A journal of narrative writing.

After several delays, we are thrilled to bring you our Winter/Spring 2014 installment at long last. Indeed, the publication of Conte 9.2 is a bittersweet milestone for us, since it marks our twentieth issue, yet also serves as our final bow, as it is with a heavy heart that we publish the ultimate chapter in our nine-year run.

We hope this news will not overshadow the remarkable poems housed here, however. We open with Lena Moses-Schmitt’s taut, image-driven “Extraction,” which takes us from a crab feast to an aunt’s struggle with illness, and the result is a poignant—if visceral—carpe diem. This corporeal theme continues in Charles Harper Webb’s magical prose-poem “Secrets of the Body Revealed,” followed by two sustained and mournful pieces by Sara Henning. Karen Pickell offers a powerful interrogation of adoption in “Lore of the Birth Mother” before Kathleen Hellen reveals an anxious mother’s love in “How It Is.” Finally, we conclude this issue’s offering of verse with two sonorous nature poems by Al Maginnes, one of our favorite contemporary voices.

The prose selections for this issue begin with a Michael Lacare’s “Claire”, an intriguing and tightly-wound nonfiction story which invites us to consider how easily, even necessarily, an identity can be misapprehended. Our first fiction piece, Jacquelyn Stolos’s “Squat,” trails after a young man who makes a sudden break with his past, and explores the lattice of human coincidence connecting his old and new lives. We follow this with “Swans,” Suzanne Ushie’s tense foray into the indelicacies of two strangers relations in the midst of an alien city.

Conte began in 2005 as a modest dream to provide a digital home to narrative writing at a time when many online literary journals celebrated the slight and fantastic. We fulfilled this dream many times over, for in the decade that followed, we had the great pleasure to publish nearly three hundred writers and poets—from home and abroad, from careerists to high school students, from household names to first-time authors. While it is difficult to say goodbye to the bliss of bringing art into the world, we take comfort in knowing that our archives will remain available and that, perhaps, the story of Conte has played some small part in the literature of our new century and the democratic evolution of the internet. Dear Reader, we thank you for being a part of this journey and hope you’ll savor this last morsel with us. We bid a fond farewell in the immortal words of Walt Whitman: we sufficed at what we were, we harbored for good or ill, we spoke at every hazard.

Adam & Robert