Across the room, a group of 20-somethings,
winding down their pasta dinners,
discover you can fret your finger on the rim
making even cheap wine flutes complain.
At first, annoying, an assault on ears,
but later like the reel whine
when a line is cast and catches sun,
its bright wick whipped against a sky so blue...
I’d known of Grant Tracey and his writing for years, because of his editing of the North American Review, but I had never met Grant before this past June. A few weeks previous to our meeting, in late April, my wife Melissa and I were visiting Cedar Falls, Iowa, the home of the University of Northern Iowa, where Grant teaches; and I was sitting in on a creative writing class being taught by my friend and Twelve Winters Press author Jeremy (J.D.) Schraffenberger, when...
One of the first pieces I accepted when I became nonfiction editor for NAR in 2008 was “The Malignancy of Beginnings” by Rafael Torch. I fell in love with this dark and gorgeous memoir of a man fighting abdominal cancer while his wife fought against, not a tumor, but an unwanted fetus growing in her abdomen. The parallels frightened me when I first noticed them: the husband fingering the lumps in his belly, moving them from side to side like golf balls. The wife...
All of us know a person too-dearly in love with his or her own saga. The world’s assembled triumphs and tragedies pale before the splendor of his homemade spinach omelet or the ouch of her stubbed toe. No matter what chronicle one giddily spins, he’ll call forth a responding story pay-grades higher than one’s minimum wage tale. My family refers to this sort as a “one-upper” – someone whose lion-killing, blonde joke-telling, soup kitchen volunteerism, bedroom...
"Faith" was written during a transitional period for me as a poet. I had recently left academia to take a full time position at my family's pest control business. As I worked to figure out how to write about roaches and bedbugs and the tenants at the public housing complexes where I spent most of my working hours, I found myself and my poetry shifting. Perhaps it was liberal...
I don’t believe I can talk about why I wrote the poem “Orogeny” without first explaining why I set myself the task of writing about mountains. In some ways, it was a deliberate act. But in other ways, as it always is with poetry, it was about instinct and passion, about how the words felt as they stood to...
If You Awake After I've Gone
I cleaned the glass to the woodstove
with wet newspaper. I didn't mean to
use the comics or the front page,
but you didn't miss much—
Summary: The world’s problems
are still the same and Sally hit Linus
in the head with her lunchbox
because he threw away her valentine.
A salmon laid her eggs this morning.
She turned sideways and glistened
silver. If the big white rock was Nevada...
Last spring, shortly after my story, “Borders”, was published in issue 299.2 of The North American Review, I received a check through the mail as payment for the rights to use the work.
It’s an odd thing, being paid for writing stories. It’s the same when I get royalty statements from my publishers for my latest novel,...