1 min read

Have the Confidence to Linger

I'm listening to Hanif Abdurraqib's A Little Devil in America on audio book. About 15-minutes in, I realized that wasn't going to be enough and I'm def gonna need to buy a physical copy so I can pore over the writing.

There are many reasons Abdurraqib deserves all the acclaim he receives, but one of the major reasons, and I think this may be true of most poets-turned-essayists, is that he has the confidence in his writing to linger. How he describes the weather, a tree, an emotion, he luxuriates in his observations. He is confident that you, his reader, will find what he finds interesting.

The earliest drafts of my essays are rushed. Not necessarily in the writing, but in the feeling. Sometimes, I am writing about trauma and it is enough to even get it on the page. It's not work I want to be doing any longer than necessary. It requires revision to finesse it, to make it art, to make it something worthy of the readers attention and time.

Sometimes, I think we rush through what we have to say because we don't have the confidence that Abdurraqib has that the reader wants to be right there in that moment with us. My work also grows more confident with each revision and I see myself slowing scenes and analysis down. Increasing details, not being afraid to put a little essaying into my essay, to wander around and let my thoughts sprawl out.

When I see this same tendency in a student, I challenge then to return to a paragraph in their writing and turn that one paragraph into three and see what happens. If you give this exercise a try, let me know how it goes for you :)

And if you haven't read any Abdurraqib, this is a good place to start.

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