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Phillip Lopate on eclectic curiosities and the old-school essayists

The other phrase to define, a much broader term, creative nonfiction, is a concept that offers great flexibility and freedom, while adhering to the basic tenets of nonfiction writing and/or reporting. In creative nonfiction, writers can be poetic and journalistic simultaneously. Creative nonfiction writers are encouraged to utilize fictional (literary) techniques in their prose - from scene to dialogue to description to point-of-view - and be cinematic at the same time. Creative nonfiction writers write about themselves and/or capture real people and real life in ways that can and have changed the world. What is most important and enjoyable about creative nonfiction is that it not only allows, but encourages the writer to become a part of the story or essay being written. The personal involvement creates a special magic that alleviates the suffering and anxiety of the writing experience; it provides many outlets for satisfaction and self-discovery, flexibility and freedom.

The writers in this issue represent the incredible range of the newly emerging genre of creative nonfiction, from the struggle and success stories of Darcy Frey ("The Last Shot") and William Least Heat-Moon ("Blue Highways") to the master of the profession, John McPhee. From the roots of traditional journalism to poetry and fiction, Pulitzer Prize-winner Alice Steinbach, poet Diane Ackerman and novelists Phillip Lopate and Paul West, have helped expand the boundaries of form and tradition. Jane Bernstein, Steven Harvey, Mary Paumier Jones, Wendy Lesser and Natalia Rachel Singer ponder the spirit of the essay (and e-mail!), while I continue to reflect on and define the creative nonfiction form.

Throughout this essay one can learn a lot through the story that Phillip Lopate wrote.

Phillip Lopate - Opinionator - The New York Times

You are one of the big reasons why the personal essay is now flourishing everywhere.

When I refer to creative nonfiction, I include memoir (autobiography), and documentary drama, a term more often used in relation to film, as in "Hoop Dreams," which captures the lives of two inner-city high school basketball players over a six-year period. Much of what is generically referred to as "literary journalism" or in the past, "new journalism," can be classified as creative nonfiction. Although it is the current vogue in the world of writing today, the combination of creative nonfiction as a form of writing and immersion as a method of research has a long history. George Orwell's famous essay, "Shooting an Elephant" combines personal experience and high quality literary writing techniques. The Daniel DeFoe classic, "Robinson Crusoe," is based upon a true story of a physician who was marooned on a desert island. Ernest Hemingway's paean to bullfighting, "Death in the Afternoon," comes under the creative nonfiction umbrella, as does Tom Wolfe's, "The Right Stuff," which was made into an award-winning film. Other well-known creative nonfiction writers, who may utilize immersion techniques include John McPhee ("Coming Into the Country"), Tracy Kidder ("House"), Diane Ackerman ("A Natural History of the Senses") and Pulitzer Prize winner Annie Dillard ("Pilgrim at Tinker Creek"), to name only a few of the many authors who have contributed to this burgeoning genre.

"The Essayist at Work" is our first special issue. The cover is different, and although it is our habit to center each issue around a general theme, the essays and profiles in "The Essayist at Work" are narrower in scope. In the future, we intend to publish special issues on a variety of topics, but this one is especially important, not only because it is our first, but also because it helps to launch the first Mid-Atlantic Creative Nonfiction Summer Writers' Conference with the Goucher College Center for Graduate and Continuing Studies in Baltimore, Md., a supportive and enthusiastic summer partner. Many writers featured in "The Essayist at Work" will also be participating at the conference - an event we hope to continue to co-sponsor with Goucher for years to come.

The Essay, an Exercise in Doubt By Phillip Lopate.

The first "R" has already been explained and discussed: the "immersion" or "real life" aspect of the writing experience. As a writing teacher, I design assignments that have a real-life aspect: I force my students out into their communities for an hour, a day, or even a week so that they see and understand that the foundation of good writing emerges from personal experience. Some writers (and students) may utilize their own personal experience rather than immersing themselves in the experiences of others. In a recent introductory class I taught, one young man working his way through school as a sales person wrote about selling shoes, while another student, who served as a volunteer in a hospice, captured a dramatic moment of death, grief and family relief. I've sent my students to police stations, bagel shops, golf courses; together, my classes have gone on excursions and participated in public service projects - all in an attempt to experience or re-create from personal experience real life.

determined by performing the art of the personal essay phillip lopate pdf bizarre developmental experiments, geology.

In contrast to the term "reportage," the word "essay" usually connotes a more personal message from writer to reader. "An essay is when I write what I think about something," students will often say to me. Which is true, to a certain extent - and also the source of the meaning of the second "R" for "reflection." A writer's feelings and responses about a subject are permitted and encouraged, as long as what they think is written to embrace the reader in a variety of ways. As editor of Creative Nonfiction, I receive approximately 150 unsolicited essays, book excerpts and profiles a month for possible publication. Of the many reasons the vast majority of these submissions are rejected, two are most prevalent, the first being an overwhelming egocentrism; in other words, writers write too much about themselves without seeking a universal focus or umbrella so that readers are properly and firmly engaged. Essays that are so personal that they omit the reader are essays that will never see the light of print. The overall objective of the personal essayist is to make the reader tune in - not out.

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Essays and criticism on Phillip Lopate - Hayden Carruth


The Art of the Personal Essay by Phillip Lopate - …

This is true not only of my sympathy but of my capacity for mysticism and spirituality. When I’m with somebody I’m usually reading that person in waves, instinctual waves that are telling me a lot—not always accurately, because of my own projections and prejudices, but the point is that I am experiencing these waves. The same thing could be said about my relationship to the universe or any larger experience. I’m intellectually skeptical of transcendence, of redemption, of all these words. And yet I go through life still aware that the aperture is open to some degree. I think this is self-protective on my part.

Gerald Peary - essays - Phillip Lopate

BOMB Magazine has been publishing conversations between artists of all disciplines since 1981. BOMB’s founders—New York City artists and writers—decided to publish dialogues that reflected the way practitioners spoke about their work among themselves. Today, BOMB is a nonprofit, multi-platform publishing house that creates, disseminates, and preserves artist-generated content from interviews to artists’ essays to new literature. BOMB includes a quarterly print magazine, a daily online publication, and a digital archive of its previously published content from 1981 onward.

Phillip lopate essays about life | Coleman Law Firm

BOMB Magazine has been publishing conversations between artists of all disciplines since 1981. BOMB’s founders—New York City artists and writers—decided to publish dialogues that reflected the way practitioners spoke about their work among themselves. Today, BOMB is a nonprofit, multi-platform publishing house that creates, disseminates, and preserves artist-generated content from interviews to artists’ essays to new literature. BOMB includes a quarterly print magazine, a daily online publication, and a digital archive of its previously published content from 1981 onward.

Phillip Lopate on Leonard Lopate, in Brothers: 26 …

The personal essay is the kind of form that constitutes a friendship between the writer and the reader. So I’m trying to enact friendships through my writing.

Portrait Inside My Head: Essays Phillip Lopate

The second reason Creative Nonfiction and most other journals and magazines reject essays is a lack of attention to the mission of the genre, which is to gather and present information, to teach readers about a person, place, idea or situation combining the creativity of the artistic experience with the essential third "R" in the formula: "Research."

Robert Saba, Associate Director, Undergraduate Writing Programs

The curmudgeonly impulse is partly the urge to do mischief. So instead of bragging about my sexual prowess, to put it in perspective, I’m always looking for something a little different, mischievous, unexpected. That means creating a persona for myself that is not completely socialized or not completely what you would expect—it’s certainly not always heroic. But then I still have to be sufficiently likable that the reader will not throw the book down in disgust. It means walking a tightrope.

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