A journal of narrative writing.

We’ve walked under ladders, tossed spilt salt over our right shoulders, and let a clowder of black cats cross our path, and yet here we are, right on time with our thirteenth installment. All the same, our fingers are crossed with the hope that we won’t jinx some of the exciting new changes here at Conte. Starting this summer, we are pleased to offer each issue as a freely downloadable PDF file in addition to streaming audio of select contributors reading their work. Last but certainly not least, we are also thrilled to announce that Ashley Seitz Kramer—our friend, fellow writer, and winner of the prestigious 2010 Ruth Stone Poetry Prize—has joined us as a contributing editor.

Two long centuries ago, the inimitable Wordsworth wrote “the world is too much with us,” yet his warning is a fitting encapsulation of the poems in our summer issue, which all wrestle with our physical, political, and spiritual place on an ever-changing planet. Sheila Black’s bleak but lush pastoral “Fleeing Juarez Exodus Leaves More Than 100,000 Homes Abandoned” kicks things off, followed by two remarkable contributions by Norman Dubie, a true American master and one of our most cherished poets. Next comes Jon Cone’s ethereal “Another Machine to Praise,” followed by the remarkable vividness of Robin Carstensen and Sally Rosen Kindred. Emilia Phillips time-warps us to Frank Zappa’s post-war childhood in the 1940s, while Jessica Cuello sets the controls for the 13th century in her tautly lyrical “The Foot of Montségur.” Reginald Harris’s “Again” gives voice to the voiceless, Erica Stisser and Bruce Weigl both take a long hard look out the window, and Karen Schubert concludes our offering of verse with her visceral monologue “War of Stones.”

Our fiction section begins with an evocative and sober coming-of-age tale by John Riley, “Smoke,” whose emotional resonance lingers like the melancholy scent of its namesake. If there is such a substance as Essence of Narrative, M.V. Montgomery has managed to distill it in “Spring Box,” a collection of dreamy, ephemeral shorts that transport us briefly but entirely to other worlds with one vaporous inhalation. We take a turn for the visceral with Emil DeAndreis' “The Pigs of Hilo”, a heart-pounding careen through a jungle of nightmares, and continue in this vein by letting the soothing whispers and lyrical howls of Dana Reva De Greff's “After the Hunt” seduce us. After an interlude with the perplexing and precocious cast of Brian Allan Ellis' “The Sailboat/Hatchet Painting,” we round out our prose selections with another tale of adolescent isolation, “Scapegoat,” by Laury Egan.

So welcome to this, our baker’s dozen issue of Conte. Grab a sticky bun, an iced mocha, and what small relief you can from the July swelter—we hope you find some stories and poems here to whet your appetite.

Adam, Robert, & Ashley