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The Tragic Sense of Life

By Gregory Wolfe Essay

WHEN I first arrived at Oxford University in the early 1980s to pursue graduate work, I was all swagger on the outside, but that was to conceal the soft center of terror within. I had gone from being a big man on a small Midwestern campus situated between two cornfields to a nobody at an…

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The King’s Great Matter …and Ours

By Gregory Wolfe Essay

THE ROYAL SOAP OPERA that is the life and reign of Henry VIII evokes endless fascination both in the realms of scholarship and the popular imagination. Erudite tomes heavy with footnotes, racy novels the size of toaster ovens, and sumptuously staged television miniseries pour forth in a steady stream. And what’s not to like? For…

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Happiness

By Katherine Soniat Poetry

That evening she painted her nails metallic rose, placed the opal on her finger, and walked down the block to a party in the moss garden. A friend held her hand, getting involved with the milky luminescence of the ring. Before long he was telling her how his uncle loved to float down the river…

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The Wasp on Weddings

By Katy Didden Poetry

Wasp, genus hymenopterae Hymenaeus, the god of weddings These days we gods are diminished things, black winged. I float like the infinitesimal hesitation, the unheard breath after I: “I wasp will.” “I wasp do.” I am the sadness shadowing the speeches of fathers: “Now she’s wasp elegant, wasp a woman.” I’m the one hovering over…

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Before Entering

By Jeanine Hathaway Poetry

—five—six—seven—eight, and one— The dancers drum onstage from the wings where they were before the downbeat, that prehistoric moment, bandaged and flinching, calloused, split, grinning—the tick-swish of soles on bare wood; their presence shifts how light leaps off the watch of the ex-nun’s date. Such sound bodies. Their backs, extraordinary overlaps of muscle bound to…

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A Conversation with Marilyn Nelson

By Jeanne Murray Walker Interview

The daughter of a Tuskegee Airman and a teacher, Marilyn Nelson was brought up primarily on military bases and started writing while still in elementary school. She earned her BA from the University of California, Davis, and holds postgraduate degrees from the University of Pennsylvania (MA, 1970) and the University of Minnesota (PhD, 1979). Her…

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Last Judgment in Ferrara

By Will Wells Poetry

Angels prod seven naked sinners chained together by their crimes. Pigeons mock them with excrement and the flapping of wings while God broods, impassive on his throne. From the marble portico, all gape down as demons stir a vat of the damned and season it with another soul, there on the cathedral’s storybook façade. From…

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Stupid Praise

By Alison Pelegrin Poetry

New Orleans, August 29, 2009 One last Katrina poem, the final praise for what I hated. I quit. No more a guard dog of damaged goods chained in the yard, drinking from tadpole puddles, dragging my doom and gloom down happy streets. I swear. No more damaged goods, watchdog groups, or Katrina’s white flags on…

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On Visiting Carthage

By Jeanine Hathaway Poetry

In high-school Latin, I first read Augustine and wary could not, even threatened by grades, be made to care for his florid rhetoric or thieving of pears. Uphill I trudge from the Antonine baths Augustine must have known. The basement remains where puddles reflect fallen columns, their leafy capitals upside down. A corner maquette under…

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