A journal of narrative writing.

A belated Happy New Year from Conte, dear reader! We hope these early weeks of 2011 have been good to you, even if you gained a stone from all the holiday munching. Though our fourteenth installment was delayed a fortnight or two, we're thrilled that this winter issue of Conte now graces the screen of your digital whatever.

The inimitable William Hathaway begins our poetry selections with his rollicking "Sun Flares," which gives way to Judith H. Montgomery's sonorous and somber "Induration." The great Robert Wrigley follows with two ruminative meditations before Charles Harper Webb's "What Ails Him" takes a turn for the surreal. A pair of poems by George Eklund's are a study in narrative compression before Jenn Blair and Julie L. Moore proffer a pair of elegies full of ache, grace, and acquiescence. John Davis's terse "Travelers" drops us in the mudflat, Steve Healey's "Parts of Nowhere" is one of our favorite parts, and Leonore Wilson's "What the Grasses Wear" is a lush yet apprehensive pastoral. Finally, we end this issue's verses with Christopher Munde's hauntingly elliptical "The Seams" and Katherine Riegel's ambitious lyrical sequence "Years Like Rows of Corn."

Perhaps fittingly, our fictions centers around perserverence during sometimes unspeakably adversity. Leading the pack is Celena Hill, who mixes body horror with lurking pangs of existential dread in "The Kidney." Dolan Morgan's "Labyrinthitis" blends science and the American midwest to grow a mind-expanding meditation. In "Christmas '56," Andre Kocsis details one family's struggle to crawl out from under an oppressor's boot, while Tunji Ajibade leads us on an exhaustive attempt to travel up the ladder of power in "Chairman Popo." Lastly, for all humanity's prediliction for self-oppression, we find ourelves heeling to a new master race in Connley Landers' "The Frog Strangler."

Through six years and fourteen issues, Conte has never veered into the political, and we're not going to start veering now. But we'd be heartlessly remiss not to acknowledge that this winter issue comes on the heels of a tragedy that has much of the world still reeling. It is at times such as these, dire and tragic as they are, that we are baptized anew in the healing waters of song and story. Our choir is warming up. We will try not to sing out of key.

Adam, Robert, & Ashley