Personal Essays Archive

Fearing Exile, Like My Family Before Me

Three years ago, I was thrown out of a Trump rally. A friend got circled by police officers, stared at by supporters. He protested. I jumped in. As the police officers wrangled me, Trump said, I can’t believe in Louisiana it takes this long.”

Kinship and Trauma

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Those of us who experience trauma find it difficult to put our experience into words in the first place. Many of us flounder, sputter, or stay silent, at a loss for how to adequately translate our experience into language.

Unmooring

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Those who write about their mental illnesses—Jane Kenyon, Susanna Kaysen, Andrew Solomon, Kay Redfield Jamison, and Elizabeth Wurtzel to name a very small few—often struggle to reconcile their character with the disease that riddles them.

Children of Exile

Between December 1960 and October 1962, around fourteen-thousand unaccompanied children arrived in Miami from Cuba as part of Operation Pedro Pan; my father, migrated here on June 29, 1961.

The Ripples of History in Howl

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I left Hungary in 1981, and never questioned that freedom of speech has always been a feature of the West.

The Legend of The Princess Bride

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This year, I learned that the emotional background to William Goldman’s famous novel is fictional.

The Making of a Poetry Reader

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Reading John Donne’s “Air and Angels,” I came to know that if I listened to a poem, I would know it, even if I didn’t understand everything it said.

Therefore

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Spic, Richie said in the cafeteria, and I don’t remember why. After, as we walked back to our fourth grade classroom, I pushed him down when he turned his back.

Remembering James Alan McPherson

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I first met Jim McPherson when he was twenty-five to my twenty-six. I’d read none of Jim’s work and had no idea that he’d published in the Atlantic, had studied with Alan Lebowitz, been mentored by Edward Weeks, and was finishing his first collection, Hue and Cry.

Reading On the Road

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It took four years for a glioblastoma, a brain cancer that has a median survival rate of fourteen months, to take my mom’s life. It took me those same four years to read Jack Kerouac’s famous work.