Introducing THE NAKED I: The Exposed Voice of Nonfiction

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

TriQuarterly is proud to present the five essay series The Naked I: The Exposed Voice of Nonfiction. These essays  were  written for a panel assembled by Barrie Jean Borich for the 2014 AWP conference in Seattle, Washington. The inspiration for this panel was Margot Singer’s article “On Convention,” which appears in the book Bending Genre: Essays on Creative Nonfiction, edited by Singer and Nicole Walker.

In “On Convention” Singer writes:

Voice, I propose, is one of the few formal conventions that distinguish creative nonfiction from other kinds of prose. Since the heyday of the New Journalism in the 1960s and ’70s, writers of creative nonfiction have adopted an intimate, reflective, self-reflexive narrative voice, in marked contrast to the “omniscient” third person of the news story or history book. I call this point of view the “Naked I”: “Naked” because the “I” is a pronoun with a concrete referent, the living body of the author, and not just a narrative construct. . . . There is no pretense of objectivity here, no invisible “fourth wall.” Instead the detail-rich, descriptive scenes of narrative realism blend with the limited, one-sided, fallible, fundamentally human perspective of the “Naked I.” There are both hubris and honesty in this technique, which is both contemporarily postmodern and the direct legacy of Montaigne.

Five nonfiction writers—Judith Kitchen, Paul Lisicky, Barrie Jean Borich, Dinah Lenney, and Ira Sukrungruang—took this idea of the naked first person and ruminated, ran, even streaked into five autobiographical craft essays that focus on everything from the sound of authorial presence on the page to images of nakedness itself.  The essayists are:

Judith Kitchen, whose latest books are Half in Shade and The Circus Train

Paul Lisicky whose latest books are Unbuilt Projects and The Narrow Door, the latter forthcoming from Graywolf Press in 2015

Barrie Jean Borich, who is the author of Body Geographic and My Lesbian Husband and the editor of a new journal entitled Slag Glass City

Dinah Lenney, who wrote Bigger than Life: A Murder, A Memoir, as well as a new memoir, The Object Parade, which will be published in 2014

Ira Sukrungruang, who is the author of Talk Thai: The Adventures of Buddhist Boy and In Thailand It is Night