George Dobbs explores the history of some common cliches for The Airship and makes an elegant argument for being aware of overused phrasing: “The worst fiction might never go beyond widely used tropes, but the best fiction starts with an awareness of them.” We agree, and also hope never to read “It was a dark and stormy night…” again.
“I really do hate the idea that black joy itself is a joy derived in spite of. While it may indeed include that, limiting it to such assumes that joy among black people only exists as a defiant response to oppression from white people. I’d rather believe that black folk are capable of this deep supernatural sense without having to be enslaved or disenfranchised.” For the Boston Review, Jericho Brown on poetry and joy.
Emily Smith discusses the place of zines in contemporary American politics, over at Ploughshares. As she puts it, “Zines, like street art, are allowed critical power through anonymity—a function newsstand periodicals simply can’t perform for the sake of reputation or the sacrifice of advertisers. In this way, zines are small-scale democracies.”
The essay is more popular than ever. At Salon, Michele Filgate talks to Leslie Jamison (author of The Empathy Exams, here's our review) and Roxane Gay (author of the forthcoming Bad Feminist) about the power of the genre. Gay believes our interest in essays is because of a "cultural preoccupation with the exposure of the self." They also discuss if we're in a golden age of women essayists. "Sometimes when men write about private feeling, it’s seen as exploratory or daring, and when women write about private feeling it’s seen as limited or in the vein of a kind of circumscribed emotional writing," Jamison says.