The North Dakota Quarterly’s mix of essays, memoirs, poems, fiction, and reviews forms a pleasing whole. A lot of the pieces in this issue revolve around a description of a place or landscape. This trend begins in the first short story “Zulu” by Karen Alpha in which the plains of Alberta form the backdrop of a love story between a horse and a zebra. Karen Babine very overtly continues this theme in her essay, “Sligo: Yeats and the Theology of Place.” She specifically discusses sacred places, “places where the physical and the spiritual cannot be separated…visible signs of invisible grace.” Four poetry selections by Marilyn Dorf describe dusk, harvest and spring in a country setting. In “In the Green of the Year,” she uses her title as a refrain, weaving in and out of beautiful natural images: “In the green of the year…the willow bows / in the direction of rain, / the air mushroom-soft, / and the bay mare / at the barnyard gate / watching for the one who will feed her.” Molly Cooney’s “Lining” describes a river trip and the landscape of the Canadian Artic; in Melodie Edwards’ story “Nightplain” a river is the focal landscape for a daughter searching for her father.
Unique to the NDQ is a section called “A Sea Change: Books that Mattered.” Here writers tell how a certain book or author shaped their life. In this section, Jonathon Larkin’s first published work, “Is This Green Town? My Life According to Ray Bradbury” recounts how Bradbury’s stories infused in him a new love and passion for life, and, maybe most importantly, the strength to forgive his alcoholic father.
With the inclusion of scholarly essays and memoirs alongside its poetry and prose, NDQ contains the most diverse genres of writing in one literary magazine I’ve enjoyed in a while.