Enjoy playing with this wild card, the lyric essay.

In Judith Kitchen’s essay “Grounding the Lyric Essay” Kitchen also stresses that while the lyrical components are very important when writing a lyric essay, the writer must also be sure to not forget the essay portion of the term. Meaning that the piece of prose must still be grounded in an issue or question which is more abstract than the concrete subject of the writer’s own experience. Kitchen sums this idea up best in the closing passage of her essay

lyric essay presentation for class

D’Agata, John, and Deborah Tall. “The Lyric Essay.” Seneca Review. Web. 5 May 2012.

lyric essay presentation for class

“Looking at the project now, in its finished form, it seems a project of astounding optimism,” says Gemma de Choisy, a graduate student in the Nonfiction Writing Program, who also worked on the book. “We set out to define the lyric essay, and I think we broke it instead—but in the most exhilarating and inspiring ways. It’s a wonderful thing to see the long-standing boundaries of literary conventions teeter, if not actually fall. It gives me hope.”

lyric essay presentation for class

To me, the lyric essay exists in a lucid world but it is being presented in a way that one is uncertain of, in the same way when you have a dream about your house: you know it is your house despite it not looking anything like your house looks, despite having dead relatives and ex-girlfriends and people from across the country all living underneath one roof.

--Deborah Tall, Editor and John D'Agata, Associate Editor for Lyric Essays
While the narrative essay functions as does a piece of prose fiction, the lyric essay works off many of the principles that drive a poem. The lyric essay favors juxtaposition and imagery over a logically linear sequence. Sometimes a lyric essay will state its purpose outright. Sometimes a lyric essay will ask questions in order to get the reader thinking about what's at stake, the message being the unanswerability of a question rather than a statement of fact or truth. And when it's working most like a poem, a lyric essay will present the reader with its material and leave that material to speak for itself. John D'Agata, lyric essay editor for the Seneca Review, has helped to define this weird hybrid form of essay by describing it:In this sense, the lyric essay doesn't necessarily give up its answers easily. Often, it doesn't have the answers that a more traditional essay has. This doesn't mean that the writer doesn't know what it's about—on the contrary, the writer will have made a series of conscious decisions so that the piece will work efficiently to do what it is that the writer wants it to do. The lyric essay takes the subjectivity of the personal essay and the objectivity of the public essay, and conflates them both intoo a literary form athat relies on both art and fact—on imagination and observation, rumination and argumentation, human faith and human perception... The result of this ironic parentage is that lyric essays seek answers, yet they seldom seem to find them. (qtd. in Miller) “The vehicle is the odd association, the interesting juxtaposition — and the ground is the resulting explosion that forces idea out of whole cloth. It generates its meaning by asking its readers to make leaps, to make a kind of narrative sense of the random and chance encounter. It eschews content from method, and then lets method become its content. In this way, the lyric essay is not a prose poem, but the poem of prose”.
--Deborah Tall, Editor and John D'Agata, Associate Editor for Lyric Essays

The Lit Pub • Manipulations of the World: On The Lyric Essay

Take three objects at random from your kitchen or desk drawer. Write a paragraph or a poem about what each one says to you, triggers or suggests. Set the timer for fifteen minutes. At the end, decide what themes connect these memories. Braid them together into a story. Experiment with form, using poetic devices such as repetition, broken lines and white space. Create a memoir byte in the reader’s mind and let them hear your story through this interesting format. Lyric essay can be short or long. Have a friend read what you wrote or post it on your blog.

John D’Agata and Deborah Tall, “New Terrain: The Lyric Essay,” Seneca Review 27, no. 2 (1997): 3.

On the Lyric Essay « Ben Marcus

A lyric essay should connect to readers on an intimate level, regardless of whether the facts are imaginary or real, said essay-ist John D’Agata to a nearly full MacMillan 117 Wednesday night.

Deborah Tall's essay on the lyric essay (link above) is also an excellent example.

The Beautiful, Untrue Things of the Lyric Essay

A traditional academic essay is typically split into paragraphs, but not much more than that. A lyric essay is split into sections, each of which is separated by a space break created by a double return stroke. This space break signals the end of one section and sets the reader up to accept the next few words as the beginning of an autonomous section that may or may not carry on from the previous section. If it helps, you can think of how a novel is broken up into chapters. Or how a chapter might follow one character for a bit before stopping to follow another for a bit—the change of POV might be signified by a space break. The space break is emptiness, vacancy, a cleansing of the palate between courses so that we may begin anew with whatever is coming up next.