Write an essay that moves in an associate rather than linear way. Experiment with lyric elements such as
fragmentation, objective observation, imagery, metaphor, sound and/or rhythm. Feel free to use memory,
as well as material from outside your personal experience. Length can be as short or long as your
narrative/meditation requires; for the sake of time constraints in workshop, however, you probably want
to keep your essay under 8 pages. Please bring four copies to class. Due: Tuesday, October 8
It is all right to let your form evolve from your content. You might have to write for a little bit and
experiment with what you are writing before the how becomes clear.
It is all right to let your content evolve from your form. If you are normally a pretty linear writer, and
feel a bit intimidated about experimenting with a “collage” or “braided essay,” remember Ralph
Fletcher’s words, “when the writing gets tough, become a reader.” Study the work of the writers we
have read so far; Ryan VanMeter, Charles Simic, Darcy Courteau, Samantha Irby, Eula Biss, and
Dinty Moore are all great mentors for this assignment.
It is all right if you are not initially sure what you are writing toward. You will probably need to
spend some writing time with the potential “parts” of your essay before you know how they might
work together as a whole.
It is all right to write an essay that asks questions but does not answer them: “The lyric essay takes
the subjectivity of the personal essay and the objectivity of the public essay, and conflates them both
into a literary form that relies on both art and fact—on imagination and observation, rumination and
argumentation, human faith and human perception . . . The result of this ironic parentage is that lyric
essays seek answers, yet the seldom seem to find them.” –John D’Agata, Editor of the Seneca