Dan Chiasson, Natural History

He tried on the confessional style for a while.

If people hurt you, tell on them: perhaps you'll heal.
If language hurts you, make the damage real.

("XV. Rnadall Jarrell")

Or is poetry picking the scarcest word

("'Scared by the Smallest Shriek of a Pig, and When Wounded, Always Give Ground")


Daniel Mendelsohn, The Lost: A Search for Six in Six Million

As we all started eating dessert, she turned to me and said, But how will you tell it? Before I had a chance to answer, she told me about some friends she had in New York, people her age, whose family had stories--terrible stories, she said--about the war. Now these people had a child, Alena went on, a daughter in her early twenties, who'd just taken a degree in literature, and who had written her thesis about her grandmother, the one who'd suffered those terrible things. Alena said that this young woman had given her the thesis to read, and while reading it she had been struck by something.

She said, It was like what she was interested in was not so much the story of her grandmother but how to tell the story of her grandmother--how to be the storyteller.


Terry Tempest Williams, River Music

I am no longer content to sit, but stand and walk, walk to the river, surrender my body to water now red, red is the Colorado, blood of my veins.


Ryan Haberman, "Sleeping in Candela," Black Warrior Review 35.1

Nobody had an interest in water following the floods. Mostly there were fires. The sky turned black. I fished and the fish didn't bite. For days, all I reeled in were lost fishing poles.


Brian Evenson, "Legion," Black Warrior Review 35.1

The only way this will make sense to you is if I tell the story not how I understand it now, but tailor it to the way my research suggests you think. But then, if I am not careful, it becomes a story which, while starting to reveal something, will still always miss the point.

Be that as it may. Considering what our interactions are soon to be, we should make an effort.


Liz Countryman, "We Were Filled with Longing for the Previous Night," Black Warrior Review 35.1

A naked guy with a beard salutes from a poster
and sometimes I talk to him, other times I don't feel like it.
Every morning the birds want something so loudly
it makes everyone get up.

[MFA Thesis pdf link]


Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Could the tiny birds be sifting through me right now, birds winging through the gaps between my cells, touching nothing, but quickening in my tissues, fleet?


Ben Mirov, "Sleepless Night Ghost," Caketrain #6

If we are ever in a car together, I hope light pours through the windshield.


Jean Genet, The Thief's Journal

"But where does he get that spit," I would ask myself, "where does he bring it up from? Mine will never have the unctuousness or color of his. It will merely be spun glassware, transparent and fragile."


Edith Wharton, "Mrs. Manstey's View," The New York Stories of Edith Wharton

On one occasion her feelings were racked by the neglect of a housemaid, who for two days forgot to feed the parrot committed to her care. On the third day, Mrs. Manstey, in spite of her gouty hand, had just penned a letter, beginning: "Madam, it is now three days since your parrot has been fed," when the forgetful maid appeared at the window with a cup of seed in her hand.