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PoetryMay 19, 2024

“Everything only connected by ‘and’ and ‘and’”: On Elizabeth Bishop and Disappointment

In prose that’s erudite and accessible, former Editor-in-Chief of At Length, Jonathan Farmer, explores why “[s]o many of Elizabeth Bishop’s poems end with something audibly, willfully unsatisfying.” Covering Bishop’s career from “The Map” (1946) to her late elegy for Robert Lowell, “North Haven” (1977), Farmer’s claim will send you back to Bishop’s poems with new eyes.

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ProseOctober 16, 2019

August, November, January

“All I know is every day I don’t get in the woods I feel I’ve betrayed my own birth,” writes Thorpe Moeckel in his new book, Down by the Eno, Down by the Haw . “As if I owe my birth a thing, some gratitude.”

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Mary Jane Zapp

ProseOctober 11, 2018

Keep Fast Hold of Your Parents

I laid my victim cards before Mary Jane, one by one, like I had a Tarot pack: “See this!” and ”See this!” and “See that!” Just as I got to the part about my mother, some egregious slight of hers I thought worthy of justifiable anger, Mary Jane stopped me. Mid-sentence. “Your job,” she said, “is to leave other people alone.” An excerpt from poet Spencer Reece ‘s memoir, The Little Entrance: Devotions.

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ProseOctober 24, 2016


“To lift and see my hands. To see my elbows in a headstand. There went the earth, pressed down. There I went, up from what was dragging me.” A new essay on surprise, yoga, shooting, and writing from Colette LaBouff.

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ProseAugust 15, 2016

An Arsenal of Sand

“Anger in our family was like the water: it had to go somewhere. Rise up, sink down, or burst everywhere at once.” An excerpt from Angela Palm‘s Riverine: A Memoir from Anywhere but Here.

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ProseOctober 26, 2015

Ghost in the Graveyard

“I put the shovel into the ground, stepped down, and turned the earth loose like he had shown me.” Dating an outdoorsy type gets strange in a short story by Tayler Heuston.

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ProseSeptember 21, 2015

The Vise

“When he looked up, everyone was staring at him. There was no talking during dinner, just the impressive sound of many forks and knives being utilized at once.” After his father’s death and mother’s breakdown, a young boy is taken to stay with relatives in this excerpt from Lori Ostlund‘s debut novel, After the Parade.

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ProseSeptember 3, 2015

Where Judges Walk

“They squeezed their mouths tight against wheeling cinders, moustaches gathering bits of ash. Letters to post, women to find. Laudanum, too. Pay stubs!—now that would soothe an ache.” Timber workers travel from the forest into town in this excerpt from Matthew Neill Null‘s debut novel, Honey from the Lion.

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ProseMay 4, 2015

Farthing Street

“I lose words, become silent as a conservation of energy, stare at things as if they hold me upright,” writes essayist Trace Ramsey in this exploration of paternal postnatal depression and recovery. “Having a new child magnifies all of this to levels I never thought could exist.”

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ProseJanuary 21, 2015

A Magic of Bags

“Sometimes, she was sure of it: she would create no family, no children, nothing but herself.” A teenage misfit makes her way in Harlem in “A Magic of Bags,” a story from Mecca Jamilah Sullivan’s forthcoming collection, Blue Talk and Love.

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ProseOctober 22, 2013

The Long Life Hotel

“She felt an inkling—just the faintest tingle—then, of something gone wrong inside her; a small, vile thing, just beginning to grow.” A mother travels to Vietnam for a favorite son’s wedding in a story by Meaghan Mulholland.

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ProseAugust 19, 2013

The Big Father Essay

“Whenever I peeked into his room at night, there he lay, open-mouthed, those frightening white feet kicked free of sheets.” Inspired by Joe Brainard, Jeff Oaks invents a form for generating truths.

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ProseJune 11, 2013

The Sea Palaces

“Before Liberation, emperors had idled there, among pleasure grounds of lakes and pavilions, and it was said you couldn’t look directly into its gates or your vision would blur.” Third Daughter is recruited for a ballroom dance troupe at the home of the Chairman in this excerpt from Vanessa Hua’s novel-in-progress.

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ProseFebruary 12, 2013

Ghosts of the Mississippi

“Their affection, any love—good or bad—had me. I was the fool for love.” Ben Miller remembers his induction into an exclusive, eccentric group of writers in the prologue to his forthcoming book, River Bend Chronicle: The Junkification of a Boyhood Idyll amid the Curious Glory of Urban Iowa.

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ProseDecember 23, 2012


“Our stories delight us intensely, yet often fail us, or come to an end.” An excerpt from The Beauty Experiment, a new memoir by Phoebe Baker Hyde.

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