When Death Comes

Death is a strange thing the first time we encounter it. Of course there had been distant relatives, a great-grandmother, someone’s elderly uncle. And the pets that had preceded me in my parents’ lives and towards which, as a small child, I had always felt a vague competition. But when I was nine or tenContinue reading “When Death Comes”

Why Safe Communities for Artists Matter

When I began my Accessible MFA last fall, I had two reasons. First, chronic migraines limit my functionality to the point that sometimes I can’t work for days, weeks, or even months. Keeping up with graduate-level coursework and meeting weekly deadlines is no longer possible. Second, I can’t afford it. With the struggle to workContinue reading “Why Safe Communities for Artists Matter”

What’s the Point of Literary Theory Anyway?

Literary theory is a trip. I just spent a year studying this for the first semester of my Accessible MFA. I watched Professor Paul Fry’s 26 introductory lectures at Yale. I created a JSTOR account (for free) so that I could read most of the assigned readings. And I bought The Norton Anthology of TheoryContinue reading “What’s the Point of Literary Theory Anyway?”

To the Guy in My MFA Class* Who Believes Art “Has Nothing to Do with Race”

Since the 1930s Formalism has positioned literary art as independent of author, era, and even possibly meaning. It promises that if readers would just focus on structure, symbols, and tensions within the text itself, all will be clear. Although this approach still holds sway in literature and creative writing classes, Critical Race Theory has challengedContinue reading “To the Guy in My MFA Class* Who Believes Art “Has Nothing to Do with Race””

The Trauma of Being Here

How can a white person with chronic illness support Black Lives Matter? When others are suffering, how can you support them when you yourself are barely functioning? What is the right thing to do? The answer can’t be nothing. Even if, on some days, that’s all you’re capable of. It just can’t be. Some readersContinue reading “The Trauma of Being Here”

Candice Carty-Williams Wows with QUEENIE

A brilliant interrogation of the “chick lit” genre, Queenie starts off slow, with the usual plot points: career woman struggles with career and the quest for the perfect life and the perfect man. But about 100 pages in, Candace Carty-Williams begins to unravel this aggressively normative genre. And by the novel’s midpoint, Queenie is beginning to question her entireContinue reading “Candice Carty-Williams Wows with QUEENIE”

Trump: All the Signs of an Abuser

TRIGGERING CONTENT Today is the eleventh day of the year. The same year that Donald J. Trump faces the looming prospect of a lost, or at least contentious, election. There is talk of an impending recession in the United States. He sits in the White House under impeachment due to multiple abuses of power. AccordingContinue reading “Trump: All the Signs of an Abuser”

When Literary Criticism Doesn’t Work

I first read James Wood’s How Fiction Works nearly ten years ago, shortly after it was published. And it hasn’t aged well. It probably didn’t help that the first time I picked it up, I assumed it was a volume of criticism from the 1950s or 1960s Reading it this time around for my MFA has been,Continue reading “When Literary Criticism Doesn’t Work”

Ways of Reading: Part I

I started my first MFA class with a pretty clear idea of how things were going to go. Literary theory. Okay. I’d studied this during my undergrad degree. Cool. A bunch of dead white guys from Europe and North America will talk endlessly about what they think a text is, what the job of anContinue reading “Ways of Reading: Part I”

The End of Family

The last time I saw my father was in Austin, Texas. I was 25. My brother and I flew down to see our parents with high hopes for their happiness. They said they loved the city, that they loved the pace of it, that they were happier there than in their Seattle suburb. My brotherContinue reading “The End of Family”