June 2020

Vol.63 Issue 01

This web-only series features work from the TLR archive that we think in varied ways speaks to this extraordinary moment of reckoning around systemic racism, Black Lives, and the American landscape.




Jeffery Renard Allen
Holding Pattern

The story, “Holding Pattern,” was originally published in TLR: Summer, 2003, and then reprinted in TLR: Current Events, the 60th anniversary issue.

And that ain’t the least of it. The kinda shit this trippy world can put on your brain…


Erica Hunt
Chasing a Ghost: Portrait of My Father

The memoir, “Chasing a Ghost,” was originally published in TLR: FLIGHT. It was named as a “Notable Essay” in The Best American Essays 2016.

In my first attempts to reconstruct him, Thomas was a man of diffuse themes bundled by character, a tumble of duets with me, constrained by the name “Father.” Later Thomas became a subject, just like me…


Ruth Ellen Kocher

The poem, “#106LinesOnBlacknessForWhitePoetsandPolicemen,” was originally published in TLR: Fight. It was also included in the TLR anniversary issue, Current Events

My first college boyfriend looked like a skinny Viking
I discovered the desert could not help me breathe
Sometimes, glass breaks, spontaneously, around me


Sarah LaBrie
The Neon Touch

The story, “The Neon Touch,” was originally published in TLR: Street Cred

In critique we were supposed to talk about space, composition, lighting—I said I thought the pills looked pretty and Sophia’s mother looked sad. Most people, admissions officers at elite schools especially, thought growing up black and poor meant the same thing as growing up deprived…


Clarence Major
The Necessity of Saints

From the deep archive, the poem, “The Necessity of Saints,” originally appeared in the winter 1959 issue of The Literary Review. It was republished in 2017 as part of the sixtieth anniversary issue, TLR: Current Events.

Not to measure my height into the clouds And cheat in the reflected vision, So judge myself soberly, In a way a superior force has dealt with faith:   These things were told me on a sidewalk; Once …


David Mills
The Almost Audience (for Phyllis Wheatley)

The poem, “The Almost Audience (for Phyllis Wheatley),” was originally published in TLR: Chemistry

She who’d been named for the schooner that brought her to Boston: three months scrunched in the hull: like being trapped in a capsized parrot’s rancid beak…


Dustin Pearson
A Dependency

The poem, “A Dependency,” was originally published in TLR: Granary

You can lose your brother to Hell
and still be happy inside your house…


Nikki Wallschlaeger

The poem, “Crying,” was originally published in TLR: Babel Fish

Instead of crying I put on “Live Evil” by Miles Davis to smudge the room of 1950s white nonsense…




Jeffery Renard Allen is the author of five books including the novels Song of the Shank, which was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award, and Rails Under My Back, which won the Chicago Tribune’s Heartland Prize for Fiction; the short story collection Holding Pattern, which received the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence; and two collections of poetry. He was a 2015 Guggenheim Fellow.  A new collection of short stories is due out in 2021.

Erica Hunt is a poet, essayist, and author of Veronica: A Suite in X Parts,  Local History and Arcade, as well as three chapbooks: Piece Logic, Time Flies Right Before the Eyes, and A Day and Its Approximates. Her poems and non-fiction have appeared in BOMB, The Los Angeles Review of Books, and Conjunctions, and her essays on poetics, feminism, and politics have been collected in Moving Borders: Three Decades of Innovative Writing by Women, The Politics of Poetic Form, The World, and other anthologies. With Dawn Lundy Martin, she is the editor of Letters to the Future: Black WOMEN/Radical WRITING. Forthcoming in October, Jump the Clock: New & Selected Poems.

Ruth Ellen Kocher is the author of Third Voice; domina Un/blued, winner of the Dorset Prize and the 2014 PEN/Open Book Award; Ending in Planes; Goodbye Lyric: The Gigans and Lovely Gun; One Girl Babylon; When the Moon Knows You’re Wandering; and Desdemona’s Fire, winner of the Naomi Long Madgett Award for African American Poets. She is a contributing editor at Poets & Writers Magazine, and teaches poetry, poetics, and literature at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where she is also Associate Dean for Arts and Humanities.

Sarah LaBrie was a staff writer on Made For Love, the TV adaption of the novel by Alissa Nutting, set to premiere on HBO Max in 2020. She has worked as a librettist on productions including Hopscotch (The Industry) and dreams of the new world (Los Angeles Master Chorale). Her work has been published in Guernica, Lucky Peach, Los Angeles Review of Books, Lit Hub, The Millions, among others. She grew up in the Third Ward in Houston and lives in Los Angeles.

Clarence Major‘s most recent book is My Studio (2018). A full biography, and additional poems, can be found at the Poetry Foundation.

Dustin Pearson is the author of Millennial Roost and A Family Is a House. He is a McKnight Doctoral Fellow in Creative Writing at Florida State University. The recipient of fellowships from Cave Canem, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing, and The Anderson Center at Tower View, Pearson has served as the editor of Hayden’s Ferry Review and as a Director of the Clemson Literary Festival. He won the Academy of American Poets Katharine C. Turner Prize and the John Mackay Graduate Award. His work appears in Blackbird, Vinyl Poetry, Bennington Review, TriQuarterly, [PANK], Fjords Review, and elsewhere.

Nikki Wallschlaeger’s work has been featured in The Nation, Brick, American Poetry Review, Witness, Kenyon Review, Poetry, and others. She is the author of the full-length collections Houses (Horseless Press 2015)  and Crawlspace (Bloof 2017) as well as the graphic book I Hate Telling You How I Really Feel (2019) from Bloof Books. She is also the author of an artist book called “Operation USA” through the Baltimore-based book arts group Container, a project acquired by Woodland Pattern Book Center in Milwaukee. Her third collection, Waterbaby, is forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press in 2021. Her poem, “Society,” appears in TLR: Hawks Do Not Share, the Hemingway issue.