Critical Essays Archive

Julie Maroh’s Body Music: Looking for Love in Montreal

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Last year, Julie Maroh published another graphic novel, Body Music, a series of short vignettes about people and their love stories. It takes place in Montreal, starting July 1st – the day when people usually move out or in – and spans one year, coming back full circle.

The Literary Text as Performance & Spectacle

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Recent years have seen a proliferation of feminist writers who are taking up questions about language, spectatorship, and the orders of power implicit in the gaze. More now than ever, poets are telling us where to look, as well as refusing, restructuring, and renegotiating the terms of the gaze.

The Give and Take of Literary Magazines

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The value—and power—of new independent publishing goes without saying. But new publishers, operating with virtually unlimited space to publish, also run the risk of taking more than they provide.

A Life in Fragments

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I have been most moved by writing that tells a story in fragments, often ones that are weighted with emotion and significance to the life of the narrator. Only after each fragment has been picked up, polished, and assembled in place, jagged edge to jagged edge, does the meaning

The Poetics of Body Positivity

My earliest memories of the poetic representations of other cis women, like me, were highly sexualized. It seemed that women’s bodies, rather than the women, were (cis male) poets’ muses.

Language and Linearity in A Wrinkle in Time

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What does it mean for an otherworldly fantasy to associate itself so closely with the language of real-world historical and contemporary figures? How does drawing from the language of the outside world enhance the interior, contained universe that exists within a film or novel?

A Map of Belonging: China Miéville’s The City & The City

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The City & The City is billed as a fantasy novel, but, once read, there is no inherent reason to believe these are other than two wholly real cities pieced and parceled out in strips—often even with citizens walking along the same roads and sidewalks, studiously not noticing one

Maggie O’Farrell Pulls the Curtain Back on Death

Maggie O’Farrell’s recent memoir takes its title from this allusion. I am, I am, I am tells the story of the author’s life through seventeen near death experiences.

What’s Left Unsaid in Angela Flournoy’s “The Miss April Houses”

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Sometimes silence is more powerful than words, and Flournoy uses this device deliberately throughout her story "The Miss April Houses."

Memory and Metaphor in Mai Der Vang’s Afterland

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Many of us who love poetry think of metaphor as being somewhere in its DNA. Without metaphors, somehow, it seems, poetry would not be itself.