Never a Borrower

Sharon Olds is the author of eleven volumes of poetry, most recently Stag’s Leap (Knopf, 2012), which was awarded the T. S. Eliot Prize and the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Her next collection, Odes, is due out shortly, also from Knopf. Named New York State Poet Laureate from 1998–2000, Olds teaches in the Graduate Creative Writing Program at New York University and is one of the founders of NYU’s writing workshops for residents of Goldwater Hospital and for veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. A Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Science, she was awarded the Donald Hall–Jane Kenyon Prize in American Poetry in 2014, and was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2015.

Elbow Room

Boone’s genius was to recognize the difficulty as neither material nor political but one purely moral and aesthetic.

—William Carlos Williams,
“The Discovery of Kentucky”

Narrator is unmanageable. Demonstrates a disregard for form bordering on the paranoid. Questioned closely, he

James Alan McPherson (1943–2016), a native of Savannah, Georgia, was recently selected for induction into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame. He won the 1978 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction with his second short-story collection, Elbow Room, and in 1981 he was in the inaugural group of MacArthur Fellowship recipients. The American Academy of Arts and Sciences added McPherson to its membership in 1995, and in 2000 his “Gold Coast” was included by editor John Updike in Houghton Mifflin’s Best Short Stories of the Century. McPherson was educated at Morgan State University, Morris Brown College, and Harvard Law School—after which he decided to get an MFA in creative writing from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop (1971). Elbow Room was preceded by the fiction collection Hue and Cry (1969) and followed by two nonfiction works, Crabcakes: A Memoir (1998) and A Region Not Home: Reflections on Exile (2000). Beginning in 1969, McPherson taught briefly at the University of California–Santa Cruz, Harvard, Morgan State, and the University of Virginia; he returned to the Iowa Writers’ Workshop as a faculty member in 1981, and he was associated with that program for the rest of his life.

Borning

Jenny Irish’s story collection, Common Ancestor, is forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press in 2017. Her work has appeared in Barrow Street, Catapult, Colorado Review, Epoch, and Ninth Letter. She lives in Tempe, Arizona, where she serves as the Assistant Director of the Creative Program at Arizona State University.

Large Black Landscape

It is black. Black and rearing up; rounded points, pointy points. Black and matted together; plates and plains, lines and radiant circles. Black on black. Black on black on black.

____

Is this a mountain? Mountains? Is this the ocean—all …

Sarah Blackman’s debut novel Hex was released by FC2 in the spring of 2016, and her story collection Mother Box (2013) was the winner of FC2’s 2012 Ronald Sukenick Innovative Fiction Award. Most recently her prose has appeared in Conjunctions, Alaska Quarterly Review, Western Humanities Review, and the Collagist. Co-fiction editor at DIAGRAM and founding editor of Crashtest, an online magazine for high school age writers, Blackman is the director of creative writing at the Fine Arts Center, a public arts magnet school in Greenville, South Carolina, where she lives with the poet John Pursley III and their two daughters.

Ali, Wendy

Zach VandeZande is the author of the forthcoming story collection Lesser American Boys (Queen’s Ferry Press, 2016) and the novel Apathy and Paying Rent (2008). His fiction has appeared in numerous journals, including Ninth Letter, Gettysburg Review, Yemassee, Smokelong Quarterly, Cutbank, Slice Magazine, Atlas Review, and elsewhere. He is an assistant professor at Central Washington University.

On Slaughter and Praying: An Essay in Two Parts

Part One. Before Getting to My Desk 

Before getting to my desk this morning I’ve woken to the back of Luke’s spine in blue light and understood for the first time that is the image I have been dreaming of …

Carol Ann Davis is the author of the poetry collections Psalm (2007) and Atlas Hour (2011), both from Tupelo Press. An NEA Fellow in poetry and a finalist for the National Magazine Award for work in our pages, she has an essay collection (The Nail in the Tree: Essays on Art, Violence, and Parenting) coming out in 2019, also from Tupelo. A professor of English at Fairfield University, Davis lives in Newtown, Connecticut, with her husband and two sons. 

Re-Materialization, Remoteness, and Reverence: A Critique of De-Materialization in Art

Genese Grill holds a BFA from Cooper Union in painting, and an MA and PhD from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York in Germanic literatures and languages. She is the author of The World as Metaphor in Robert Musil’s “The Man without Qualities”: Possibility as Reality (Camden House, 2012) and the translator of a collection of Musil’s short prose, Thought Flights (2015); his short-story collection Unions (2019); and Theater Symptoms: Robert Musil’s Plays and Writings on Theater (forthcoming)—with these three all from Contra Mundum. Her literary essays, translator introductions, and scholarly writing have appeared in The Georgia Review, Numero Cinq (where she is on the masthead as special correspondent), Hyperion: On the Future of Aesthetics, the Missouri Review, and elsewhere. Her completed, as-yet-unpublished collection of essays celebrates the relationship between matter and spirit.

The Slow and Tender Death of Cockroaches

In my beginning is my end.

—T. S. Eliot, “East Coker”

 

I always find them alone. Laid on their backs and clawing at the ceiling, like they were still falling from a too-high place. I find them on the …

Sean P. Smith grew up in Montana and has lived and taught in the Middle East and South Africa. He currently resides in Hong Kong.

Cocktails with Vultures, or, A General Theory of Boredom

David Gessner’s Ultimate Glory, his memoir of his years playing Ultimate Frisbee, is due out in June 2017 from Riverhead Books. He is the author of All the Wild That Remains: Edward Abbey, Wallace Stegner, and the American West (W. W. Norton, 2015), as well as eight other books—among them The Tarball Chronicles (2011), My Green Manifesto (2011), and Sick of Nature (2003). Founder of Ecotone, the literary journal of place, Gessner served as host of the National Geographic Explorer television show, Call of the Wild, which explored how our constant use of screens is damaging our brains and how nature can be restorative.