I just started in on this interview with Lia Purpura. Seriously good stuff here on the craft of essay writing:
“Lia Purpura: The issue of how one discernible genre grows from another is utterly mysterious to me. I’m certain that I’m writing prose, though my essays are called “lyric essays.” In fact, I’ve just written an essay titled “What is a Lyric Essay?” for Seneca Review. In it, I’m making a plea for allowing the form to remain as mysterious as possible. I do mean “mysterious” though in the best way – challenging and magical and able to work on a reader and knit up above the page. I don’t mean at all “unclear” or “sloppy”. The language ought to be as precise as possible in order to affect the most unlikely moves. When I’m writing, an impulse makes itself known as a prose itch or poem-itch. Some failed poems have extended out into prose and found their musculature that way. I don’t think a derailed essay has ever turned itself into a poem.”
As I’m currently re-reading Purpura’s “On Looking” for enjoyment and craft technique, I find passages like this illuminating when itching to craft my own pieces and extend my grasp on how an essay could be. If you have any great examples of lyric essays that move you with their magic and/or that you have written, please drop a comment or two.