After a five week delay, this eleventh issue of Conte feels like a belated birthday gift: lazily overdue yet endearingly sweet regardless. We wish we could blame the delay on the numeral itself, but how could the atomic number for sodium, the number of the Apollo moon landing, and the maximum volume on Spinal Tap's ear-splitting Marshall amps be unlucky? Heaven help us when our thirteenth issue rolls around...
Guilt trips and numerology aside, the poems in this installment of Conte are truly remarkable. Colleen Abel opens our issue with "Maid of the Sea," a poem that interrogates the very nature of memory. Adam Houle follows with his lyrical "The Rocks We've Named" before Jim Daniels—one of our favorite contemporary American poets—explores working-class adolescence with equal parts wit and pang. Victoria Anderson and E. Ethelbert Miller offer powerful meditations on aging and race, respectively, that lead into the more surreal work of Stacy Heiney and our old friend Simon Perchik. The great William Hathaway graces us with "Martin Points," an astonishing poem that somehow manages to include both a beer truck and Suleiman The Great, before two radically different narratives by Seattleite Ali Shapiro display her vast range. Last but certainly not least is Brandon Dameshek's "Dean's," a ruminative piece about a small-town corner store that brings us full circle.
Our fiction selections this issue tie together themes of escape, and the lengths we can sprint without knowing quite what we're running toward. Janet McClasky's protagonist slogs through the miasma of a family caught in slow-mo disintegration, trying to break out but finding no exits. Ian Singleton dips his brush into the tumult of the 60s, painting a turbulent prism of action and reaction, as characters struggle to discover to where they're escaping, if indeed they're escaping at all. Ken Womack puts us into the passenger's seat - authentically, even humanely - with one of 20th century America's most notorious figures, while the rest of us sit back and run out of time. W. Bryan Smith leads us down a path of obsession, less troubling for its peculiar nature than for the sheer force of will he imbues it with. Finally, Harry Youtt narrates the tale of a man struggling to shrug off the chains of nightmares - and the distance he'll have to vault to be free of them at last.
So even though the sweltering dog days are behind us, and a few maple leaves have already browned and twirled earthward, and dusk seems to creep on a few minutes earlier every evening, we hope you'll enjoy our eleventh issue of Conte, during this, the final glow of summer.
Robert & Adam