The Essayist Must…

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Despite the horror and hopelessness (see below) that moves through the world, the essayist must have, even if it is well-buried under the most convincing costume of misanthropy, a deep and abiding love of humanity. Essayists set up beacons, send down ladders. They hold the belay rope, the flashlight, and sometimes even the first-aid kit. The best writers listen for humanity’s heartbeat, and write out the beat of it—sometimes in their own blood, and sometimes to a tune hard to follow, but with a listener in mind.

In Passages North, Chelsea Biondolillo writes about the imperatives of the essayist.


Lyz's writing has been published in the New York Times Motherlode, Jezebel, Aeon, Pacific Standard, and others. Her book on midwestern churches is forthcoming from Indiana University Press. She has her MFA from Lesley and skulks about on Twitter @lyzl. Lyz is a member of The Rumpus Advisory Board and a full-time staff writer for the Columbia Journalism Review. More from this author →