What is a lyric essay?

Lyric essay

A Family of Strangers by Deborah Tall



A lyric essay is a cross between an essay and a lyric poem. In “Knit One,”  Suzanne Cody writes in Eastern Iowa Review about a woman’s sorrow and dejection by using the metaphor of knitting:

“Sorrow ravels the sweater from the bottom–a slow, slow process. He appears to think the young woman doesn’t notice. But she does. He may well know this, but likes to pretend.” 

Their relationship is becoming unraveled just like the sweater:

“If you don’t make time for this, eventually the pulling will go faster than the stitching and there will be nothing left between you and me but a pile of tangled wool”

The term lyric essay was invented by the late Deborah Tall, a professor at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Tall wrote A Family in Strangers in which she employed the lyric essay, a form she has been obsessed with for thirty years. 

Resources:
http://outofboundsradioshow.com/exc_audio_post/deborah-tall-poet-writer-and-professor-of-english-at-hobart-william-smith-colleges-geneva-ny/