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Looking through all the various online publications collected here, I stumble across a few pieces that I really like. Every week I’ll be showcasing some of them here. As always, mine is not a ranking or meant to comment on the universities represented here. These are simply a handful of writers whose work I admired.

1. “The Cowboys of Fukushima,” by Christopher Linforth (Virginia Tech)

Here’s a story about radioactive cows. And if that doesn’t interest you, then I’d direct you to My. Linforth’s unique style and attention to the emotions of his characters who find themselves caught up in the machinations of complicated systems. Fans of Ben Fountain will certainly enjoy.


2. “Counting Bats,” by Thao Thai (The Ohio State University)

This is one of those essays that could very easily be read as fiction. It’s brief, but manages with lyricism and humor to just hint at bigger worlds and greater questions while still making use of the authenticity characteristic of the personal essay.


3. “And Science is a turtle that says that its own shell encloses all things,” by Justin Carter (Bowling Green State University)

As somebody with a background in the sciences, I’m always looking for people who are able to create that world on paper. Here Carter manages to do just that by holding up a mirror to the sometimes-absurdity of rational thought. But, rather than falling into the classic trap of “Science=Hubris=Bad,” this is a poem that manages to retain some of the mind-expanding wonder that science and discovery has brought us.

http://www.ninthletter.com/web_edition/issue/2/poetry.html (Scroll down just a little bit)

4. “Pocket Apocalypse,” by Andrea Danowski (University of Oregon)

Flash fiction never gets enough love, in my opinion, though it often combines some of the best elements of prose and poetry. This short piece demonstrates, to me, the sort of fiction that is just pleasurable to read and to read aloud. While there’s not much room for plot, the craft of each individual sentence more than makes up the difference.


5. “Where I Live Now,” by Marysa LaRowe (Vanderbilt University)

In the same way that shorter fiction can step away from plot, this is the sort of piece that achieves in just a few paragraphs what some novelists can’t do given an entire chapter. LaRowe sets up scenes that are not only fleshed-out in the present, but which are in posession of a clear past and a tangible future.