Author: Lesley Wheeler

  • Writing/ being a “strong female character”

    One of the students in my senior seminar is exploring representation of female characters in contemporary fiction. On the one hand, there’s pressure to write “likeable” women protagonists. Koa Beck wrote about this for The Atlantic in 2015, quoting an amazing retort from Claire Messud, in response to a journalist’s question about whether anyone would […]

  • Rhyme. Activism. Speculation. Revision. Pumpkins.

    I still don’t have exact dates for my forthcoming essay collection, Poetry’s Possible Worlds, but I can see the light in the distance now. I’m STOKED to have a version of the Introduction appearing in the new American Poetry Review, where lots of people will see it. I just finished revising the whole ms according […]

  • Currents and circuits

    I’ve been revving high without going anywhere for a while, having entered the work-around-the-clock part of the term, so I’m going flat-out all day and it’s hard to calm down at night, much less write poems or do other creative work that makes me feel peaceful. Thinking about how to manage my energy better made […]

  • Dream, river, poetic convergences

    My dream-life has been off-the-scale intense, populated by strangers demanding I change my life. The tarot spreads of my daily meditations keep saying so, too–that I’m feeling a call and soon to walk away from something but resisting change so far. I must have carried that energy to Harpers Ferry this weekend, when my spouse […]

  • Rereading Sedgwick, or, Oh Yeah, I Like Teaching

    The first paragraph from this famous essay by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick just stopped me cold: “Sometime back in the middle of the first decade of the AIDS epidemic, I was picking the brains of a friend of mine, the activist scholar Cindy Patton, about the probable natural history of HIV. This was at a time […]

  • Pandemic books, like pandemics, keep coming

    September 2021 in the U.S.: vaccines are widely available for those over 12, yet people are still suffering and dying from Covid-19 at a higher rate than last September, newspaper articles keep telling me. This is a comparatively trivial point, but for related reasons, it continues to be a tough time to launch a book. […]

  • “A diary of this kind is neither authentic nor satisfactory”: Millay’s journals

    Champagne for breakfast!–no, I’m only kidding, but that’s what Edna St. Vincent Millay had on her birthday in 1933. I was asked to blurb an edition of her diaries, Rapture and Melancholy: The Diaries of Edna St. Vincent Millay, edited by Daniel Mark Epstein and forthcoming from Yale University Press. I’ve been reading the galleys […]

  • When revisions are even harder

    I’ve been working flat-out on honing the manuscript of an essay collection, Poetry’s Possible Worlds, due from Tinderbox Editions late this year or early next (I suspect the latter at this point). It’s a blend of memoir and criticism with a good dose of cognitive science and narrative theory, plus thirteen 21st century poems reprinted […]