At this point, it’s perversity that keeps me writing.
That’s a particular problem with English people: they seem to think that everyone in Ireland is a writer
I like to say that this is my ‘fuck you’ book.
The Empathy Exams, a new collection of essays by Leslie Jamison, gets its title from a piece about medical acting that was published in The Believer. On the Harper’s blog, you can read an interview with Jamison, who calls her collection “a refusal to choose between these approaches — criticism, confession, journalism.” (Michelle Huneven interviewed Jamison for The Millions a couple of years ago.)
Any of these authors could face death, ostracism, or loss of their jobs. None of us know who will win the elections on April 5th, what forward movement in Afghanistan may be turned backward, how much openness will be tolerated, what protections will be in place for those who’ve worked closely with Americans, or were educated by them. That’s why you can’t be stupid. You have to weigh the cultural parameters without tacitly assuming or enforcing them.
Canadian writers as a whole do not trust Nature. They are always suspecting some dirty trick.
Poems are adept at expressing interior conflict, at enacting complex thought, at feeling strongly through not-knowing—but somehow, when we enter the territory of politics, we expect our poems to shill for votes, to argue strongly for particular beliefs. Emily Dickinson does not know if there is a god or a void, an afterlife, a stasis, or a zero at the bone. But reading her theologically inflected poems allows us to wrestle with these unanswerable questions with her—and to come out not with answers, but with a deeper sense of the questions.
I couldn’t care less really if I’ve disillusioned you. It is within your gift not to read the book. So really, it didn’t give me the minimum pause for thought.