Writers interested in discussions about the literary, narrative and personal essay may want to check out the free download of the proceedings from Welcome Table Press's first symposium, held at Fordham University last Spring, "In Praise of the Essay: Practice and Form." There are five meaty pdf files, with topics and tone ranging from the formal to the more frolicsome.
Consider this, the opening to Brian Doyle's paper, "Playfulness: A note" --
"Thesis: The essay is the widest, fattest, most generous, open, glorious, honest, endlessly expandable form of committing prose, not only because it cheerfully steals and hones all the other tools and talents of all other forms of art, and not only because it is admirably and brilliantly closest to not only the speaking voice but the maundering, shambling, shuffling, nutty, wandering, salty, singing voices in our heads, but because it is the most playful of forms, liable to hilarity and free association and startlement, without the filters and mannered disguises and stiff dignity of fiction and poetry and journalism, respectively."
While you're over there, note that there is a call (though scant on details) for submissions to a planned anthology of essays written in the second person. And if you're the advance planning sort, their second essay symposium, with a terrific line-up of speakers, is set for October 2011.
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