“…it preserves a small zone for the playful, the useless, and the unauthorized.”
–Matt Greenfield, writing in The Valve about Ramsey Scott’s “Even the Hardy Boys Need Friends: An Epistolary Essay on Boredom.”
The quote above refers to Wayne Koestenbaum’s practice of assigning his grad students a two-page “lyric essay” each week in lieu of a final paper. This was common practice in my own graduate program at New School University, where I studied under people like David Lehman, Laurie Sheck, David Trinidad, and Susan Wheeler. I remember that one of the “essays” took the form of a collage about Wordsworth poem.
But I fear it was my own common practice through my whole education, even when more traditional essays were warranted. For better or worse, I could never figure out how to obey without also resisting.