Favorite Fiction, Essays, and Poetry of 2017

Throughout the year, I had the best intentions to actually generate some material here on my blog. As a penance for missed time, I thought I’d close out the year by pointing to some favorite reads from 2017. There are two rules here: instead of the traditional “best of” lists that float around, everything on this list is by a person I’ve at least met in real life, and everything was published in 2017. In some cases, these authors are my friends or colleagues. In some instances, they were my teachers or mentors. In other cases, the authors are folks I met briefly—either at conferences, readings, events, what have you. But there was a real-life interaction, no matter what.

Why this kind of faves list? Because even with the super-charged turbines of the social media self-promotion machine, the hype around deserving, compelling, and striking short-form works like poetry, essays, and short fiction tends to run out of fuel pretty quickly. Promotion is hard. Self-promotion is harder. Preserving these intense and gorgeous works of art, harder yet. Still, each of these pieces has lodged itself in my mind, and I hope that, just maybe, there’s a place in your memory for some of these pieces.

So here we go. Listed in no particular order, because this isn’t about rankings. It’s about sharing.

Short Fiction
“Pulling Out,” by K.C. Mead-Brewer, in Split Lip.
“A Slim Blade of Air,” by Alice Elliott Dark, in Craft Literary.
“River House,” by Amanda Leduc, in The New Quarterly. (Note: subscription required.)

Nonfiction
“In Praise of Not Not Reading,” by Sheila Liming, in The Point.
“On the Backs of Whales,” by Haylie Swenson, in Sea Monsters: Things from the Sea, vol. 2. (Note—the punctum books website was being finicky when I put together this list, but a donation to punctum will get you access to a downloadable pdf).
“How to Write Iranian-America, or the Last Essay,” by Porochista Khakpour, in Catapult.
“Do I Have to Choose Between a Good Life and Good Teeth?,” by Jonathan Corcoran
, in Buzzfeed Reader.

Poetry
“3 Poems,” by Mary Biddinger, in Grimoire.
Some Say the Lark, by Jennifer Chang (Alice James Books)
And…of course, there are also the marvelous poems by B.K. Fischer and Dora Malech, which appeared in Modern Language Studies this year!

These are just some favorites. I hope you’ll check them out. Happy reading, and happy new year!

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