T Clutch Fleischmann asks: But Is It An Essay?

T Clutch Fleischmann asks: But Is It An Essay?

The past few months we’ve been following T Clutch Fleischmann’s blog over at The Kenyon Review, where, in a series of posts titled “But is it an essay?”, Fleischmann has assembled a collection of genre-bending or otherwise esoteric texts: Marina Abramovic’s “The Artist is Present” performance, staged at the Museum...
Silent Histories

Silent Histories

by Carla Dominguez Portraits have always been the most popular type of photography. Besides being an excellent preservation of our history, portraits give us permission to stare at people, quietly learning their stories. Hugh Mangum was a self-taught itinerant photographer from Durham, North Carolina who understood the truth that portraits...
Revisiting Don Belton's "Voodoo for Charles"

Revisiting Don Belton’s “Voodoo for Charles”

This week we’ve been remembering the late writer Don Belton, in particular his essay “Voodoo for Charles,” a touching account of one uncle’s fears and muted hopes for his nephew in the face of overwhelming odds. Taken from a 1995 anthology edited by Belton, Speak My Name: Black Men on Masculinity and the American Dream, “Voodoo...
Magnifying Nature to Reveal Its Art

Magnifying Nature to Reveal Its Art

Karl Blossfeldt was a German photographer who, like many others, found inspiration in nature. He believed the plant “never lapses into mere arid functionalism; it fashions and shapes, according to logic and suitability, and with its primeval force, compels everything to attain the highest artistic form.” Born in 1863, Blossfeldt...

Poet Claudia Emerson Sings of Lost Love

In 2006 Claudia Emerson won the Pulitzer Prize in poetry for Late Wife. The deeply personal collection ended with reflections on her second marriage, to Kent Ippolito, a musician who had been widowed by cancer. This morning, Emerson died from complications due to cancer. She was 57, and a much-loved professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, Broad Street’s...
The Real Lolita

The Real Lolita

Here at Broad Street we love reading about the true-life stories that have inspired some of our favorite fiction. That’s why we recommend a recent piece over at Hazlitt investigating the 1948 abduction of Sally Horner, a New Jersey fifth-grader whose kidnapping at the hands of Frank La Salle, along with the trip Horner made...
Marion Post Wolcott Captures Humanity During the Great Depression

Marion Post Wolcott Captures Humanity During the Great Depression

by Jamal Stone Broad Street looks back at the amazing catalogue of photography left behind by Marion Post Wolcott, who passed away twenty-four years ago this week. Wolcott’s legacy is tethered to the work of the Farm Security Administration, a Rooseveltian program meant to collectivize rural farmers in order to help them survive the Great Depression....
Illusion and Reality in Art

Illusion and Reality in Art

by Carla Dominguez There are two main schools of thought about illusions in creative work—schools that often are in opposition.  First, there is a general belief that illusion is essential to art. At the same time, it is also generally accepted that creative works, whether it be writing, visual or performance, are an essential part of truth. It’s...
Ander Monson's "I Have Been Thinking About Snow"

Ander Monson’s “I Have Been Thinking About Snow”

With the arrival of colder weather, we here at Broad Street have been thinking about winter, and by extension, Ander Monson’s delicate lyric essay “I Have Been Thinking About Snow,” from his collection Neck Deep and Other Predicaments, the 2007 winner of the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize. The form of Monson’s essay is defined by a preponderance of ellipsis, criss-crossing...
The Real People Behind Characters

The Real People Behind Characters

It’s common literary practice to use the people around you as inspiration for fictional characters. Sometimes, truth can be more interesting than fiction, and, as writers, we come across people who give us inspiration for a story to tell. These truths might mean more than what one can think up from scratch. Many authors have used the facts of the...
The Floppy Disk Returns Through Art

The Floppy Disk Returns Through Art

by Jamal Stone “Don’t copy that floppy!” A now-hilarious battle cry from 1992 emblematic of technology’s breakneck pace. Today, floppy disks are obsolete doodads, uncovered only when clearing out one’s desk space. Technology doesn’t look back. Go ahead and copy one. But no one told us not to paint on floppy disks. Enter Nick Gentry,...
Reading About Misery

Reading About Misery

by Carla Dominguez Misery lit is a strange genre. The term, ostensibly coined by The Bookseller magazine in the late 2000s, is used to describe biographical literature mostly concerned with the protagonists’ triumph over personal trauma or abuse. Although misery lit as a genre encompasses many types of traumatic stories, the most common storyline is about someone’s life as a child: children with...
New Work by Contributor Maggie Messitt

New Work by Contributor Maggie Messitt

  Check out new work by Broad Street contributor Maggie Messitt, whose essay “Ukufa” appears in our current issue, Hunt, Gather. In “North 20°54, West 156°14,” newly posted at the Bending Genre blog, Messitt traces the mystery of a disappeared aunt through a series of maps, both real and virtual. Surveying the maps tacked to her...
The Andy Warhol-Mama Cass Elliot Project That Never Happened

The Andy Warhol-Mama Cass Elliot Project That Never Happened

Thanks to Longreads we recently came across this Guardian reprint of a fascinating 1967 piece written by Danny Fields for the now-defunct rock magazine Hullabaloo, outlining a series of encounters between Andy Warhol and singer “Mama” Cass Elliot of The Mamas and the Papas and other seminal acts. In a few fleeting scenes Fields charts the...
The Defiance of Genre

The Defiance of Genre

by Jamal Stone Kindred, Octavia Butler’s 1979 best-seller, defies genre conventions. It is an intensely emotional novel that blends elements of sci-fi time travel with an antebellum first-person slave narrative. The novel takes African American protagonist Dana back to slave times at seemingly random intervals, leaving her to survive in a cruel world as she tries...

The Language of Grief

On the occasion of Pacific Northwest writer Charles D’Ambrosio’s new book of essays, Loitering, slated for November release from Tin House, we’re recommending “Documents,” a piece D’Ambrosio contributed to The New Yorker in 2002, and which is included in Loitering. The essay, a delicate yet devastating memoir in fragments, is partially composed of passages culled...