Joy Castro, “Grip”

Reader: Kate Johnson Joy Castro’s abbreviated yet succinct word choices make “Grip” a compelling read. The essay comes in at 365 words, yet manages to make leaps and bounds in exploring domestic vi…

Source: Joy Castro, “Grip”


Roxane Gay, “There Are Distances between Us”

Reader: Courtney Gibbons The short essay “There Are Distances between Us” interrogates the meaning of distance in its various forms. Most interestingly, it considers whether representations of phys…

Source: Roxane Gay, “There Are Distances between Us”


Barrie Jean Borich

The Truth about Writing “The Truth” I am a poet sort of prose writer, by which I mean I don’t write to argue or to narrate so much as to listen, illuminate, and wander. I rarely know, …

Source: Barrie Jean Borich


Cheryl Strayed, “Tiny Beautiful Things”

Reader: Marcia Aldrich Before she published her best-selling memoir Wild,  Cheryl Strayed was an advice columnist. She wrote Dear Sugar for The Rumpus, a series gathered into the book Tiny Beautifu…

Source: Cheryl Strayed, “Tiny Beautiful Things”


Torrey Peters

On “Transgender Day of Remembrance: A Found Essay” Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance 2016, two years after I wrote the Facebook post that eventually became “TDOR: A Found Es…

Source: Torrey Peters


Sonja Livingston

On “Light, from Faraway Places” “Light, from Faraway Places” is just over a thousand words. I could easily write several times that length trying to unpack it and would prob…

Source: Sonja Livingston


Introducing WAVEFORM

“[Waveform] rides the ‘new wave’ in nonfiction essay writing with bravura, intelligence, and sensitivity.”—Kirkus Reviews


The idea for Waveform began some years ago when I became the editor of Fourth Genre: Explorations in Nonfiction. Submissions to that journal came from an abundant number of women writers, and I was consistently impressed by the quality of this writing.

It was clear that something needed to be done to shine a light on the wealth of essays by women writers, and in the fall of 2015, through conversations with the writer and teacher Jill Talbot, the idea for a collection by contemporary women essayists was born. From the start, I wanted an anthology that emphasized their innovations, rather than a collection organized by theme.

There are many nonfiction anthologies that highlight the range of the contemporary essay but do not focus on women. They attest to the enthusiasm for creative nonfiction and the demand for more diverse materials in the classroom. What has been missing is an anthology focusing on contemporary essays by women. What has been missing is Waveform.

Waveform grows out of the recognition that in our moment extraordinary writing is being done by women. I hope that it will have an impact upon the way we think about the contemporary essay. I am especially hopeful that it will be an attractive choice for use in the classroom.

My intent in the Waveform site is to give a little help to teachers and students who may be using Waveform. The site contains reviews and interviews, information about ordering the book, news of events, and brief reflections by the contributors on the composition of their essay. These comments are excellent sources for discussion. Also there are readers’ responses, informal engagements with the essays that report on the experience of reading and provide discussion questions.

The site will evolve as other materials appear. I am excited about discovering the ways it can serve the reading community that grows around Waveform.


“It’s all here, just as it should be: birth, death, sex, longing, regret, anger, love.”—Booklist