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Our first interview went something like this.
“So, what can you tell me about being a dog?”
Cici, my 14-pound mutt, remained mum.
“Not talking, eh?”

She cocked her head in confirmation.
It was a rare moment for us, not the “me-talking-to-a-dog”part (that’s standard practice these days), but her refusal to offer so much as a bark in reply. For the eight years we’ve known each other, my Chihuahua/spaniel/[insert your best guess here] mix-breed had always excelled...

Charles Hempstead

The North American Review holds an estimable reputation among lovers of the arts, culture, and literature. As one of the nation’s oldest periodicals on these subjects, it touts an impressive register of contributors, both past and present.

The newspaper clipping seen here was pasted into a scrapbook compiled by one...

I love poems that have a strong narrative spine, and thank Robert Frost for inspiring that appreciation. Narrative is what holds “Convoys” together (NAR, Fall, 2012). Perhaps one would be hard pressed to see Frost’s influence in “Convoys”, but for me he was the model.

The winter I wrote the poem, I was rereading The Poetry of Robert Frost, the complete...

 

One of my favorite quotes is from Robert Frost: “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.” Yet many of the writers I know shy away from anything “teary” for fear that their work might be seen as (cringe!) melodramatic. But the trouble with shying away from drama (for fear of melodrama) is that it often stifles you before you go to where you need to go in your story. Often to find the beating heart of a story, the part where our throat tightens and...

STRIP MINE

A terrible, lunar beauty,
pale and sere
like leaves past withering
when we run along the edges,
slag bits broke loose and
rolled down the wash
to the bottom,
pebbles round
as dark marbles,
two halves of ancient bivalve clam
facing each other
in frozen contemplation,...

 

UntitledYou probably never thought about this before; but if you were ever face to face with a grizzly bear, you might think you’d run.

But when I encountered a huge, teeth-baring, grizzly bear, I didn’t...

 

Some Music

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...

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...

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