By Oath or Affirmation: Six Books About the U.S. Constitution

Reviews of America’s Constitution: A Biography, by Akhil Reed Amar; Christianity and the Constitution, by John Eidsmoe; The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court, by Jeffrey Toobin; Our Undemocratic Constitution: Where the Constitution Goes Wrong (And How We the People Can Correct It), by Sanford Levinson; and A More Perfect Constitution, by Larry J. Sabato.

Nine Times (Among Countless Others) I've Thought About the People Who Came Before Us in My Brief Career as a Father

The full text of this essay is not currently available online.

For every living person on Earth, I wonder, how many dead people are in the ground? Do they care that we walk around on top of their heads? Do our ancestors follow us around throughout the day, and do they shake their heads at us when we repeat their mistakes?

What's the Matter with Houdini?

This essay was the winning non-fiction entry in the 2009 Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize.

The full text of this essay is not currently available online.

I can only figure out who I am by projecting myself onto my dogs. It occurred to me on day, when performing this exercise in self-definition on my cocker spaniel, that my own, my family’s and my country’s history of interaction with cocker spaniels encapsulates our changing relationship with nature, with science, with mortality.

A Conversation with Ellen Bryant Voigt

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This is a culture that does not honor the arts, increasingly does not honor the arts, does not honor literacy, does not honor intelligence, does not honor contemplation. That’s what we’re swimming in. I think you have to find whatever it is that drove you to begin writing in the first place, and you have to feed it.

Poetry Feature: Christina Hutchins

Ruby and the Alarm Bird

Washing my father’s hands

Translations

Turnstile

Poetry Feature: Lisa Williams

Featuring the poems:

 

Melt

If I could enter what I long for,

true coursing, blown North,

 

some passage I believe is fluid

without the stops of intellect,

 

I’d be a glacier disassembling

into liquid, icy grains

 

awash and running, freed

from rigid doubt into one bead

 

of travel, cold without pain,

removed from but akin

 

to others in a witless flux

of continuing, scrambled syntax

 

whose translation is diluted,

whose value is all go

 

uncontrived, arrow of happenstance,

inebriated flow,

 

and where I would be riding

would not be justified, there would be

 

no reason for it, I can tell you-

extemporary motion,

 

the going and the being gone

to sea.

Poetry Feature: Frannie Lindsay

Enough

The Good Day

The Music is Going Great in Both Directions

In Bed with Janet

Encore

Pleasure

Vandalizing My Sister’s House

Nelson Street

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June told her mother about this woman, how she waited in her front yard in order to speak with her father, and how she’d smile with her “big fat lips.” But the mother only laughed and said, “Well, aren’t you the little spy?”

Public Enemy

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I was eight years old and just strong enough to slip a shot over the lip of the rim when I heaved it just right. I don’t know how CJ missed me standing at the edge of the playground’s blacktop, crook of my right arm squeezing a basketball, but he did. I wanted to hide or run past them and up to my parents’ apartment, but I ended up backing up to the fence and sitting on my heels like I was watching TV.

Grief

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It was snowing when I left the tavern. A couple of inches had accumulated during the hour or so I’d been inside eating a fish sandwich, washing it down with a local IPA. I had just come back crom Portland, Oregon. My daughter, Gabrielle, had died there four years before.