Syllabus: Using Poetry and Fiction to Encourage Experiments in Nonfiction
“I’ve always been fascinated by less easily defined books—writing that combines genres, or writing that’s so good it seems to simply transcend its own classifications.”
Gulf Coast Journal
Letters to Wendy’s
There may be no you—no other to receive and understand these revelations of myself. The Post Office may burn them for all I know. It’s not important. I only need you as a good idea—to make me apparent. I love you, even if you don’t understand me, even if you burn my attempts to reach you, even if you are no one, nowhere. After all, I burn my hands by the same fires.
I Love Dick—to
Hard to Admit & Harder to Escape
Finally the person is famous. I read his books and think I know him. I fall in love with the famous person’s photograph. I attend his events and write desperate letters. I ask questions of those who know him, hoping to learn what I cannot learn. My shame feels like love to me. This shame is the best part of my life. If I call it love, it will no longer be shameful.
Things to Make & Break
When he tells me about Holly for the first time, we’re at the movies sitting too close to the screen. We’re watching the trailers and he’s tracing the shapes on the sensitive part of my wrist with his thumb. Every one of his exes has a —they’ve been molested or are a cellist or something. Holly shattered seventeen bones falling from a trapeze. She was wearing a cast and working in a library when he met her. Ten weeks later, when all the bones were knit, he finally saw her do her act. That’s when he dumped her. He doesn’t say, but I guess she must have looked too free and capable up there, swinging from the ropes. A girl like that could never honestly need you.
Desire doesn’t come from the longing to possess, or even to be possessed, which already implies a more burning imbrication, tangling up, the fusional scattering of flesh. No. Desire comes from the excessive novelty which makes all hope of a possible fornication be like the promise of a new life.
You are dizzy from a strange rush of hot blood in your stomach and the closeness to something as fundamental as this canyon. You were not prepared to feel anything other than pedestrian amusement, and it weakens you in your spine and legs. Clutching your stomach through your shirt you say to yourself, There is too much of the earth missing here, and I just don’t want to know about it.
Chelsea Hodson is the author of the book of essays Tonight I'm Someone Else. She teaches in the MFA program at Bennington College and she is one of the co-founders of the Mors Tua Vita Mea workshop in Sezze Romano, Italy. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Frieze Magazine, Black Warrior Review, Lit Hub, and elsewhere.