Critical Essays Archive

On Accidental Books

Books, even books writers didn’t know they were writing, are born from discipline, by people who took their ideas seriously, even before they amounted to anything.

What Is Poetry?

Author: | Categories: Critical Essays No comments
The question arises often in bookstore readings and writing workshops, cultural commentary and book clubs, and yet the answers remain slippery and incomplete, sometimes biased toward a particular aesthetic, other times umbrella-ed into compromising vagaries, all of which equally frustrate the long-haul poet and the beginning reader.

Iconography of a Disaster: Svetlana Alexievich’s Voices from Chernobyl

Author: | Categories: Critical Essays No comments
Svetlana Alexievich’s Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster, about the nuclear reactor meltdown at Chernobyl on April 26, 1986, opens with Lyudmilla Ignatenko, whose husband Vasily was one of the first firefighters to respond to the scene.

Plenty of Pride & No Prejudice?

Author: | Categories: Critical Essays No comments
A while ago, while browsing the local Barnes & Noble, a friend and I started discussing how we got into LGBTQ literature, and how much reading specifically queer authors had meant to us in times of turmoil, both personal and not. This was in the aftermath of the Orlando

At the Seashore With Rachel Carson

Author: | Categories: Critical Essays No comments
Under the Sea-Wind takes readers to the ocean and illustrates through the power of words and a few elegant line drawings a fascinating and complex world most of us never stop to consider.

The Virtues of Patience

Author: | Categories: Critical Essays No comments
By nature an impatient person, I have found that the two states I’ve always wanted most for my life—writerhood and motherhood—can demand more than I comfortably have in reserve.

Thich Nhat Hanh: A Literary and Spiritual Inspiration

Author: | Categories: Critical Essays No comments
One of the gifts Thich Nhat Hanh has in common with some of my other favorite authors is that when I read him I feel as if he is letting me and me alone in on a secret.

Where Zadie Smith’s “Getting In and Out” Misses the Mark

Author: | Categories: Critical Essays No comments
Despite Smith’s powerful and undeniable ability to employ and maneuver language the way she does, “Getting In and Out” comes up short for two very vital reasons.

“How Do You Make the Face for Yay?”

Author: | Categories: Critical Essays No comments
Traditional storytelling often minimizes the intersection between internal and external experiences, but graphic novels rely on this to fully tell the story. These narratives can show in words and pictures the complexity of disability and its various intersections: with visibility, with race, gender, sexuality.

George Saunders, Alice Munro, and the Opposite Poles of New Yorker Fiction

Author: | Categories: Critical Essays No comments
The New Yorker has published more than fifty short stories by Alice Munro and more than twenty by George Saunders. Munro first made the cut in 1977. Saunders began publishing short fiction in the magazine in 1992.