In every fall issue we celebrate and publish the winning story from the year’s Nelligan Prize for Short Fiction, established to honor the memory of writer, scholar, and literary editor Liza Nelligan, an alumna of Colorado State University’s English Department. In this issue, we are delighted to present the prize’s sixteenth winner, Bryna Cofrin-Shaw’s “Loss and Damage,” selected by Joan Silber. Of this fine piece Silber writes: “What a joy this story is. How many writers could turn a conference on climate change into a very smart tale of sexual intrigue? It has ideas (all too rare in fiction), irony so good it’s unexpected, and great characters.” It’s a story that’s both fresh and timely, and we’re truly pleased to feature it.
Among the issue’s other short stories, Mary Grimm’s “Sisters,” set in 1930s Cleveland, contends with the choices and opportunities available to women of that era, in particular, the four daughters of an Eastern European immigrant. The narrator of Oindrila Mukherjee’s “Greetings,” an immigrant to the us from India still grieving a painful loss, tries to form connections while navigating the ironies of her new home’s conversational conventions. And in Franz Jørgen Neumann’s “Sweet Toes,” a young woman exploring the edges of adulthood becomes caught up in her friend’s marital troubles.
Returning to Colorado Review with a new essay, “Roadmap,” longtime contributor Bill Capossere looks at the history of maps, his lifelong fascination with them, and various excursions—imagined and real—gone awry. And in “Portrait on Metal with Patterned Scarf and Streak of Light,” Jehanne Dubrow contemplates perceptions of beauty and aging through the photographic lens.
As always, it’s a rich and bountiful gathering of writers and writing assembled in these pages, and we warmly welcome you to the table and the conversation.
There’s been a lot of passing over to the other side recently—the poet and open-hearted gadfly Kevin Killian; the American treasure Mary Oliver; the Australian giant Les Murray; just now, the poet and jazz musician Steve Dalachinsky; and this past spring, the American poet Stanley Plumly. They are passing from our lives.
Plumly was very important to me early on, before I could even call myself a poet. His books Out-of-the-Body Travel and Summer Celestial perfected a kind of pure lyric that moved me deeply, especially as a way of writing about family, and from memory. If now the poems feel a bit decorous I still feel a kind of moral force in their reckonings of memory. More perhaps than the poems, his criticism taught me to listen through the poem, to ask, “Where is this poem calling from? And where is it calling to?” An emotional listening akin in some ways to Emerson’s creative reading, it’s a question I still pose to myself.
To echo a line from Plumly’s “Posthumous Keats”—“a gold conglomerate of detail”—this issue’s harvest of poetry riches glows, light and dark. We open with the passing of time now—“you pull the tassel down to you” (Michael Anania)—and then—Peter Balakian’s fever dream of Constantinople in 1915: “O spun embroidery . . . the gold threads along the Bosphorus.” There’s a thin veil between us and the other side: Joseph Harrington’s ethnography of ghosts; Su Cho’s secret transmission from her grandma; Benjamin S. Grossberg’s secret transmission from his grandmother; and darkness pressures the pot—“The motors go. / The guns go off. The postal / flags ablaze this sudden / summer season” (Lorna Dee Cervantes). The body feels exposed, frangible (Hadara Bar-Nadav, Simon Perchik), and the outside’s invading the inside (Indrani Sengupta, Kenneth Robert Chacón). There’s a new tang of surrealism in the poems of this issue, which makes sense as our dark zeitgeist gusts toward election season.
Perhaps most emphatically, there is Khaled Mattawa’s extraordinary long poem “Face,” which looks unflinchingly at and for the millions of displaced Palestinians dangling in increasing uncertainty: “How did you die? / Who buried you and how? . . . Do lavender and clematis still shoot out of your remains?” And later, “When—after the long wait—you come / to rescue me, love, the million plus / will be my selves, my others.” May we all join hands, faces.
Featured in This Issue
Michael Anania, Peter Balakian, Hadara Bar-Nadav, Bruce Bond, TR Brady, Bill Capossere, Lorna Dee Cervantes, Kenneth Robert Chacón, Su Cho, Charlie Clark, Bryna Cofrin-Shaw, Dorsey Craft, Cynthia Cruz, Anthony DiPietro, Jehanne Dubrow, Ben Evans, Mary Grimm, Benjamin Grossberg, Joseph Harrington, Emma Hine, Walt Hunter, Dorine Jennette, Whitney Kerutis, Daniel Lassell, Khaled Mattawa, Oindrila Mukherjee, Sawako Nakayasu, Franz Jørgen Neumann, Simon Perchik, Douglas Piccinnini, Paige Quiñones, Linda V. Russo, Nicholas Samaras, Siobhán Scarry, Indrani Sengupta, Connor Simons, John Yau