top of page

Keep Up with the Essay One Paragraph at a Time

A New Feature (Almost) Every Friday

Want to subscribe for free?

Click here.

Main feature

from “On Trespassing”

in Split Rock Review

by Elizabeth Carls

 

“I’m interested in boundaries both real and false.” —Elizabeth Carls

 

Elizabeth Carls is a poet and essayist writing across genres from her home in St. Paul, Minnesota. Her work has most recently appeared or is forthcoming in The Split Rock Review, River Teeth, Great River Review, and Under the Sun Literary Magazine, and she currently serves as the Assistant Editor of Creative Nonfiction for Water~Stone Review.

 

She is fascinated by boundaries: “the ways in which we as human beings attempt to compartmentalize and contain, the ways we divide our landscapes into states and nations, the ways we assign genres to the things we read and write.” In a haibun published in the Spring 2024 issue of Great River Review, Carls explores the French expression entre chien et loup which is “the time of day when it would be difficult to distinguish between a dog and a wolf, friend or foe, what is safe to approach and what should instill fear.”

 

The Paragraph of the Week is from her essay “On Trespassing” and the commentary is from her discussion of that essay called “‘On Trespassing’: A Walking Meditation on Borders Real and Imagined,” both found in Split Rock Review and available in full online here and here.

The Paragraph of the Week

 

When we’ve left the woods, walking once again under the full expanse of sky, in the open rolling fields of the Olsen Farm, the dog finds what’s left of a dead porcupine. Mostly what remains of the decomposing body are stiff hairs and delicate bones, which she thoroughly investigates but is wise enough not to roll in. Eventually, weather and an unseen army of micro-organisms will reclaim even the quills leaving no trace of the porcupine, no evidence of what was likely a meal for the coyotes who run these hills, the coyotes who have always run wild through these woods and hills.

 

—Elizabeth Carls

Commentary

 

I’m interested in boundaries both real and false—the ways in which we as human beings attempt to compartmentalize and contain, the ways we divide our landscapes into states and nations, the ways we assign genres to the things we read and write. This is a theme I explore frequently in my writing in general and in the essay, “On Trespassing” specifically. Metaphorically, borders real and imagined show up in this essay in several ways—my own act of trespassing, the coyotes and beavers who cross property lines, even the micro-organisms decomposing the porcupine defy containment. It is an expansive essay, as was the walk that inspired it. As such the essay also contemplates, as I frequently do, the ill-defined border between ourselves and our environment.

 

—Elizabeth Carls

~   ~   ~

Subscribe

Subscribe to The Humble Essayist

The best way to keep up with us is to add your name to our growing list of subscribers, and we will send free, brief, weekly reminders of our features with a link to the page directly to your email. Please click on the blue button to subscribe.

Click the blue button for weekly reminders.

~   ~   ~

Announcements

News from Great River Review

Three lyric essays by Steven Harvey appear in the newest edition of Great River Review. The first piece, called “Oakleaf Hydrangea” begins this way:

 

"The oakleaf hydrangea winking at me over the top of my book carves a saucy shape in the mind standing boldly as itself between me and the rest of the world, hands on hips as it were, the woody bush a swirl like the vessel of water it is named for..."

Learn more here.

Listen to the Dan Hill Podcast on The Beloved Republic 

at The New Books Network

Dan Hill interviews author Steven Harvey about politics, family, race, and being The Humble Essayist on his radio program at the New Books Network.

 

Here.

Return to main feature here.

Great River Review.jpg
New Books Network logo.webp
Announcements

News from The Humble Essayist Press

 

Beware poets writing prose? Nah. Check out the new releases from The Humble Essayist Press! Essay collections by two award-winning poets. Learn more here.

Kathy and Syd.png

The Beloved Republic Review

Thanks to Tarn Wilson for her review of The Beloved Republic at the  River Teeth website. She writes: “In his titular essay 'The Beloved Republic,' Harvey makes this heartening promise to those who feel worried and wearied, helpless in the face of 'war and tyranny,' that by devoting ourselves to lives of steady kindness, creativity, and friendship we are joining an invisible, benevolent army.” Read the full review here.

River Teeth Logo.png

Brevity

Thanks to Brevity magazine for publishing the short prose piece “The Hermit Thrush.”

You can read the entire piece at Brevity here.

Hunger Mountain

Thanks to Hunger Mountain for publishing “Aubade,” my exploration of perception in lyric prose. It begins with this epigraph from the artist Paul Cézanne: “The landscape thinks itself in me and I am its consciousness.” 

 

You can read the entire brief piece here.

Zone 3 Interview on The Beloved Republic

 

Thanks to Amy Wright and the folks at Zone 3 for granting me an interview about my new book. Amy reads with discernment, asks great and surprising questions, and listens carefully to the answers. Check out the question she opens with in the sidebar--it goes right to the heart of the matter! See the full interview here.

image.png
Hunger Mountain.png
Wright Question 1.jpg

The Beloved Republic by Steven Harvey

Available at Bookstores and Online

See more at the author's website and check out our video trailers here.

Trailer One

Trailer Two

The Beloved Republic

~   ~   ~

The Beloved Republic

 

I am pleased to announce that my fourth collection of personal essays  won the Wandering Aengus Press nonfiction award and has been nominated for two PushcartsThanks to the Press for this honor.

What is the Beloved Republic? E. M. Forster, who coined the phrase, called it “an aristocracy of the sensitive, the considerate, and the plucky” who “have the power to endure” and “can take a joke.” Pitted against authoritarianism, the Beloved Republic is the peaceful and fragile confederacy of kind, benevolent, and creative people in a world of tyrants, thugs, and loud-mouthed bullies. Taking Forster’s phrase for its title, my book can be read as dispatches from that besieged land.

Available online and at bookstores. Learn  more at the author's website 

wandering aengus.jpg
The Beloved Republic front cover.jpg
FOLLY BEACH cover jpg.jpg

~   ~   ~

Folly Beach 

Folly Beach is a book-length personal essay about easing fears of mortality and loss through creativity. It never loses sight of the inevitable losses that life brings, but doesn't let loss have the last word.  In the face of the grim, Folly Beach holds up the human capacity to create as our sufficient joy.

—THE

goodreads logo.jpg

In a world of loss, creativity is the best revenge.

Please

Follow on Goodreads

and write a review.

You can learn more about the recent work of Steven Harvey at his author's page here.

THE Mission

We at The Humble Essayist are in love with the paragraph, that lowliest of literary techniques.  A sentence stands out as a noble thing: a complete thought.  But what is a paragraph?  And what, in particular, is a good one?  You know it when you read it--that is our article of faith.  So on Friday of each week, beginning on Independence Day 2014, the very day 169 years earlier that Henry Thoreau moved to Walden Pond, we will select a single paragraph from an essay or a reflective memoir and print it here along with a paragraph of commentary.   We will choose paragraphs that are surprising, beautifully written, and, above all, thematic--illuminating the author's comment on life.  Each paragraph of the week is, in short, a concise review of the writer's work.  We hope that this page will introduce you to many exciting authors and their ideas.

 

The Humble Essayist thanks Clipartpal for the public domain artwork of "The Old Man Reading" that is the logo for the site.

bottom of page