I’ve just published a narrative essay at ASSAY: A JOURNAL OF NONFICTION STUDIES, sort of scholarly, mostly personal: “Shuffling the Cards: I Think Back Through Judith Ortiz Cofer.” The essay combines three important aspects of my identity that are usually separate, on the page that is: the teacher, the scholar, the personal essayist.
For some reason my hyperlinks feature isn't working today (I will have to consult my tech support, that is, my son Ben, when he gets home from work tonight), but here's the link:
It’s the third essay I’ve published this year about a writer who’s been meaningful to me. My personal essay in Electric Literature was a tribute to Claudia Rankine’s Citizen (both in style—the second person pov and accumulated, anonymous anecdotes—and content), which I had just taught for the first time. In the SmokeLong Quarterly series “Flash/Back,” I looked at Jayne Anne Phillips’ Black Tickets and the influence of her work on my flash. My somewhat more scholarly essay in Assay is a tribute to Judith Ortiz Cofer, who passed away in December 2016. I have taught her creative nonfiction for many years. It has meant a lot to my students, and to me, and also exerted a strong influence on my development as a writer.
Links to the other two essays: electricliterature.com/what-did-you-say-7f5af5d99d76 and www.smokelong.com/flash-back-revisiting-jayne-anne-phillips/
I love the hybridity of Assay’s very vital yet scholarly essays, a whole new breed of scholarly journal (also online, accessible to all, not just to readers with access to scholarly databases). Many are by creative writers who are also academics. So many scholarly journals have become dry and jargon-laden, the prose almost unreadable. It was great to be allowed the latitude to blend the personal and scholarly and pedagogical. Many thanks to the editor Karen Babine and the readers at Assay.
I wrote the essay because the editor of a/b: Auto/Biography Studies invited me to write something for a forum they're doing on Ortiz Cofer. I've published several scholarly articles on Ortiz Cofer, including one in a/b. "Shuffling the Cards" was my first idea for the forum; as the essay became longer and longer I felt I needed to finish it, even though it was too long for a/b. I've written something else for the forum ("Teaching The Latin Deli in the Age of Trump"), which will come out next winter. I loved working with the a/b editor, Ricia Chancy Sancinito, who is on my mind today because she teaches in Puerto Rico, which is bracing for one of the worst hurricanes in history. I hope she's safe.
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