Lyric Essay Seneca Review
• Copyright is held by Hobart and William Smith Colleges until publication, at which time rights revert to the author.
• Due to budgetary concerns, and in an effort to curb our Submittable expenses, Seneca Review is now charging a fee for work sent via Submittable.
All great, but here was the problem: when I would share my lyric essays in workshops and writing circles, I noticed that people were often reluctant to critique, like they didn’t know whether to eat what I had served with a fork or with a spoon.
I love this quote from Brian Doyle’s “Playfulnessless,” in Vol. 1 issue of Thesis: the essay is the widest fattest most generous open glorious honest endlessly expandable form of committing prose not only because it cheerfully steals and hones all the other tools and talents of all other forms of art, and not only because it is admirably and brilliantly closest to not only the speaking voice but the maundering salty singing voices in our heads, but also because it is the most playful of forms, liable to hilarity and free association and startlement, without the filters and mannered disguises and stiff dignity of fiction and poetry and journalism, respectively. What Brian Doyle is talking about is the malleability of the essay as a form, the flexibility of the structure itself.
In preparation for my recent graduate student presentation on the lyric essay, I came across an array of interesting quotes and ideas about what, exactly, the lyric essay is.
From Chris Offutt’s tongue-in-cheek —Which reveals a common misconception about the lyric essay: that it is merely an ornamental device, a compliment to one’s writing, a label to which one’s work aspires, like “powerful” or “poetic.” When in fact, the lyric essay is a , an intended form of essay that seeks to deepen the artistic experience of creative nonfiction, just like modern art and contemporary performance art movements seek to evolve their own forms of artistic expression.
We speak of worry as though it is something we can choose to do, or stop doing… We don’t have the capacity to choose to start worrying, and we cannot simply choose to stop worrying, either; the capacity we have—at least some of us—is the capacity to allow worry to articulate itself.
Rather than holding the reader’s hand along a guided trail of thought, the lyric essayist provides clues, using the juxtaposition of contrasting images or ideas to convey emotion or explore a theme.For me, the lyric essay was like opening the door to the Secret Garden.It was a place that provided permission and space for me to play and explore so I could discover my authentic narrative voice.Above all, I am a mother — so whether I’m writing about the natural world, family, or place, I like to consider my work as environmental advocacy in the broadest sense. Brevity Magazine’s blog has been devoted to reviews of AWP panels these past few weeks.And rather than being strictly disciplined in form and movement, formulaic in its positioning —like ballet or a 5-paragraph essay— the lyric essay is more organic in its movement, free to borrow devices and techniques from other genres and art forms to illustrate the quest for understanding. Experimentation with form: • Exclusion of linear, logical sequence — organized by themes other than chronology 2.Uses the power of inference — more active reliance on reader’s intuition to complete the narrator’s thought 3.Kathleen Rooney The Wilderness of Unopened Life: On Selecting and Working with Course Texts, or Reading List Assembly for the Open Form Essay I have a terrible confession to make. I have three main reasons for not teaching “the lyric essay” in a way that uses that term.I have never in my life taught “the lyric essay.” And yet here I am, sitting on this panel on the “Benefits and Drawbacks of Teaching the Lyric Essay.” So what am I doing here? In a kind of lyric essay (or just Huff Po, I guess) move, I will put forth those reasons in a brief list form: 1) I don’t like the term “lyric essay” because it was never tremendously clear or helpful to begin with, and because of overuse and mis-application its meaning has become so vague as to be almost useless. 2) I am not comfortable with the ethical murkiness engaged in and promoted by one of the term’s biggest proponents.We thought Bending Genre’s webiste would be a great place to reproduce them.Thanks again to Sally Ashton and Dinty Moore for bringing attention to our panel. Here’s what I mean: I have never taught a class whose title or subtitle contained the words “lyric essay,” although I have taught several classes in which what others might call “the lyric essay” has been studied abundantly.