A Short Essay
I am in an extremely privileged position going to UVIC getting my masters. It is a lot of work especially since I'm still working full time in theatre and I've got a show Skyborn in pre-production. But I know how fortunate I am to be FT in both fields and I want to make what I'm learning, available to people outside the academy because that knowledge sharing is an intrinsic value of being a Salish womxn.
So I'm going to try and capture some of my assignments, which will include some creative writing, anecdotes about me diving into the lessons and my experiences of writing outside my main discipline of "playwriting." One of my proffs called our assignments a writing cross training and as a sports enthusiast - I like that sentiment.
I will add that I've been challenging the allotment of being put into "genre", all my professors have been supportive of this refusal. I think genre and the categorization of an artist or community member is a state tactic to make us more controllable and I'm here to refuse state control.
I was talking to a friend the other day and they were asking how school was going and I said I'm finding it very useful to my practice. Kevin Kerr and I spoke before I entered the academy and agreed that we want my experience in school to be in service to support my professional work not add additional writing but supportive, sort of auxiliary compliments to my storytelling. Kerr is very aware that I have commissions and responsibilities to the community and my family and I've been able to use school assignments to focus on my research for Break Horizons which is exciting.
I've been looking at these genre's and locating them in the scope of playwrighting, so lets slide right into to todays lesson: the short essay.
A short essay is between 250-500 words and can be written like a longer essay with a thesis, intro, conclusion etc and then condensed down. Some short essays come very close to short fiction but in the essay format there is reflection, point of view, commentary on the actions happening in the piece. What I found is the main difference is that in lieu of supporting evidence, there is introspection, which I really like.
We read a bunch of examples in prep to write our own some being the late Richard Wagamese's, The Language of Fisherman and On The Wings of Eagles.
I like the short essay, it reminds me a bit of blogs and or social media rants, which I'm well versed it. We also read One O'Clock In The Morning by Charles Baudelaire and there was an urgency about it that I liked. It reminded me of someone at the end of the night who was going off before they hopped in a cab - I like short essays that embody that urgent aliveness.
When I approached my own short essay I was very conscious of the word count - you can get to 500 words reeeeeeal quick, which got me thinking about the English language and counting words and I journeyed down this sort of thought investigation for a while, which is how I landed on this.
I'm going to read my short essay on my podcast and go into some more reflection, so subscribe and tune in for Episode 4 of The Indigenous Cultural Evolutionist, coming out tmw, Tuesday October 1.
Lots of Indigenous love slaxts!
P.s Some events happening this week I recommend, The Cultch's Transform Festival opens this Wed with two opening nights, I will be there on Thursday and Brendy and I are hitting up the Virago Nation night Sat oct 5th! Also my friend and storyteller extraordinaire Jiv Parasram is opening his show, Take d Milk, Nah? and it's selling out fast so get your tickets asap. I also saw The Shipment at the Firehall last Friday and fucking loved it so make sure you hit that up. I'm also checking out Lisa Jackson's Transmissions at SFU this Friday, I've heard nothing but awesome things about the whole experience.
It's art season and there are so many awesome events coming up! Use the comment section to share what you're up to and excited about!
p.p.s If you have some examples and favourite short essays that you've come across please send me a message and or post in the comment section of this blog.