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Marvelous beasts.

ICYMI no. 005  |  November 2020

Welcome to ICYMI Monthly. Every month, we feature four essays and two craft pieces handpicked by our editors.

In our 25+ years, Creative Nonfiction has published hundreds of original works, most of which have never been available online. Now we're sharing some of our best writing with you. Happy reading!

ESSAY  |  CNF #40, Animals (2011)
CHARGING LIONS  |  Chester F. Phillips

A latter-day homesteader comes face to face with an alpha predator in the middle of the night

"'Wake up,' Debbie shouted. 'I think a lion's got Dutchess's calf.' 

I bolted awake, sitting up in bed, disoriented. On warm nights, we slept with the windows open, and I heard the shrill bellowing that was Dutchess's most distinctive characteristic, just as it was her mother’s. When you spend every day for years getting to know any creatures, human or otherwise, you come to know such things: the differences of vocal inflection; calm or skittish or aggressive temperaments; degrees of adventurousness versus maternal instinct; intelligence and guile; the willingness to walk a long way …

From the corral, the calls sounded again and again—loud, deranged by worry, a desperate mother’s cries of distress." Read →

ON CRAFT  |  CNF #61, Learning from Nature (2016)
THE ESSAY AS BOUQUET  |  Suzanne Cope

"Hermit crab" essays can take many forms, both natural and not

"The act of lyric essay writing not only makes thoughts visible but also institutes order and layers meaning when it is not always immediately apparent. And although ideas may begin free-form or as stream of consciousness, on the page or screen, we make the jump from internal to external. We craft them into a form, whether chronological or otherwise. One such approach to form is the 'hermit crab' essay." Read →

ESSAY  |  CNF #69, Intoxication (2019)

THE CHERRY BIRDS  |  Kateri Kosek

There's a steep price for gluttony

"Cedar waxwings gorge themselves on fruit: it makes up about 80 percent of their diet. Few North American birds eat so much fruit year-round. Waxwings can devour an entire crop of red cedar fruit in two days. They can swallow berries whole until they become immobilized, intoxicated. No one writes about the cedar waxwing without mentioning this." Read →

ESSAY  |  CNF #38, Immortality (2010)
THE IMMORTAL ONES  |  Virginia Morell

Plants & animals that live forever

"As far as scientists know, there is only one animal on Earth that has achieved what some (secretly, all?) humans dream about: immortality. Unfortunately, it’s probably not the kind of animal you want to be—just a soft-bodied, neuronally challenged, jellyfish-like creature called Turritopsis nutricula." Read →

ON CRAFT  |  CNF #64, Adaptation (2017)
MAKING A HUMMINGBIRD OF WORDS  |  Beth Ann Fennelly

"Micro-memoirs" are small but mighty

"The little memories or quirky thoughts or miniature scenes I was creating seemed refreshing. I thought, What if this ';not writing'; I’m doing actually is writing, and I just don’t recognize it because it doesn’t look like other writing I’ve done? What if I need to stop waiting for these things to add up to something, and realize maybe they already are somethings, just small? What if I’m writing hummingbirds?" Read →

ESSAY  |  True Story #13 (2017)
BEASTS AMONG US  |  Erica Berry

On a trip to the epicenter of werewolf sightings in the US, Erica Berry searches for the elusive Beast of Bray Road

"Mark Schackelman was in his early thirties, a night watchman at the St. Coletta School for Exceptional Children. ... 

Schackelman was out walking the grounds, a bit before midnight, when he saw it: a shaggy, dog-faced creature with a muscular human torso. It was kneeling on one of the mounds, digging into the mussed earth. 

Slowly, Schackelman backed away. The creature, too, backed away. At some point, it ran, but it ran like a man: two paws on the ground, two in the night air." Read →

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