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What is a lyric essay? An essay that has a lyrical style? An essay that plays with form in a way that resembles poetry more than prose? Both of these? Or something else entirely? The works in this anthology show lyric essays rely more on intuition than exposition, use image more than narration, and question more than answer. But despite all this looseness, the lyric essay still has responsibilities—to try to reveal something, to play with ideas, or to show a shift in thinking, however subtle. The whole of a lyric essay adds up to more than the sum of its parts.
In A Harp in the Stars, Randon Billings Noble has collected lyric essays written in four different forms—flash, segmented, braided, and hermit crab—from a range of diverse writers. The collection also includes a section of craft essays—lyric essays about lyric essays. And because lyric essays can be so difficult to pin down, each contributor has supplemented their work with a short meditation on this boundary-breaking form.
About the Author
Randon Billings Noble is on the faculty of the MFA in Nonfiction Program at Goucher College and teaches in the Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing Program at West Virginia Wesleyan College. She is the author of Be with Me Always: Essays (Nebraska, 2019) and the chapbook Devotional.
“I’ve been searching for a book like this for over twenty years. Its remarkable dazzle—a sharp, eclectic anthology combined with whip-smart craft essays—carves out a fascinating look into the bright heart of what the lyric essay can be.”—Aimee Nezhukumatathil, author of World of Wonders
“Perhaps the best way to define the lyric essay—a notoriously borderless, slippery literary form—is to gather several dozen finely written examples that invite the reader to engage in acts of mapping and naming themselves. This anthology does just that, with the added bonuses of thought-provoking craft pieces with decidedly lyric bents and a special attention to intersections of the lyric and the personal. I can easily imagine assigning this book in any forward-thinking class, graduate or undergraduate, that involves writing or analyzing expressive prose.”—Elena Passarello, author of Let Me Clear My Throat: Essays
“Randon Billings Noble has assembled a stellar collection of lyric essays that truly highlights the best these forms have to offer. This book will be pulled from my shelf again and again—for my own reading and as a resource for my students.”—Brenda Miller, author of An Earlier Life
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