Personal Essays Archive

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.

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.”

Language and the Experience of Desire

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A few summers ago, I found myself tongue-tied on a first date. When I’m in London, flirting tastes like the first day of Spring: it imbues the air with possibility, and teases out a linguistic recklessness in me. In Dutch, I seemed to inhabit a less sensuous version of

Searching for My Grandmother in The Heart Mountain Sentinel

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When my grandmother was a girl, she slept with a knife underneath her pillow. The soft brutality of this detail rushes to the forefront of my mind every time I recall her face. I’m pulled in by the image of her small body afraid but ready to fight.

How the Past Echoes Through Our Lives

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There is nothing especially remarkable about Papa Stanley’s death, no significant reason I should be thinking about it some 33 years later in the midst of a global pandemic and nationwide anti-racism protests, except it was the first part of what I came to see as a pattern emerging.

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.

The Power of Reading About Your Home

Jaquira Díaz’s 2019 memoir resonated deeply with me in a way that a bronzed Al Pacino never could, and that a book never had.

Ray Bradbury, Literary Godfather

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Once or twice, if we're lucky, we may come across a writer who changes our lives. For me, the greatest discovery of my reading life, and the biggest influence on my writing life, was a box of fantasy and science fiction books my father left behind when he moved

Jewtopia

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As she got older, anytime someone was thinking of leaving town, my grandmother would implore them to stay, reciting the refrain that has now become a family catchphrase: “Don’t go no place,” she’d say. Family is the place. Nobody understands this interpretation of the utopian ideal better than immigrant

The Canonization of John Kennedy Toole

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We’ve spent so much time discussing Ignatius Reilly: his multi-dimensional, timeless creation, but have ignored saying the obvious about John Kennedy Toole—that much of the Dunces mythos is built on the back of his suicide.