Critical Essays Archive

From Manic to Magical: Reflections on Bruce Chatwin

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It took me less than five minutes via Google Maps to find where English travel writer Bruce Chatwin had lived during his time Edinburgh.

First Women in American Literature

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If you’re anything like me (and lucky for you if you’re not) then you’ve spent most of the last week wallowing your way from one shot glass to another and brushing your teeth with the cuff of your old college sweatshirt.

Bombing the Subway

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The subway has always been the great equalizer of New York City: it’s how the 99% of us get around. The best people-watching happens here, and the city’s art and culture scene extends deep underground.

The Artist’s Statement—How Visual Artists Find and Use Voice

Voice is an intangible but discernible sensibility that threads through and ties together a body of work. It can be loud or quiet, but we always feel it.

Contemporary Native American Poetry Essentials

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Some of the most interesting work in Contemporary American poetry is being done by American Indian writers. And yet, in the ongoing (and important) conversations about diversity and inclusion in United States literary production—especially in poetry—the work by Native Americans is often left out.

On Movement: the Writer as Walker

Many writers have explored the pleasures of walking, including the likes of Virginia Woolf and Amy Hempel. There is a whole canon that depicts and analyzes the connection between moving through geographical terrains and mental ones.

Serial, Timelines, and Fiction

In "Route Talk," an episode from the first season of Serial, Sarah Koenig and her producer attempt to recreate the state’s timeline of the murder of Hae Min Lee. As I listened, I was struck by how similar their exercise was to one creative writers perform.

Character & Setting; Figure & Background: A Painters Advice to Writers

Character and setting, figure and background. In literature and in art, they should work together to bring a concise picture into view.

Details and Big Picture, Through the Eyes of a Visual Artist

I came to writing by way of visual art and the loss of the ability to step back from my work and see the whole, seemed insurmountable to me. But I now understand that language can be used just like paint.

“If I Can Bear the Nights, the Days Are a Pleasure”: On Not Writing

I’m a slow writer and I accepted that a long time ago. But earlier this year, I noticed I was becoming slower and slower, writing a sentence a day, even a sentence a week at times. I was experiencing a period of drought.