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Tidal Wave

By Valerie Sayers Short Story

IN THE EARLY DAYS OF INTEGRATION, when only white girls tried out for cheerleader, our elections were a cross between small-town participatory democracy, Soviet-style anointment of the chosen, and the Miss America Pageant. We sat rapt in the bleachers while the candidates cartwheeled in front of the whole school, flashing their white panties. Then we…

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Web Exclusive: A Conversation with Lisa Ampleman

By Mary Kenagy Mitchell Interview

In issue 87, poet Lisa Ampleman reviews three new books by Jericho Brown, Rachel Eliza Griffiths, and Rickey Laurentiis—three African American poets who each write about faith, identity, and injustice in different ways. We asked her to reflect a little on the connection between poetry, empathy, and justice. She was interviewed by Mary Kenagy Mitchell.…

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Racism Lives Here. Does God?

By Lisa Ampleman Book Review

The New Testament by Jericho Brown (Copper Canyon, 2014) Lighting the Shadow by Rachel Eliza Griffiths (Four Way, 2015) Boy with Thorn by Rickey Laurentiis (University of Pittsburgh, 2015) THE YOUTUBE VIDEO starts abruptly. Two Saint Louis symphony-goers stand at their seats, singing “Justice for Mike Brown is justice for us all” to the tune of…

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A Freak of Nature

By Valerie Sayers Short Story

THE FIFTIES. I don’t remember much—I was a small child—but I do know that fear was always buzzing in the background, like static from a transistor radio: a jangly, jazzy fear, not altogether unhappy. The day I discover I’m a freak of nature, the thrill runs from my bellybutton to my throat. We’ve come to…

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Young-Adult Fiction Comes of Age

By Hannah Faith Notess Book Review

The Possibilities of Sainthood by Donna Freitas (Farrar Strauss Giroux, 2008) Dark Sons by Nikki Grimes (Hyperion, 2005) Trouble by Gary Schmidt (Clarion Books, 2008) Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr (Little, Brown, 2009) AS A TEENAGER, I was given several novels in a series of inspirational young-adult (YA) books. On their pastel covers, modestly sweatshirted girls with big hair and…

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Half Like Them

By Roxane Beth Johnson Poetry

Over many years, I have dreamed away my color and turned inside out, like the wet machinery of an orange. I’m all yard; the sycamores are my likeness. Their leaves list like sleeping bats. Hose in hand, I drink as water pours down my Easter dress. Jesus bled to death in front of a crowd…

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A Bookwright’s Tale

By Barry Moser Essay

MY BROTHER SAID that I was a lazy dreamer when I was a kid. In a letter he wrote to me shortly before he died he said that all I did was sit around drawing pictures and reading books while he cut the grass, cleaned out the gutters, and painted the trim on the house. Well,…

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