Genre: Essays

Campus Maximus

Early on the morning of Saturday, April 19, 1969, in a heavy mist that would soon yield to freezing rain, five students in Cornell University’s Afro-American Society entered Willard Straight Hall, the school’s student union, through a back door left …

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So Near the Soil

Soon after I purchased land in southwestern Wisconsin, a stranger from Missouri called me. “I’m your farm’s manager,” he said with a drawl. He had helped the widow who’d owned my property before me. Would I like to keep him …

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Babi la Belle

If ever he writes a memoir, it will reliably contain the falsehood that in 2019 he quit the United States for Côte d’Ivoire to sit out the coronavirus pandemic. Also, perhaps that he wished to elude a great—and imminent—North American …

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Change of Address


I spoke to Adrienne Rich just once, after a reading she gave at the University of Virginia in April 1998. The line in the auditorium to have her sign my copy of The Fact of a Doorframe was long. …

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The Star Essay

Every man and every woman is a star.
              —Aleister Crowley, Liber AL vel Legis (The Book of the Law), I:3

Hey little star, don’t be afraid
We all fall apart and make mistakes 
                                 —Robyn, “In My Eyes” 


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Where I Went Wrong


In telling the story of where I went wrong, my mom drew two lines to mark the turning points that led me down a singular, inevitable path toward a male babysitter who drew no lines at all. 

One “if …

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