Personal Essays Archive

States of Refusal in How to Do Nothing and Housekeeping

“Fourteen years ago I left my job at a publicly traded company and began life as a freelancer. In all these years I have been trying to get to what Jenny Odell calls the ‘third space,’ an arena of both participation in and resistance to society.”

Sacredness in the In-Between

Sergio Troncoso has chosen to situate his latest anthology in an in-between place. Through fiction, poetry, and nonfiction by Mexican American authors, it explores families living along the U.S.-Mexico border and how being in the middle of worlds impacts their lives.

“What is magic but a story with solid engineering?”

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Coming from a culture where audience participation was an integral part of communal life, the novel does not offer my parents, Lao refugees, an easy entry point. So I wrote in a way where nothing would be lost if they added their own spin to the story.

The Shape of Nations

One cannot simply outgrow or outlive a colonial, racist history. In order for the system to change, we need to stare at it and acknowledge it for what it is.

Read Backwards You Were A Grandchild

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“No story that I write can give shape to all my absences. No matter how measured and articulate, no pronouncement I can make can bring back the dead. I’m not trying to tell a better story anymore—I don’t trust narrative.”

Handiwork and the Making of Motherhood

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“When my son was born, I became obsessed with making. It was as if his coming into the world flipped a switch somewhere inside of myself that compelled me to create things with my hands.”

Remembering Monica Berlin

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“Something I think about often is how you once said that sometimes when you write a letter, the person you are writing to may never write back. Perhaps what you were quietly teaching us about was grief.”

Becoming an Art Monster

“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.”

Pamp’s Books

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“In reading Pamp’s books, I found myself strangely transposed. I occupied both the position of literary critic working to understand century-old biblical exegesis and that of discoverer of a forgotten family text.”

I Will Always Be That

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Throughout transition, I’ve often thought of my body as a poem––one whose semantics is a web of social relations I can’t quite parse, that no one can fully parse. More than a “receptacle,” my trans body necessarily relies on the creation of new subjective semantics.