Nonfiction, The Conglomerate
Spencer Hupp

These lines work because memory and love, respectively, are (to put it mildly) fraught, and overburdened with assumptions. Cruelty, when deployed with this kind of uncompromising, declarative honesty, evades cliché. And this cruelty is often mitigated by moments of uncanny grace.

Melissa Febos

We drove home in silence. I don’t know if we had a conversation about trust that night. We’d had them so many times before, my mother trying to broker an understanding, to cast a single line across the distance between us. If trust was broken, my mother explained, it had to be rebuilt. But the sanctity of our trust held no currency with me, so broken trust came to mean the loss of certain freedoms. She didn’t want to revoke my privileges; she wanted me to come home to her. Probably, I knew this. If she didn’t like the distance my lies created, then she would like even less my silence and sulks, my slammed bedroom door. Of course I won these battles. We each had something the other wanted, but I alone had conviction.

Carl Phillips

Though the city itself has long since
been smashed up and plundered for anything left
worth plundering,
                             the walls that surrounded it
stand unbroken, still, as if war—like time,
technically—didn’t really exist. Can time exist, if it’s
just an understanding?

The Sewanee Review

It is generally acknowledged that where words fail, music succeeds. The great conductor Sir Thomas Beecham went so far as to describe music as “A respite, however brief, from the tyranny of conscious thought.” This maxim proved true until about a year ago, when I first encountered the fiction of Allan Gurganus.

Jason Brown

The day before my sister’s pretend wedding, the family gathered in Maine for our annual meeting, at my grandfather’s island house, so he could tell us how much of a disappointment we’d been.

Olena Kalytiak Davis

beauty brought not what beauty thought i’d bring
i styled not One but Two enduring things

Craft Lecture
Mary Ruefle

In early spring, in Croatia, old men and young men get up in the dark and get dressed in sheepskins, they don huge sheep- skin masks and around their waists they tie giant sheep-bells. They proceed to parade through remote villages, making a racket.

Spencer Hupp

The recognition that things go on, that life continues in its cycling from season to season, from sunrise to sunset, is the barest form of optimism, the only sure hope, the kind of hope most worth our trust.

Heather McHugh

During his travels in the late 1740s, the botanist and zoologist Carl Linnaeus had the opportunity to closely examine several monkeys. In comparing their anatomies to those of men, he found no differences except for speech. So man and monkey both wound up under the same category in his taxonomic scheme: Anthropomorpha.

A. E. Stallings

How the tattooed day-trippers nearly trampled them like flotsam, not blossoms,
How it was illegal to pick them on Santorini, yet matrons gathered bouquets of      them to their black-clad bosoms.
How beside the seaside parking lot, in a moon-bleached waste,
They seem both dissolute and chaste.

Dan Chiasson

The most obvious thing that distinguishes poetry from prose is that it breaks lines. It starts over fresh in the left margin. It’s invested in beginnings. One could argue that a novel, for all its meaningful digressions and complexities of plot, has one beginning and one ending. A poem is willed ending and willed opening over and over again.

Fabio Pusterla

Eternal, the afternoon. Relentless,
the sheep-in-clouds sky.
Relentless, the games.

John Psaropoulos

As Europe devised a series of policies designed to discourage asylum-seekers and drove down the number of attempted crossings, the death rate again climbed to nearly 2 percent. The inescapable conclusion seems to be that the more we protect our borders from irregular migration, the more desperate we make those who are determined to cross.

Ben Austen

What he enjoyed most about the site was connecting with people from childhood he hadn’t seen in years. And yet he wasn’t ready to accept my request. “Before I broadcast to the world via my 2,100 Facebook friends that you and I are ‘friends,’” he said, “I need to get something off my chest.”

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