What are we growing?


Green Gulch Farm                                           Photo Credit: Catherine Keefe

These snippets are taken from the prologue of The Best American Essays, Seventh College Edition, edited by Robert Atwan. They’re gathered under the title “Essayists on the Essay.”

“What is an essay…All you can safely say is that it’s not poetry and it’s not fiction.” -Justine Kaplan

“…essays take their tone and momentum from the explicit presence of the writer in them and the distinctiveness of each writer’s perspective.” – Susan Orlean

“I am predisposed to the essay with knowledge to impart…” – Joyce Carol Oates

“An essay is not a scientific document…More than being instructive, as a magazine article is, an essay has a slant, a seasoned personality behind it that ought to weather well.” -Edward Hoagland

“Essays, in the end, are not monologues.” – Edwidge Danticat

“A genuine essay feels less like a monologue than a dialogue between writer and reader.” – Kathleen Norris

“There’s nothing you cannot do with it; no subject matter is forbidden, no structure is proscribed.” – Annie Dillard

“We speak a good deal these days of the loss of community, and many of us feel that we have lost therefore something very precious. Essays can move us back into this not-quite-lost realm.” – Mary Oliver

“The material is the world itself…” Annie Dillard

About Catherine Keefe

Catherine Keefe is the founding and managing editor of *dirtcakes* a journal of poetry, creative nonfiction, art and photography. Her creative nonfiction essays, interviews and book reviews have appeared nationally. She teaches undergraduates how to Write About Literature, or Write Creative Nonfiction, or Compose Self at Chapman University in Orange, CA.
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