We include the descriptions here in case you're interested in contributing to one of these features. If so, send Craig or Ander an email at right and we'll direct it to whichever editor you'd like (or Sarah has provided her email below for direct contact).
Roland Barthes and James Baldwin. Etel Adnan and Hervé Guibert. Fernando Pessoa, Virginia Woolf, Samuel Delany, Hélène Cixous, Gloria Anzaldúa. And I want to say Anne Carson but that's not really true, I don't think.
For my series, I’m interested in better understanding the essay’s queer past, it’s queer contemporary moment, and it’s queer potentialities. To this end, I’ll be soliciting some queer essayists to be in conversation with each other through critical writing, interviews, and the like. There’s no singular queerness, no particular way the “I” and the mode and the form of essays shift when queer, but it’s exciting to look at how queer affection and ways of being influence a genre that is, at its core, so much about weird minds figuring out an equally weird world.
I cannot tell if nonfiction has fewer rules or more than other genres. While it has the big “rule” (Do not lie) it doesn’t have the history of convention that poetry or fiction seem to have. Any fictional piece without plot or character is experimental. Use white space, says the poem. Make the poem turn! Lyric is sonic, says the poem.
If nonfiction draws on the conventions of the other genres—uses scene, dialogue, white space, turn, then perhaps essay writing is just a hybrid genre. But when it breaks the rules of its borrowed genres, is it creating its own genre? For instance, when I asked a bunch of writer-friends about breaking the writing rules, they noted egregious examples like writing from two points of view using second person for both POVs or breaking the veil and talking directly to the reader, jumping topics mid-stream, banging too hard on the metaphorical nail, or foregoing narrative entirely. I love the breaking of rules but I also love the acknowledgment and recognition of them. Without the rules, where does one begin to write instead of just drool upon the page?
I’m curating a few essays for Essay Daily’s website and wonder if you’d be interested in writing a brief essay about rules, convention, genre and structure. What structures do you use to give your essays form and substance? When does weird get too weird? What rules do you use just so you can break them later? What does rule-breaking artistic-wise mean about the big rule—“Nonfiction is the truth”?
Sarah Minor [email]:
Elsewhere known as a graphic/video/typographic essay, a comic, an artist's book, a public art text, prose graffiti, vis-po, concrete prose poetry, etc., the visual essay is not a new form, just one that we have a lot of words for naming with little streamlining across disciplines. This may not be the best term. Still:
--Is a good visual essay fine art, or is it literature? What might it mean to be both?
--Are visual essays wrong? Are they for sale? Are they doing it for attention?
--Are they published? Where? What exactly do you mean?
--How are they performed aloud?
--How are Columban monks, William Blake, and Mark Twain involved?
--Why do some attempts at combining text with visual media seem rather put-on or excessive? And how does anyone make the two parts sing in harmony, or run an equal partnership, or at least get each other off once in a while?
Well, this all sounds exciting, no? Check back next week for T's first installment, then Nicole on 10/27, then Sarah on 11/17. And if you have ideas for essays/essayists you'd like to pitch, drop us a line.