Blanchfield writes single-subject essays from memory (no internet usage here!), remembering and misremembering, on things like tumbleweeds, peripersonal space, containment, and house-sitting. He’s playing with Barthes’s concept of “idiorhythmy,” or the individual and the community, and reminds us to consider our selves — exterior and interior — as mirrored in perceptual patterns around us. If that’s not enough to convince you, read the blurbs by Maggie Nelson and Claudia Rankine. These essays are blunt, brief, driving, and devastating.
Picked by D in Fort Greene
Past compunction, expressly unbeholden, these twenty-four single-subject essays train focus on a startling miscellany of topics --Foot Washing, Dossiers, Br'er Rabbit, Housesitting, Man Roulette, the Locus Amoenus--that begin to unpack the essayist himself and his life's rotating concerns: sex and sexuality, poetry and poetics, subject positions in American labor (not excluding academia), and his upbringing in working-class, Primitive Baptist, central-piedmont North Carolina.
About the Author
Brian Blanchfield is the author of two books of poetry, Not Even Then and A Several World, which received the 2014 James Laughlin Award and was a longlist finalist for the National Book Award. His book of essays, Proxies: Essays Near Knowing, was published in April 2016. Recent essays and poems have appeared in Harper's, BOMB, Guernica, The Nation, Chicago Review, The Brooklyn Rail, A Public Space, The Paris Review, and The Awl. He has taught as core faculty in the graduate writing programs of Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles and at the University of Montana, Missoula, where he was the 2008 Richard Hugo Visiting Poet. A 2016 Whiting Award winner, he lives with his partner John in Moscow, ID, where he is as an assistant professor of English at the University of Idaho.