Author Archive

The Lap as Site of Resistance in Layli Long Soldier’s Whereas

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Layli Long Soldier’s 2017 poetry collection is—beyond its brilliant depiction of colonialism’s legacy—also a book about liminal spaces and stolen time, by which I mean, the dilemma of the mother/maker or mother/artist.

The Art of Conversation in Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Dictee

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Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s 1982 book confounds expectations at every turn. Specifically, there’s something monumental about the text’s extreme lack of metaphor, its striving toward objective observation, that feels to me—in this moment—absolutely poetic.

America and The River Twice

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Kathleen Graber’s newest collection asks how much her speaker is to blame for what she sees as troubling in American culture, and how identity might be formed in the crucible of condemnation.

Sadness, Metaphor, and Pedagogy in The Sword in the Stone

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In the first book of T. H. White’s Arthurian saga, published in 1938, a young Arthur feels restless and sulky. Arthur’s stepfather shoos him away to Merlyn’s study for advice and a little cheering up, and Merlyn tells his pupil, “The best thing for being sad is to learn

Wuthering Heights and Language Play

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What if Emily Brontë’s achievement in her only novel is really its dramatic correlation to her own passage from child actor to adult novelist, serving as a natural extension of her language play, and espousing play as necessary work?

The Secret Horror of The Haunting of Hill House

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A secret horror isn’t magically eradicated because its spoken aloud. Rather, its implications spread, deepen, further infiltrating our complex web of relationships, our motivations, our dreams. In fact, some horrors can’t be named; the words fail us.

Faith and Sycamore

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Kathy Fagan’s newest collection of poetry leans on its eponymous tree’s multi-colored, mottled trunks, its hefty size and spreading canopy, to provide a material figure for perseverance and resurrection, replacing those old images of “angel / wings of gold and mica.”

Visiting Haworth

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From childhood, the Brontë siblings held each other’s intellects in high esteem and together made a web—a story-catcher—out of their own disparate interests, their ideas acting as warp and woof, their mutual love and respect a catalyst for their later works.

The Poetic Instant and Creative Criticism

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I’ve often wondered about the efficacy of my academic training. What good did it do? The definitive effect hasn’t been a breadth of ready knowledge but rather a facility for surprise and a capacity for shaped responses to texts I call “creative criticism.”

The Moral Universe in Ninety-Nine Stories of God

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Fiction writer and essayist Joy Williams wears sunglasses all the time—a fact that might be a walking metaphor. In Williams’ world, it seems, God is also wearing a pair of mirrored sunglasses, and after we tire of making funny faces at ourselves in His lenses, we start to panic.