Momina Mela writes on the gendered misconceptions about confessional poetry. As she puts it, “In comparison to female confessional poets, male confessional poetry has been regarded with less ridicule as accusations of being merely therapeutic. This is often due to the detachment which occurs with the adoption of personas, even though female poets such as Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath and even Sharon Olds integrate the use of personas in their work as well.” Also check out this Millions essay on the poetry of mental unhealth.
“There is one rule [to writing biography] that all who try their hand at it come to know: until the protagonist reveals his or her character—his or her inner self—what the biographer produces is less a life than a report, an autopsy rather than the record of a séance.” David Levering Lewis writes for The American Scholar about biography and writing “the lives of African-American figures, and [finding] in them the story of our times.”
Recommended Reading: Mary Addison Hackett reflects on heroin and harm reduction at n+1. “It is clear that no one — no neuroscientist, psychologist, psychiatrist, or physician — can explain what addiction is or account for its contradictions. Tobacco, cocaine, heroin, alcohol, MDMA, amphetamines — are they inherently addictive? Common knowledge suggests they are. But all around me I see exceptions more than the rule, my friends who use, have used, some or all of these drugs, including heroin, casually. I, too, am one of the exceptions.”
In the Fall 2015 issue of n+1, Adam Ehrlich Sachs explores the idea of inherited disorders through nine short pieces. An excerpt: “He wanted the reader to think to himself: ‘I just read about the Holocaust. Why am I picturing this fern? What is the matter with me?’ Such was the literary effect he was aiming for.”