Of the 49 contributors in this issue of Nimrod, 36 are finalists and semifinalists of its 27th annual award issue, which is based on Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Four are for the Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Fiction; 32 for the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry. Numbers may not be the best introduction for their venerated prize issue, yet it suggests the bloom of the varied, evocative and penetrating contents: this is a journal to be slowly ingested and savored. Anything this rich with poetry would have plenty of elegies and homages to nature, but finalist Katherine Case’s “Autumn” conjures the redolence of death and fall on the page: “The air is rainwet / and skunky, as if we’re breathing in / the world of trees, inhaling their darkest insides, / where smoky, obsidian hearts sleep in slow / rhythm and ancient filaments curl / through woody darkness…” Place and time are transcended and shed, especially in “La Historia” by winner Patricia Caspers. Themes of love and parents, of sex and gods, abound throughout the journal, with too many memorable pieces to name, works that replay and remain long beyond the power of the eyes. All five fiction pieces are enduring first-person tellings, the top prize winners told from the opposite gender of the author: Thomas Gough’s winning story, “Idleness, Justice, Kingship and Love” introduces Louise, who has moved into her friend Simon’s vacated church two days before the ‘04 presidential election. “In fact, the end was past (she says, referring to her recent split with her husband), but we’re creatures of habit, and the habit of late winter is hope.” Jen Larsen’s narrator, in “What It Is You Know,” attends his estranged wife’s funeral under a pall of pity and disconnected memories that won’t answer why she left him. That unsettled feeling morphs into outright creepiness in “The Prince of Darkness,” where Janette Turner Hospital expertly understates the event that destroyed a family, letting the reader infer everything from the fallout.