Critical Essays Archive
“I’ve been thinking about archives of staying and going not so much because they reveal some new, previously hidden insight, but because of the record they leave carved in language and story. Narratives like these flesh out the nuances of living alongside environmental disaster.”
Julie Carr’s 2018 poetry collection is a sort of structure where images, conversations, questions, and all else that is unbearable have been contained.
the end of Shifra Cornfeld’s book, it is up to readers to come up with the missing pieces of the puzzle. Whether this silence is part of Cornfled’s practice of empathy or a silent indictment of her characters’ behavior, what is left unsaid speaks volumes.
Museums are filled with ghosts, if “ghost” is just another word for “longing.” Their collections typify our desire for possession, which, as poet and essayist Mary Ruefle would argue, is a “sickness”—the “world’s greatest sickness on earth,” in fact.
Czeslaw Milosz’s work explores the disorientation of time, the pain of dislocation, and the porous border between community and solitude. He writes with awe about both small moments and large expanses of time, and evokes eternity in everyday encounters between people; his poems feel at once lonely and communal.
Solnit’s approach has reflexivity built into it—a tendency to return to the past and to think through the same event multiple times in light of our current moment. Far from feeling repetitive, then, her most recent collection offers readers nuanced takes on old issues.
Claire Meuschke’s 2020 collection asks how material and historical objects constrain and define our lives, and how we stretch beyond these constraints, or live in defiance of them.
Elif Batuman’s protagonist wants to trust language, but language is inherently dishonest, a fractured mirror that never accurately reflects what really is. Trust it too much and it will leave you feeling betrayed.
“Of course pretending to be a regular girl is monstrous—as monstrous as not writing, and as monstrous as being a mother who takes some time to herself to write, as I am doing now.”
Green is “of this earth.” It is life and death at once, looking down at us from the rafters and blooming in our veins.