Essay on Early Twenties at LEVELER


Now up at LEVELER a zuihitsu called Essay on Early Twenties 

I can’t wait to see what the editors have to say about the piece in the “levelheaded” section of the site. If you’re not familiar with LEVELER I suggest a you take a look-see.

From the editors:

…each poem published by LEVELER is accompanied by a brief note on our selection entitled levelheaded. Here we look at what a poem conveys and how. In no way do we claim levelheaded is a final, authoritative take on any corresponding poem. Instead, we hope to provide readers with another way into the poem, thereby encouraging closer readings, and ultimately, challenges to our findings.

When considering poems for publication in LEVELER, we try to approach every poem on its own terms. We feel a poem. We think about a poem. Part of our thinking involves attempting to surmise what a poem wants to achieve and determining, based on the poetic strategies employed, how close that poem comes to fulfilling its goals. While our process is necessarily subjective, we make a point not to let our limited predispositions dictate what we publish.
Cool, right?
I wrote a blog post and prompt about zuihitsu a several couple few years ago. I’m going to re-post it here for you now. Feel free to contact me with questions, comments, little emoji hearts-in-the-eyes faces.

Zuihitsu, pronounced ZOO-HIT-SUE, is a Japanese writing form often described as the “running brush” or “following the brush.”

This is a form with few strict rules, but there are a few perimeters that you might check-in to. “There’s no Western equivalent [to zuihitsu], though some people might wish to categorize it as a prose poem or an essay,” says Kimiko Hahn author of The Narrow Road to the Interior (the awesome poetry book where I first encountered the form), “…some of its characteristics: a kind of randomness that is not really random, but a feeling of randomness; a pointed subjectivity that we don’t normally associate with the essay. The zuihitsu can also resemble other Western forms: lists, journals. I’ve added emails to the mix. Fake emails.” To help you form a better picture of a zuithitsu here is one of Hahn’s:

Boerum Hill, Late Summer
 Kimiko Hahn

 I miss most the outdoor shower. Nine at night. A light rain over the
 spray. A light from the bedroom window where he reads about

 I would cut and carry home all the weeds along the Gowanus
 Canal—if the guys from the cement factory weren’t watching
 me over their thick sandwiches.

 Even in Brooklyn we hear cicadas—whose young suck the roots of
 trees for seventeen years. No curfew. And no disputes.

PROMPT: Write a zuihitsu based on your favorite place that you’ve never been. 

And let the title serve as an indication of the place, such as  “Boerum Hill, Late Summer.” (I’m not suggesting that the speaker in Hahn’s poem has never been to Boerum Hill, I’m suggesting you write IN DETAIL about the best place you’ve never traveled to. Ya dig?)

I like titling your piece after the place name because I think it provides some grounding for the zuihitsu, where randomness is soon to follow. Or rather that feeling of randomness that isn’t really random. Just as a hot dog isn’t really a dog. And the San Diego Chargers don’t really belong in Los Angeles. *Yes, insert side-eye here*

Have fun. Be free! (WHILE YOU STILL CAN).

Read my zuihitsu here.