“The Missouri Review is, quite simply, one of the best literary journals in the world." —Robert Olen Butler
Install Theme


A better articulated message. Thank you, othernotebooksareavailable, for thinking critically. 


We do not recommend this either.



A better articulated message. Thank you, othernotebooksareavailable, for thinking critically. 


We do not recommend this either.

A few rules-of-thumb prevail in successfully landing one of these coveted spots. Especially when you’re first seeking an invitation or award—because colonies and residencies are indeed fellowships, ones you’ll proudly list on CVs and bios—you’ll increase your chances if you apply to the mid-list first. Renowned, fully-funded colonies like MacDowell and Yaddo receive huge numbers of applicants from the U.S. and overseas; they are the Ivy Leagues of the colony world, but there are numerous other well-regarded places where you’ll get the supportive environment you seek to further your project. You’ll also establish your reputation as a congenial resident—someone with a colony one or two listed per year on their application is likely to stand out to selection committees, i.e., “She’s been invited to the Anderson Center and twice to Ragdale. Since then she’s landed her first book contract, so evidently she’s a diligent worker who uses her time well. Her recommender assures us she’s of high character. Let’s invite her to come.”

Vanessa Blakeslee, Apologia for Being a Colony Addict

"EXT. – DAY Judd Nelson puts a cheerleader’s diamond stud in his ear, walks across a football field, and has his fingerless-leather-gloved fist freeze framed defiantly in the air. Thus ends The Breakfast Club…but not before Simple Minds’ Don’t You (Forget About Me) swells on the soundtrack, capping one of the most important films of the 80s with an iconic musical moment that’s still putting smiles on people’s faces to this day. Unfortunately, that’s the only tune by Simple Minds that very many people not from Scotland are aware of, which is a shame…because they did some great work. Among that is is this energetic/futuristic instrumental track, included here as a nod to the resilience and vitality of Hiroshima.”

Wes Hazard, “So You’re Picking up Kenzaburo Oe From the Airport”

(Source: Spotify)

A fabulous reader makes any and all sins forgivable. Of course, if you’ve never heard the author read from her/his work before, you won’t really know until thirty seconds into the reading. Everyone is there for the reader, and if the reader delivers, nothing else really matters.
Running enhances creativity. I’m not exaggerating when I say that the majority of my ideas for both critical essays and creative pieces come to me while I’m running (predictably, this very post was born and three-fourths conceptualized somewhere between miles six and seven). Running forces you to cleanse your mind of distractions – no Facebook, email, or unwatched episodes of House of Cards; no dishes that need washing or piles of other work in need of attention – it’s just you and your thoughts. Running affords those meeker but nonetheless valuable ideas an opportunity to be heard; the fun part is when those latent thoughts combine, contrast, and interact with other ideas in new and compelling ways
In my publishing class last week, we had our fourth and final Skype conversation. We spoke to Dave Housley, one of the founding editors of Barrelhouse. Like many independent literary magazines, Barrelhouse was founded on the premise of “Well, why not?” when five friends, after weeks of talking about it, decided at a bar (hooray, beers!) to start a magazine.
But If I’ve learned anything in prison, I’ve learned to expect the worst. And that’s what I got. The worst. Three hundred and twenty pounds of train wreck, to be exact.

Remember those blue irises I’d left for years?

You dug them out with Sean’s big fork,
then left them on the grass for me to split.

After you’d gone I wrenched and tore.
Got nowhere, gave up struggling, fetched the spade.

That mat of yellow roots, the slicing blade,
the last despairing heave, the rain of soil—

the shock still live and scorching through my flesh.

— Last week’s poem of the week was Kerry Hardie’s “Watching the Fire Take Your Body

