We asked essayist, storyteller and all-round literary woman-about-town Megan Stielstra to tell us about her favourite writing from 2013. This is what she chose:
My Husband’s New Son by Lisa Schlesinger - “If your friends, a lesbian couple, ask your husband to donate sperm so they can have a child, would you agree?”
The ‘Tough Teen’ is Quietly Writing Stories by Matt de la Pena - “He had all these feelings he didn’t know what to do with. So he wrote them into stories.”
Writers Respond to Typhoon Haiyan, an excellent series in the wake of the recent storm in the Phillipines - “But writing, that wormhole from one person’s world to another’s, heeds its highest calling when it works to ignite empathy for what lies beyond our own experience.”
Goodbye to All This by Lauren Quinn - “There’s a difference between writing and Being a Writer.”
You Are the Second Person by Kiese Laymon - “You wondered out loud what writing “multiculturally” actually meant and what kind of black man would write the word “bro” in an email”
I’ll Not Yield At This Time by Callie Collins - On our personal connections to political and cultural events.
Radio Silence by Jill Talbot - Challenges our perceptions about single mothers.
And for live storytelling excellence… I’m lucky enough to be involved in the performance community in Chicago, and many of the essays that most inspired me this year weren’t written for the page. These kicked my ass in the best possible way:
Khanisha Foster at 2nd Story on being an actor of color
Samantha Irby at Write Club on what it means to be free
Suzy Krueckeberg at Guts & Glory on the humanity in her rapist
JC Aevolitis at The Paper Machete on the Sandy Hook shooting
Megan Stielstra’s personal essay collection, Once I Was Cool, is forthcoming May 2014, and her excellent essay Channel B was recently included in The Best American Essays 2013. She is the Literary Director of 2nd Story and teaches writing and performance at Columbia College and Northwestern University.