Something like water, or the color blue.
With its Fall issue, Seneca Review began to publish what we've chosen to call the lyric essay. The recent burgeoning of creative nonfiction and the personal essay has yielded a fascinating sub-genre that straddles the essay and the lyric poem. These "poetic essays" or "essayistic poems" give primacy to artfulness over the conveying of information.
They forsake narrative line, discursive logic, and the art of persuasion in favor of idiosyncratic meditation. The lyric essay partakes of the poem in its density and shapeliness, its distillation of ideas and musicality of language.
It partakes of the essay in its weight, in its overt desire to engage with facts, melding its allegiance to the actual with its passion for imaginative form.
The lyric essay does not expound. It may merely mention.
As Helen Vendler says of the lyric poem, "It depends on gaps. It is suggestive rather than exhaustive. Generally it is short, concise and punchy like a prose poem. But it may meander, making use of other genres when they serve its purpose: Given its genre mingling, the lyric essay often accretes by fragments, taking shape mosaically - its import visible only when one stands back and sees it whole.
The stories it tells may be no more than metaphors. Or, storyless, it may spiral in on itself, circling the core of a single image or idea, without climax, without a paraphrasable theme.
The lyric essay stalks its subject like quarry but is never content to merely explain or confess. It elucidates through the dance of its own delving.
Loyal to that original sense of essay as a test or a quest, an attempt at making sense, the lyric essay sets off on an uncharted course through interlocking webs of idea, circumstance, and language - a pursuit with no foreknown conclusion, an arrival that might still leave the writer questioning.
While it is ruminative, it leaves pieces of experience undigested and tacit, inviting the reader's participatory interpretation. Its voice, spoken from a privacy that we overhear and enter, has the intimacy we have come to expect in the personal essay.
Yet in the lyric essay the voice is often more reticent, almost coy, aware of the compliment it pays the reader by dint of understatement. What has pushed the essay so close to poetry? Perhaps we're drawn to the lyric now because it seems less possible and rewarding to approach the world through the front door, through the myth of objectivity.
The life span of a fact is shrinking; similitude often seems more revealing than verisimilitude. We turn to the artist to reconcoct meaning from the bombardments of experience, to shock, thrill, still the racket, and tether our attention.
We turn to the lyric essay - with its malleability, ingenuity, immediacy, complexity, and use of poetic language - to give us a fresh way to make music of the world. But we must be willing to go out on an artistic limb with these writers, keep our balance on their sometimes vertiginous byways.
What he says of the poem could well be said of the lyric essay: The poem holds its ground on its own margin The poem is lonely.
It is lonely and en route. Its author stays with it. If the reader is willing to walk those margins, there are new worlds to be found. You may submit poems and essays electronically through Submittable.Once the term “lyric essay” became institutionalized by journals like Seneca Review, a writer could sit down and intend to write a lyric essay.
Maybe she’d already been doing so, with or without the term in mind, but now she could write with more clarity about her aims and audience. Seneca Review, founded in by James Crenner and Ira Sadoff, is published twice yearly, spring and fall, by Hobart and William Smith Colleges Press..
Distributed internationally, the magazine's emphasis is poetry, and the editors have a special interest in translations of contemporary poetry from around the world. This fall, these “two wonderful but historically separate entities” were bridged, Babbitt says, as students in his course on small press publishing became acquisition editors for the inaugural Seneca Review Deborah Tall Lyric Essay Book Prize.
Once the term “lyric essay” became institutionalized by journals like Seneca Review, a writer could sit down and intend to write a lyric essay. Maybe she’d already been doing so, with or without the term in mind, but now she could .
Seneca Review is an internationally distributed magazine with an emphasis on poetry and the lyric essay. Publisher of numerous laureates and award-winning poets, including Seamus Heaney, Rita Dove, Jorie Graham, Yusef Komunyakaa, Lisel Mueller, Wislawa Szymborska, Charles Simic, W.S.
Merwin, and Eavan Boland, Seneca Review also . (For more information, see our reprint of "Seneca Review Promotes Lyric Essay" from Poets & Writers Magazine.).
With its Fall issue, Seneca Review began to publish what we've chosen to call the lyric leslutinsduphoenix.com recent burgeoning of creative nonfiction and the personal essay has yielded a fascinating sub-genre that straddles the essay and the lyric poem.