Friday, May 14, 2021

The #Midwessay: Christine Hume, A Metonymic Manifesto

We're back for round 2 of #Midwessay coverage starting back up this week, in which we re/visit essays and essayists from Midwestern states and those of us still in Midwestern states even if we live elsewhere. In our first round we published one week in each state, and now we're swinging back through to continue. Up this week is Michigan, coordinated by Ander Monson. Are you a Michigander? A Michiganian? Do you have thoughts or feelings about our fair water-bordered state and its literature? If an essay captures the workings of the mind, what is the mind of Michigan? Be in touch and send us something.


A Metonymic Manifesto

Christine Hume


The midwessay: like a glitch, a lisp, a non-native accent, speech marked by impediment, pebbles in the mouth, too many mouths in the mind, clamoring. You try sounding out the word, continuously discovering the extent of your own incomprehension, so rich it becomes wealth. You contract and expand phonemes spastically, involuntarily smacking your lips mid-pucker where the word blacks out under the force of its own exertion; it sputters and flails around for the right cadence, coming to as you lick its wounds into disobedient shapes, sloppily lapping each syllable off your screen, biting off a new word, this portmanteau:  you chew its scenery. Outside it is snowing, of course, and it has snowed. Outside is ghost-hosting a virus and its variants. Outside something fugitive buried will surface in the spring. The sound of the word embarrasses like most things that come from your body, standing at your desk by the window, stunned in pre-masturbatory glaze, sunning in a post-prandial torpor. The midwessay is that kind of “between,” an essay that comes mid-thinking and st(r)ays because all thought is mid-thought unless it’s your last. The midwessay is the sound of your trying and thinking, raw and never-ending and moving on the page like a mood or a crush or a tornado alarm siren surging into the state of things.

Christine Hume is the author of an experimental memoir in the form of three interlinked essays, Saturation Project (Solid Objects, 2021), as well as three books of poetry. Her last two chapbooks are Question Like a Face (Image Text Ithaca, 2017), a collaboration with Jeff Clark and a Brooklyn Rail Best Nonfiction Book of the Year, and A Different Shade for Each Person Reading the Story (PANK Books, 2020). She recently edited a special issue of the American Book Review on Girlhood and for over twenty years, she’s taught at Eastern Michigan University.

What is the #Midwessay? What is the Midwest? What are the characteristics, if any, of the #Midwessay (the Midwest essay)? What gathers us together? What pulls us apart? Springing from a twitter conversation, we started asking writers and readers what they imagine (or would like to reimagine) as the Midwest and the Midwessay. The #Midwessay is a series of reports from the Midwest (whatever that is) by and/or about Midwestern essay and essayists (whatever those are). Essay Daily will be publishing these, sorted (loosely) by state, in February 2021 and beyond.  These #Midwessays will be collected here and on a separate site at a later date. If you'd like to submit a report / essay, send it our way. Details and coordinators for each state are listed here. You can also ping Ander (link at the upper right) if we don't list a coordinator yet for your state. —The Editors

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