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:...



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 while also creating a feeling of community, which I think is unusual for a publication like this—a beautiful rarity....

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 &...

Photo 1

(photos by author)

Photo 2In 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.



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...

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 dislike some people have for what they label PC is often merely a demand that we all be RC:  “religiously correct.” Being sensitive...

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 the audiences, the information receivers.  The designers and illustrators are the mediators in such a triadic relationship to solve the visual...

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 writings only discuss the presidents or their policies, while others were written by the presidents themselves. This list is by no means...

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 interests. And if conversations are opportunities for characters to pursue their desires, which are not the same as what other characters want,...


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