The 2010 edition of New Millennium features a reprint of a profile/interview with the late John Updike by the magazine’s editor, Don Williams, originally published in 1996; a Poetry Suite of work by 51 poets and the short-short fiction, fiction, nonfiction, “Special Obama Awards,” and poetry winners in the magazine’s highly popular contests. Award-winning works are accompanied by author photos and statements. For the most part, prose contributions favor casual and natural voices, credible and authentic dialogue, well rounded plots, logical and familiar narrative impulses, and preoccupations that may be shared familiarly by many readers.
Melanie Hoffert, for example, writes a coming out story in “The Allure of Grain Trucks,” and explores the meaning of silence as it relates to her younger self as a closeted lesbian (she refers to herself as “gay”). The most uniquely imagined story is the short-short fiction prize winning “Grass Shrimp” by Allison Alsup, who describes her entry as an attempt to consider “the sorts of intimacies that must have existed in a ‘bachelor society’ in which men outnumbered women as much as twenty to one.” That society is a fishing camp for members of the early Chinese immigrant community in California, and Alsup says she intends to write a novel from this piece.
Poems tend toward the narrative or to character studies or reflections on nature and, much like the prose, favor natural, familiar voices. Here is Ellen La Flèche from her poem “What My French-Canadian Grandmother Said in Response to the Fears About the Anthrax Postal Attacks of 2001”:
I’m not scared of my mailbox,
not worried, me, about no anthrax pox.
We was all afraid back then In 1910,
The woolen mill was full of it. Didn’t call
it anthrax. Wool-sorting Disease.
You was afraid to breathe,
didn’t want them spores in your lungs,
In the pores of your skin.
And here is the opening of Deborah DeNicola’s “Sun Song”:
I drag my chair to the water’s edge and marvel
at the sea’s interaction with my footprint. I pledge
my mark on the earth, awash in a new shape. And I thank
the sun that charges the sand, charges landscape
fuses clouds to their destines…
“It was a big deal that Obama got elected,” the editor tells us in his “quick tour” of the issue. Hence, the Obama-themed contest. Here is an excerpt from one of the poetry winners, a poem by Suellen Wedmore titled “Because”:
January 20th, 2009
its big umbrella
discourse grew ruffle-edged,
conjugated and serene
And here are the concluding lines of Naomi Ruth Lowinsky’s, “An American History Poem”:
We are poets
We write down