Longtime readers of Colorado Review have come to know the fall issue for featuring the winning story from the Nelligan Prize for Short Fiction. We are so pleased to showcase this year’s winner, Mike Murray’s “Night Owls,” selected by final judge Ramona Ausubel. Of this story, Ausubel writes: “ ‘Night Owls’ takes place in the darkness—characters are hiding, sneaking, and seeking. I found myself squinting as I read, trying to see through the murk to decipher which things were pure and which were depraved, which were evidence of love, which destruction. Mike Murray never turns the lights on, and this forces us to come in close, so close that we join the story and become part of the search, part of the collapse. Dear reader, is this a theft or a gift? Do you see the birds in the blackness? Do you see goodness or depravity? Let’s look together.”

In this issue, we also have new fiction from previous CR contributor Jessica Treadway, “Cliché,” in which a woman blindsided by her husband’s betrayal finds life without him, in the fracture, surprisingly liberating. C. L. Brenton’s “Mothers of Daughters, and Their Mothers Too” similarly explores the independence resulting from family rupture as a couple discover they do not share the same desire to become parents. And in Ethan Chatagnier’s “The Small Alarm,” an American woman working in a German art museum must reevaluate her life when she finds that she is more compelled by her feelings for art than for her fiancé.

Julie Marie Wade returns to CR with “The Laundry,” a coming-of-age essay that traces the fissures in her relationship with her mother to the rebellious act of laundering her own clothes. Sandy Robertson’s AWP Intro Journals Project–winning essay, “If You Weren’t There,” revisits late-1960s political upheaval in Spain, Mexico, and Berkeley, California, and the disconnect between what was often reported (or not) and what those on the ground witnessed. And in “More than Water,” a moving, single-paragraph lyric essay/cri de coeur, Evan J. Massey threads together a legacy of floods, climate change, water pollution, and environmental racism.

Fissure, fracture, rupture, collapse: things are falling apart in this issue—sometimes mending, sometimes not; sometimes becoming something different, perhaps better, often not. But there is always value in the close looking. As Ramona Ausubel invites us: Let’s become part of the search. Let’s look together.

Stephanie G’schwind


Is it me? Is it you? Is it the hominid us? In the immortal words of Stephen Stills, “There’s something happening here / but what it is ain’t exactly clear.” The menace of the everyday, or the confusion of others with threat, everyone on guard, en route, or wary of leaving the house: “There is / beauty and there is destruction, / QED, said the journalist // when the ruckus abated” (Athena Kildegaard). Or “i cannot explain how the fires / in my synapses fizzle as yours / explode into song” (Amy M. Alvarez). Or “I could see / at last that the live oaks formed / a single gigantic birth canal / through which lights and houses / were arriving” (Nick Rattner). It’s spooky out there and in here.

Welcome to Colorado Review’s Fall/Winter 2022 poetry gathering. This issue finds us, winter-gloved, mismatched, with parts of normalcy beginning to appear, and with gaps in them, the parts I mean, the new normal, partly. Locally, globally, “Where did my limbs go? They thought / of a girl carrying my name far away” (Jieyan Wang). But there are glittering ecologies (Christopher Kazar Janigian), odes and centos (Julia Thacker), found sonnets (Keith Waldrop), hymns (Pam Rehm), procedures (Eva Heisler, Athena Kildegaard), adventures (Norman Finkelstein), historic arrivals (Lis Sanchez), and historical reminders (Huan He) to fill in the gaps we are missing: “It is in your mouth that I search for words on the tip of my / tongue. Words that even in the dark could throw a shadow” (Rosmarie Waldrop).

Matthew Cooperman

Featured in This Issue

Amy M. Alvarez, C. L. Brenton, Samuel Burt, Ethan Chatagnier, Joanne Diaz, Norman Finkelstein, Huan He, Eva Heisler, Christopher Kazar Janigian, Athena Kildegaard, Lisa Ludden, Evan J. Massey, Mike Murray, Phyllis Peters, Supritha Rajan, Nick Rattner, Pam Rehm, Kylan Rice, Sandy Robertson, Lis Sanchez, Julia Thacker, Andrew R. Touhy, Jessica Treadway, Matthew Tuckner, Julie Marie Wade, Keith Waldrop, Rosmarie Waldrop, Jieyan Wang

Select Pieces from This Issue