Selected Essays



New and forthcoming: “Foreign Intelligence,” a response to Marguerite Duras for Interim, 35:5 print edition; “Does It Yet Have a Name,” for a special feature of Leggendaria on Louise DeSalvo, translated into Italian by Edvige Giunta; and several contributions to new anthologies including Edwin Torres’ edition, The Body in Language (Counterpath Press), and “To Love Me or The Intruder’s Tattoo” for Don’t Look Now: Things We Wish We Hadn’t Seen, co-edited by David Lazar and Kristen Iversen. Meanwhile, thanks to Philip Graham at Ninth Letter, The Dearest Mary Project has launched. Stay tuned!


Post Card from Planet Omicron, February 18, 2022, for Transit Books’ Postscript project//”I am writing from a place of the synchronous and the overlapping, from the lost-to-time and the prescient.”

 “Notes on Notes,” The Paris Review, October 1, 2020

“Before the Essay, the Lecture: Nonfiction’s Lost Performative,” Mary Cappello takes up a question Virginia Woolf Once Asked, Lit Hub, “September 9, 2020

“A Lecture on the Lecture,” on corporeality, TED talks, 60-second lectures, the will to listen, speech vs. writing, lecture nightmares and lecture dreams, new literatures, and the lecture as the essay’s long lost friend, for Ninth Letter, Featured Artist/Writer, November 22, 2017, adapted from a lecture delivered at Ohio University’s Spring Literary Festival, April 2017. >> Read the Essay

“How We Escape It: An Essay,” on escape and escapism, of mazes, puzzles, a surcease of inscape, and the current zeitgeist, for JSTOR Daily, September 6, 2017. >> Read the Essay

“Margaret Wise Brown and the Mystery of Mood,” an excerpt from Life Breaks In: A Mood Almanack (University of Chicago Press, 2016), The Millions, February 15, 2017. >> Read the Essay

“Of Clouds and Moods,” a long form excerpt from Life Breaks In: A Mood Almanack (University of Chicago Press, 2016), Berfrois, September 26, 2016. >> Read the Essay

“Flow,” Bending Genre’s essay project, “Toward a Theory of Creative Nonfiction,” April 29th, 2013. » Read the Essay

“Gong Bath,” from Life Breaks In, The Berlin Journal, Fall 2015: 26-28. » Read the Essay

“Mood Rooms,” from Life Breaks In, Annual Meridel LeSueur Essay for Water~Stone Review, Fall 2015: 127-133. » Read the Essay

“Advent’s Unconscious” for the 2016 Essay Daily Advent Calendar, December 3, 2016 » Read the Essay

“My Secret, Private Errand (An Essay on Love and Theft),” a novella-length essay after Henry James, Salmagundi: Fall 2013-Winter 2014: 135-183, (Notable Essay of the Year, Best American Essays 2014)

Ingestion Column: “Alone on Floor with Pile of Buttons,” Cabinet Magazine, Fall 2011. » Read the Essay

“Getting the News,” The Georgia Review, volume 63, number 2, Summer 2009, 294-315 (GAMMA Award for Best Feature from The Magazine Association of the Southeast; Notable Essay of the Year, Best American Essays 2010). » Read the Essay

“Losing Consciousness to a Lost Art,” Michigan Quarterly Review, Spring 2007, 329-338 (Notable Essay of the Year in Best American Essays, 2008). » Read the Essay

“‘For Anyone Interested in Learning What Makes Us Human,'” Salmagundi, Spring-Summer 2008, 75-96 (Notable Essay of the Year, Best American Essays, 2009). » Read the Essay

“Merit Badge,” Iron Horse Literary Review, Volume 15.3, Creative Nonfiction Issue, 2013: 51-61. » Read the Essay

“Some Notes on my Sense of an Interior,” a feminist response presented on the panel: The Great Indoors: Gender, Writing and Re-envisioning Literary Merit, AWP 2011, Washington, DC » Read the Essay

“Can Creative Writing Be Taught?, An American’s View, Delivered to an Audience of Teachers in Russia,” winner of The Bechtel Prize for Educating the Imagination from the Teachers and Writers Collaborative, NYC, Teachers and Writers Magazine, Special Issue, September-October 2004, vol. 36, no.1: 19-25. » Read the Essay

“Moscow, 9/11,” Raritan, August 2002: 86-100. » Read the Essay