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Writing your way into college

Bard College announced this week that it was introducing a new admissions option for prospective students, one devoid of GPAs, test scores, and other stone-cold metrics that, some say, do little to represent a complete human being or how well they’ll actually do in college. Starting next year, smart high schoolers who might not look [...]

The problem with academia — in pictures

The problems facing academia today — a growing adjunct labor force, shrinking opportunities for tenure and secure employment, lack of benefits and below-poverty wages — are hardly breaking news. But it’s alarming to see the situation presented so clearly as in the infographic below. Take a moment to consider the facts. It’s a story playing [...]

You don’t need to study the arts. Or do you?

He was the last person you’d expect to say that people don’t need to study the humanities. He’s made an entire career out of them — as an educator, as an organizer of public programs, and as a widely published essayist and literary critic. But a little more than a week ago, over a couple [...]

I’ll cut to the chase: I’m looking for a job. Specifically, a writing job, or at the very least, one that involves words in one way or another. This could include editing, ghostwriting, or even social media. It’s a depressing process, and I’ll explain why in a moment. But before I do, let me just [...]

Becoming better writers via social media

Some people (i.e. me) often complain that social media is ruining our attention to detail and appreciation for the craft of good writing. You can just throw something up (double-entendre totally intended) and go back to whatever else you’re doing on those eight other windows you have open in your Web browser. Punctuation? No time! [...]

This week a package arrived in the mail: a set of bookends made from a pair of 31-year-old Etonic running shoes. They were my father’s first pair, purchased in 1982 for $32. He put nearly 500 miles on them, thus beginning a decade-long love affair with running that gave him something he didn’t get anywhere [...]

The Church of Poetry

There is something wrong in the World of Poetry (of course, something’s always wrong, which is part of the fun).We quibble over doctrinal disputes like the institution we love to hate: the Church. How many recovering Catholics, or any denomination, have found refuge now in the Church of Poetry, this “better scripture”? Yet if we [...]

Why Joanie runs

You never know when someone will say something, however simple and off-hand, that will stay with you for the rest of your life. Yesterday afternoon I attended the pre-race luncheon for the elite field and sponsors of the 2013 Bix 7, a 39-year-old race in Davenport, Iowa that’s grown into one of the largest and [...]

Review: In The House Upon The Dirt…

In The House Upon The Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods by Matt Bell Soho Press 2013 Matt Bell’s In The House lingers, even as you finish it and walk away. It collects and gathers like a storm, and explodes into wild proportions. It is a painful novel, full of effort and blood. The [...]

It’s said that the politics in academia are so vicious precisely because the stakes are so low. But sometimes, the stakes are very, very high. To wit: When the New York Times reported in April that the former CIA director, David Petraeus, had been hired by CUNY to teach a single course in the university’s [...]

Ten Years = 130 Moons

The summer issue of Contrary is out, topped by three moon poems by John A. Nieves, and we are now accepting submissions for Winter 2014. The deadline is Dec. 1. Our Autumn 2013 issue will mark our tenth anniversary and will be devoted to the best fiction, poetry, commentary and the most contrary contrarians we have encountered since [...]

When writers retire, we feel betrayed. Why?

We like writers to be contrary, to stand up to conventions, to assert themselves in opposition to what is quietly and tacitly agreed upon “socially acceptable.” That is, as long as they keep doing it. When Alice Munro announced recently that she was retiring from writing at age 81, she said she was inspired by [...]

Review: Burn This House

Burn This House Kelly Davio Red Hen Press 2013 Burn or bless? What’s the difference? Why do prayers contain echoes of threats and how do sin and virtue intertwine? These are questions you will find yourself asking as the narrator wanders through darkness lit by moon and lamplight, pierced by the scream of a barn [...]

“This is the part where you realize/every broken window is a part of you.” Frances Badgett: You start off with the ekphrasis of children’s drawings in wartime and move into the personal—the structure lends the book a feeling of deepening connection. I can’t remember seeing that kind of a structure in a collection before—were the [...]