of a hat” but that’s the sort of malarkey I’m trying to avoid, the stiff collar, cleverness of prose (should I apologize...
I was born in Brooklyn but am currently living on the island of Oahu, part of a group of nine Hawaiian islands located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, farthest away from any landmass on Earth.  Some days I wake up and wonder how I got transported from one of the fastest-moving cities on the planet to find myself in Lotusland.  Truth to...
Notes from the author: I am especially pleased to appear again in America's oldest literary review. With respect to my poem, "A Day in the Life", I want to express my view that poetry which does not take risks is of insignificant value. Having served as an editor and publisher for a decade, I came to believe a distinctive voice is the most...
For the second straight night, I had a basketball dream. I was playing in the Final Four. In my dream, I scored a basket for the second straight game. Just one basket in each. A statistician might note my crisp 2.0 PPG average—not exactly Hall of Fame numbers. Scoring in the Final Four is a delightful dream (especially when compared with my...
  This poem was written quickly, in response to the murder of twenty young students and six educators by a deranged shooter at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, on December 14, 2012.  The world was horrified by this event; outpourings of grief dominated the news and social media; and like many people I felt a need to...
An article I wrote for Ohio Outdoor News this summer detailed the industry that, in Ohio, is uniquely Lake Erie: Fish cleaning houses.  They are smelly, wet and when the fishing is good, extremely busy.  The workers are paid piecework, generally -- that is, by the pound.  The more they clean, the faster they clean, the more they get paid.  It...
I taught the composing of poetry for thirty-seven years at the college. Here is a little note and a list I sent out before each class began. Let's make poems for some real reasons to enter art—to bring worlds to one another that we otherwise would not have, to create a place where you are safe to be you, to give your inward self the care and...
Chelsea Henderson's poem "Errata" won second place in the 2010 James Hearst Poetry Prize. A note from the author: I wrote "Errata" the summer after my second year of college, a summer that was difficult and emotional in many ways.  I read Simic's "Errata"---which inspired my somewhat shameless take on his poem---and something about the...
“Why become a storyteller?” I’m tempted toward the snappy reply: “Because I so narrowly made it through, it’s my duty to blaze trail for the others.”  For many years that duty angle, that in-spite-of defense, sustained my craft  safe and separate, until I took my debut novel on the road last summer.  I’d envisioned a safari, my inner Theodore...
This essay is dedicated to Mohamedou Slahi, author of Guantánamo Diary. Slahi has been imprisoned at the detention camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba since 2002. In all these years, the United States has never charged him with a crime. A federal judge ordered his release in March 2010, but the U.S. government fought that decision, and there is no...
Sometimes when I write it feels as if twenty minutes have gone by when in actuality it is 2pm and I’m still in a robe. When I first started writing this unnerved me.  After all, I could spend all those hours writing, alone, and in the end have nothing, or very little, to show for my time. “But the writer in the midst of a story needs to find...
Notes from the author: Here is an extension to my NAR published piece, "Village of Adams" in issue 296.4, Fall 2011. A high school dance company experience. I joined South Jefferson’s dance company in 11th grade. It was an easy decision. A girl asked me to be her partner, and I said yes. I knew what being a boy on the dance company meant. I...
Ted Kooser's poem "The Corpse of an Old Woman" can be found in Vol. 251, No. 6 (Nov., 1966), p.14, http://www.jstor.org/stable/25116500. THE CORPSE OF AN OLD WOMAN It has been lying on a braided rug with a teacup in its hand since yesterday at supper-time, and the neighbor-ladies shrug and say "She lets the lights burn night and day." Its cat...
Prayer for My New Daughter After Yeats, and inspired by an attack on transgender students using a “bathroom with urinals” at a college in the northeastern US. A soul in chrysalis, in first agonized molt, must choose: LADIES, or MENS. For some—for you—these rooms are fraught, an open field where lines are drawn: think of the White-Only signs....
On June 16, 1944, George Stinney, a fourteen-year-old black boy, was executed by the state of South Carolina for the murder of two white girls. George was so short he had to carry a Bible to use as a booster seat when sitting in the electric chair. He was so young the death mask would not fit his face. He took five full minutes to die, the...
My essay “Ice” (NAR Winter 2012) testifies to the old writers' seminar saw “Write what you know.” The essay is about Puget Sound and the ice-age glaciers that formed Puget Sound, and since Puget Sound is where I grew up and where I still live, it’s a place I know better than any other. The essay is also about my Grandmother Catherine and her...
Note from the author: The poem is set in the Midwest during the period of western migration, but it intends to make the reader consider how food and culture intertwine on several levels, from family to country. Perhaps it's good to remind ourselves of this linkage during this time of year when culture, family, and food are so prominent....
Travis Mossotti's poem "The Dead Cause" won first place in the James Hearst Poetry Prize in 2009. His poem is featured in issue 294.2, Spring 2009 and can be still be purchased through our online store.  The Dead Cause On the porch, a grasshopper waved its serrated foreleg at me while I juggled groceries for keys; it was the kind of friendly...
Conrad, my main character in "Equinox", barely existed in the first drafts of this story. He was supposed to be a teenager dealing with his dad going off the deep end, but instead he was somewhat shy, somewhat hesitant, somewhat sad and confused. He was barely a side character. I tried pushing him into an ending–forcing him to blow up on his...

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