Poetry as both a form and genre has many possibilities to exist within; however, poetry too oftentimes has the burden to have an argument and a set of imagery and meanings that are preconceived and placed within the poem. In this way, poetry gets conflated with writing a thesis or project, and the poet simply the presenter of perfectly argued language. In addition, when poets attempt to bridge the gap between genres and write within the contemporary essay form, they are tasked to construct perfect arguments there as well and avoid the associative and aesthetic logic that makes poems important. The term essay itself was coined by Michel de Montaigne in the 1500s, and it comes from the French word, essai, which means to test or experiment with what one knows as a learning tool (and is in some opposition to the terms we use to discuss the essay now, such as thesis). As we move forward, deeper into this new century, I want our thinkers and writers to move beyond this linear thinking into the realm of what an essay by someone like Montaigne might do. His essays do as they say they will—they test out ideas, they are unafraid to get messy in their execution, they are brave enough to go forward into the uncharted waters. In them, it’s completely beside the point to get back to where they started, let alone where they’d say they would go. They are simply beside the point. It’s true.
Contributors Include: Ariel Goldberg, Ken Chen, Wayne Koestenbaum, Tracie Morris, Anaïs Duplan, Raquel Salas Rivera, Brandon Shimoda, Cecilia Vicuña, Fred Moten, and Mónica de la Torre
Nonfiction. Essays. Literary Criticism