I’m certainly not the only one who found studying some of the greatest works of literature in school to be one of the biggest tortures a 14 year old could endure because if you tell someone what is good and why they should think it’s good a lot of people are going to do the opposite. The only way I came to love most literature was when I thought I had found it for myself and the same happened with short stories.
Writing programs are implicitly encouraging a career path of indentured servitude, and in good conscience, I don’t see how we can continue to hoodwink students with this “time to write” nonsense when the writing program culture encourages professionalized poverty. A graduate writing degree is the beginning, not the end, of a writer’s education. And maybe the first of the beginning lessons is to treat that culture with suspicion.
If I called to you now. If I carried your name to the skateparks
and railroad temples of rust, would you come to me, brother,
wherever you are in your faded arrangements,
your growing away from the past? Would you lie with me here
in the shore-grass, watching the college boys paint
the gazebo, the endless advance and retreat of the sea?
I’m trying to imagine us back to our origins.
Skitching the Friday night dump truck in Moorhead,
shoplifting soft packs of Camel Lights,
kicking our boards through the rodeo crowds at the fair,
searching the beer tent for half-finished bottles of High Life,
for cigarette butts in the ashtrays, for lighters,
for dime bags and dollar bills left on the tables, for anything
other than home. We were saved from oblivion once.
Slack in the shoulder blades. Climbing the roofs
of the for-sale houses in Dundas, diving off chimney tops,
ladder rungs, letting our bodies go limp in the arms
of the pines. And here on the fog-covered beach in Bolinas
a girl is rolling her jeans up, gathering seashells and green-tinted nuggets
of sea glass, letting the high water circle
her knees. I watch her approach in the rippled light, lifting a sand dollar,
lost in the sound. I can almost see light falling out
of her body, the space where the sea-wind is too shy
to touch her, too embarrassed to run itself
under her shirt. What grainy, impossible dreams
used to guide us? What wildernesses burned on the vacated stages
and bankrupt resorts of our brains?
Anders, we get old. We divide ourselves up into seasons,
digressions, failed attractions, glorified versions
of jaded and lost men we promised
to never become. Do you remember the Indian
selling us dusters and turtle skulls under the bridge?
And watching the staged reenactment at sunset, the overgroomed horses
and amplified pleadings of Heywood refusing
to open the safe. Refusing to hear what it meant
they would do to him—carving an X in his collarbone,
cracking his skull with the butt of a gun.
The teller lying dead in a puddle of blood
beside him. The sound of the bullet that ripped off his ear,
more a physical weight than a sound, a texture of things
growing suddenly far away, fattening, filled with a needling buzz.
The ease with which he could picture those three
silent numbers, floating like neon-lit billboards against
the darkening lids of his eyes. Really just simple
abstractions, marks on a chalkboard, lines in a ledger that nobody else,
besides himself and the wealthy proprietor
who sometimes stopped in on Sundays
with his twin boys to look at the weekly reports,
could read. Do you remember the way the horses were trained
to carefully lower their heads, to give us the softest part of their jaws,
regardless of whether we carefully touched them
or offered them handfuls of grain? And do you remember
the way we discovered the Indian,
slumped in the willow-reeds, dotted with secondhand light
from the Tilt-A-Whirl sign, sniffing a milk gallon,
laughing at shapes in the overhung ceiling of leaves?
How we were able to recognize the irony,
even then. And even more than the irony, the inevitability
of all things defined by their pasts, by duties that outlive
the vanishing crowds, their instruments measuring
dust. And how you approached him again
as a stranger, and sat at the base of the willow tree,
pressing your nose to the outheld mouth of the jug.
And the river crawled off in a fever of lights
and the music was suddenly clear. Anders, come rest with me here
in the shore-grass, leaning away from the wind.
Enough of these shivers and reverent symbols,
these crab shells and wind-whitened rails
of sand. I want you to walk with this young girl
in silence, speak to her only in footprints, in subtler signs
she can read in the foam, explain to her how we erase ourselves
knowingly, hands outstretched to the sound of it passing us,
letting the riders ride in. The way you became
this ridiculous whisper, sky growing vague in a cover of fog—
whatever description, assemblage of passages,
memories left to the dead. And what do we feel now,
watching the years float slowly by, as if in the skin
of another man? What do we find in the comfort
of time’s absent shadow? Shooting our guns
at the city-born crows. Chucking our bricks at the immigrant carp
in the backwater next to the dam. Look, we are losing ourselves
to the waves. Faltering after it. Claiming or trying to reclaim
the inventions. Wishing for, naming the magic away.
Tell me, what fissures, what twinkling dimples of light
came spiraling out of your face? As the cries
of the fairgoers danced on the water,
and the actor who played Jesse James for the weekend
went down to the beer tent, took off his holster,
his button-up chaps, his handgun that only
shot blanks, and danced to the fiddle and lap-steel guitar,
to the rhythmless crowd, and the hollowed-out sound of the bullet
that still seemed to ring in the streets, that will ring there forever,
in the unopened vault, in the scattered remains of an ear.

— Our poem of the week is Kai Carlson-Wee’s “Jesse James Days

"At 24, suffocated by the prejudices attendant to being  a gay black man in America James Baldwin left for France. He’d live there on and off for the rest of his life (referring to himself as a “Trans-Atlantic Commuter”) and it was there that it was able to pause, breathe, and explore himself beyond the “negro” label forced upon him in his country of birth. All that’s to say that at least one francophone track is essential for this playlist and I can’t think of a better one than the unbounded energy and joy of this Yacht rework of an avante-garde Brigitte Fontaine track. I don’t care how bad your day’s been, it’s impossible to not crack a smile and move to this one.”

Wes Hazard, “So You’re Picking Up James Baldwin From the Airport”

(Source: Spotify)

I guess there’s a lot of sabotage, self-degradation, and self-aggrandizement that needs to happen in order to really make a poem happen.

Things I find unsettling –

A brain coral – no, an actual brain, the folds of gray matter
unraveling through a sleeve underwater –

The gutter, a lake of no respect –

Are you a lifer – schadenfreude-laced exchange
at the speed of its antidote, a confession or apology –

A suspicious package at the local airport,
milled palm-oil soap called green tea –

Carry me, cries a stranger, mispronouncing my name –

— Last week’s poem of the week was Karen An-hwei Lee’s “X Is For Xenophobia

The lack of money is the biggest killer of literary magazines. Making my students aware of it is critical.