thoughts on the absence of craft and confessional style writing
the confessional essay (not just memoir) has become the modus operandi for many young writers, mostly female, being published on the Internet. It’s just as likely to be trashed on as it is treasured; to be deemed “brave” and “searingly honest” as well as “navel-gazing” and “trivial”, and often times, the dismissals are much worse. I sometimes wonder if its this charged polarity that brings some writers to the genre, and find myself making some of the same complaints against it as critics, mostly older males, have made. Really, when I’m reading a stream-of-consciousness, anti-stylized confession piece, what’s missing is any sign of craft, any remaining glint that the writer had paused along the way, to consider her details, why this one would appear before that one, or appear without context, or appear at all. Narrative is necessary whenever a reader is intended. Good writing can contain brave and honest elements. But confessional writing alone does not equal good writing.
Anyway. Michelle Dean does a thorough job of unpacking the recent history of the genre, and even tackles its marketing.
I could mostly care less if a piece of writing is true or not. Will it blow my mind? Then give it here.
1:04 pm • 17 April 2013
“there is a great diference between love, hatred, and desire, but nothing compels us to maintain these differences.”
Diane Williams, Vicky Swanky is A Beauty
1:52 pm • 4 April 2013
~*~*~ PUBLISHING GENIUS GIVEAWAY ~*~*~
Megan McShea’s collection of poetry and experimental fiction, A Mountain City of Toad Splendor, is out next week, but you have a chance to win a free copy just by reblogging this post! THREE winners will each receive one copy of the book. Winners will be contacted and announced by the release date for the book, Tuesday, March 19th.
McShea seems to have studied at the Harvard for Ooh.
—Blake Butler, HTMLGiant editor and author of Ever
McShea is one of the only writers I know whose dreams I remember as if they were my own. She makes intricate languagescapes out of the theater of daily emotion.
—Lucy Corin, author of The Entire Predicament
Languagescapes are everything to me.
2:22 pm • 14 March 2013 • 83 notes
Notes on the North Country
“8. During deer season, you will become a deer widow. It’s a great opportunity to get sauced with all the other deer widows and exchange tips for getting the stink of deer piss out a man’s clothes.”
3:23 pm • 5 March 2013
three ways with the rope
For a few seconds he’s the funniest man in America, takes the chicken all milky and pocked out of the bag and pulls tight at the white strings netted around its body so that it bulges a little and I make a face. Look, its a buncha fatasses, he laughs, and that T-shirt he’s wearing is wrinkled and too bright for winter and I look from the bleached stubs of bone silvered like trapped moons on the legs of the chicken to the gray spikes in the center of his face, sticking in more than out, that once had nailed a row of red berries to my mottled insides, where they ripened for weeks till the rot set in, smelled like sweet and we called that love.
His fingers went around my neck and he went Give it up girlie and the fire’s there begging for licks as it lets itself out like a patient guest at dinner whose cleavage is distracting to everyone - even the women, mostly the women - or like the noise at two am that comes with the eyeball spills and the dripping grins and the sways and the sways and the jukeboxes pumped full of all the most classic hits of the most classic time in music history that no one really knows if they care about still or ever cared about at all.
I’m a part of a deep and faithful line of country music fans: all the people who’ve loved all the people who’ve cried all the people who’ve done nothing but drive their big rigs around nowhere with their fingers locked between some nothing nobody’s teeth.
There are three ways to trap a duck and you better to do it fast. He knows three ways with the rope and you bet I know them by now: here go those she-licks, that Nemesis, this Honey, honey, sugar pie. This tug-of-war game will never be won and if one is recovered it only means I have lost myself, swung that twine up at the old blue sky and went by the ankles, carrying on like I’m some ancient guitar riff like Look at me, baby I’m straight out of sight
10:24 am • 30 January 2013
this is all i know
i had a shotgun but it wouldn’t fire from red lips
only, in sleep and sweat, all allure went gliding
enough of it or not enough of it
crawled into the ground, where it came from
or i don’t know
what a terrible waste
i said and made the requisite shape with my mouth
and flapped my hands to show unshakeable grief
I’ve made a box for running,
taped the pulpy sides to both
my bare feet. It’s clumsy. I
because what is
Only hear the low vibrations tangled at ankles, not
the beautiful, big engine, the tender unthawing, the lonely
seeds yielding desire, I planted my feet in a box
and now there are kittens, stretching on a
maudlin rug, or is it muslin: thin and seeking and
tight-eyed, foolishly tonguing the air
when what they mean is to breathe.
9:14 pm • 25 November 2012 • 1 note
eating the day
Someone sent me this poem this morning, and I remembered how good Mary Oliver is, like turkey-and-cranberry-leftover-sandwich good. I think I might eat the day. Because it’s good. Because this poem. Because the doughnut shop down the street, still selling donuts on Thanksgiving. Because I eat to live, and never, ever do I want to be full.
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
-Mary Oliver, “Wild Geese”
10:01 am • 22 November 2012
everything tastes better when it’s precious
the lungs ask a question the heart repeats
the nose knows more than it can say
the tongue tastes
the genitals wake
the mind believes again
it still exists
6:25 pm • 10 November 2012
I cannot overstate how right side up my mind feels in front of the cold, muted face of winter.
8:22 pm • 8 November 2012