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Kevin Fedarko

Early in my career, lusting as I was to become a literary light in the nonfiction world, I realized that I desperately needed the services of a mentor. I imagined a sort of a cross between an Oxford don, a Jesuit spiritual advisor, and Dr. Phil – an uber-mentor in my mind’s eye. I pictured this person in very specific terms.

Isabella Tangherlini

My name is Isabella Tangherlini, I am twenty years old, and I used to be an internet troll. It sounds like something you’d hear at a group therapy session with a twelve-step program, or maybe an episode of Dr. Phil. Either way, it’s not a very good way to introduce a person, or an essay.

Neil Shepard

He’s been sober now for decades, but in the early days of his teaching career, when I was his student, he was deep into the destructive work of booze. It was a time when the ampersand was intentional & historical, Beat shorthand for every slow, tired “and” anchored to old times.

Clinton Crockett Peters

There was always Montaigne. “Of Cannibals.” “Of Drunkenness.” “Upon Some Verses of Virgil.” The stranglehold of imperialism. Books. Thumbs. Dead fathers.

Cheryl Wilder with Suzanne Farrell Smith

Sin. Such a little word. Our lips are drawn together as the hiss of s escapes the lungs, struggling between teeth and tongue through friction. Ssss—the serpent’s sound.

Suzanne Farrell Smith with Cheryl Wilder

Suzanne Farrell Smith shows us her green-eyed monster and wants us to hold a mirror to ours.

Cheryl Wilder

Sloth, real Sloth, is easy to recognize. Greasy hair, potato chip crumbles down the shirt, dirty dishes stacked at the sink and on the coffee table.

Suzanne Farrell Smith

There are days when I so badly want to write, that I think I could put my infant son in his crib, close the nursery door, and let him wile away the day so I could surrender to my urge. I don’t. Of course I don’t. But sometimes I think I could.

Cheryl Wilder with Suzanne Farrell Smith

While studying poetry as an undergraduate in UNC Wilmington’s Creative Writing program, I became obsessed with line breaks. I marveled at how the decision to move a word from one line to the next created suspense and anticipation in the poem. I was in love.

Suzanne Farrell Smith with Cheryl Wilder

“Greed” comes easy to the tongue. Elizabeth Warren spoke at the Democratic National Convention about decades-old “corrosive Greed” reincarnated today in billionaires with Cayman Islands tax shelters.

Suzanne Farrell Smith with Cheryl Wilder

Wrath doesn’t sound fierce enough for its meaning. It starts with a liquid consonant and ends with a breeze through the teeth, and it’s comprised of a single syllable that contains the first vowel sound we teach to children.

Cheryl Wilder with Suzanne Farrell Smith

I needed to be heard.

I was in the fifth grade in 1984, when missing children—almost always dead children—stared at me from the milk carton as I ate my breakfast.

Toni Mirosevich

Whatever time it is—morning, noon, or long into the night—our neighbor lady is always three sheets to the wind. Maybe four. We’re out in the front yard trying to dig a hole in the rock-hard ground to plant our first rose bush. A week ago my wife and I moved from our over-priced, cramped—enough already […]

Patrick Ross

I catch up with her a few minutes later. She is shaded under a vine-covered trellis, standing precariously several feet up on the edge of a fountain. It appears she’s trying to capture a close-up of a cherub pouring water. She’s resting her left hand on the wet stone behind the cherub, and I imagine several scenarios that have in common a disastrous ending.

Stefani Zellmer

I meet Tracy because she has a fuckable brother, according to Kristen. Tracy and her brother Trent go to Bishop Lynch. Kristen and I go to Liberty. They wear uniforms and study Theology. We wear whatever we want and don’t know what Theology is. At least I don’t, and I’m embarrassed for not knowing so I don’t ask.

Sara Kocek

When she finally comes down the escalator, I feel like flushing myself down a toilet. I knew she was going to be pretty, but not that pretty. People standing around the baggage carousel follow her with their eyes like flowers turning toward the sun.

Debra Rook

Cypress, rust-water thick, knees knocking against each other in clumps of billowing muck. Snakes tangled like cut ropes looped by the current. Broad black mud with a stink so sweet you gather why the gators and deer and bear wallow in it.

Bruce Smith

1. The donée is the unasked for, the inescapable thing that is given to
you. For Lowell it was history, for Berryman it was the Freudian myth of
the Id, for Hughes it was forms of blackness, for Dickinson it was
devotion and skepticism. What is your donée?

Bruce Smith

1. Poems – lingering and leaping.
I imagine twelve poems of depth and vision, beautiful shapes and
astonishing revisions. One assigned poem that will break us into a kind
of sobbing joy. There are no assignments, per se, but the Exemplars are
there to be used as music to play towards.

Sandra Nickel

Lorna had never had a single sleepless night or nagging intuition about Clairmont. For as long as she could remember, she couldn’t wait to turn thirteen, so she could go there. She’d hop on a plane in New York City. Step off in Switzerland. And head to the old Abbey her great-grandmother turned into a school, high up on a cliff above Lake Geneva.

Jessica Melilli-Hand

The first three rosaries that ever were were black black
for grief for beauty for burnt mustard seeds and what the smoke released.
Some say the threads snapped when God and Lucifer played tug-of-war,
best two out of three. Some say God never was…

Peter Cooley

There’s no way you can see all six at once.
Even walking around them, they’re too much again.
Today, as always, I fasten on just one.

Peter Cooley

Dead singularity of all things seen

in isolation, —

I take one sculpture with me this morning.

Peter Cooley

Crossing the God-line, I am in a space,
I tell myself,–lying–I made myself.
It’s always new, there’s always this re-birth
so long as I remember why I’m here

Mary Fitzpatrick

On this walk
the bones of the beach

glow. They choose their light
from moon’s candle…

Lauren Hilger

I as Leda loved you,

we had read the myth,

with indecorum…

Lauren Hilger

Tolstoy is in the cold of Madison Avenue, Christmas lit.
Still a scent of horses, men in ties, a marble intensity.

Pigeons come too close,
scatter wind off the wing
and lovelessness.

Cody Todd

In America, it is always
the car and the road, the gun
and the girl, the grasp beating the reach,
the inevitable death in a bank vault.

Susan Cohen

In gorges, gibbons howled and Li Po
drank the wine of wandering.
Forever drunk, I face rock-born moon, he sang

Harold Whit Williams

Some evenings, it’s the Tejano thump from a Chevy
Tricked-out, all lowdown & shit, slow slinking up

Our dead tree street, reverberating the 120 bpm
Into our thin-walled fifties bungalow. Other times

Harold Whit Williams

I’ve been paying more & more attention to all the voices
Inside my head – the Swedish chef Muppet; Faulkner reading

Short stories in 1958, pie-pen-dih-culah & plant-ay-shun;