Merry Wanderer of the Night + nonfiction

Awesome Essays: Birdwatching in Fresno

The essay editor of Wag's Revue came to talk to my literary magazine publishing class today and I was impressed by how sizable the magazine's nonfiction section was. I've been browsing small lit mags for awhile and it seems like most of them throw nonfiction in as an afterthought. Wag's Revue seems to have a few essays in each issue, and they can all be read online. There is a short essay called Birdwatching in Fresno by Steven Church in issue seven which is very representative of poetical nonfiction writing. I've written several recent posts about misconceptions concerning nonfiction (like my last Sunday Salon, and Birdwatching in Fresno really pushes the definition of "essay."

"The bird doesn't suspect and won't chase what doesn't move, what has only recently roosted, relocated, separated and plugged into the seismic shifts of jobs and geography. And he cannot know how you feel caged by the noise, pressed and petrified like the prairie dogs back home in Kansas who duck back into their holes when a raptor glides over the flats--even though you've done nothing wrong, nothing but act like a prairie dog scratching in the yard."

This passage really struck me because I'm attracted to language that deals with nature but also has a dark edge to it. This piece is very short so it's heavy while you're reading it but once you've finished there is a sense of relief. I liked this essay because it illustrates how essays can be topical while still being literary. If this wasn't labeled as essay I'm not sure most people would give it that label, particularly readers who don't think they like essays. If you were convinced by my post last week and want to try an essay Birdwatching in Fresno might be a quick one to see how essays are different from their common perception.

Even if you're not interested in the essay you should certainly check out Wag's Revue. It's an online only literary magazine and there is actually some quality writing in it, which is surprising to me after perusing several small online literary magazines. If you love blogging and reading but don't have a lot of experience with literary magazines this would be a good place to get started.

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Awesome Essays: Birdwatching in Fresno + nonfiction