The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Ways of Looking at a Woman by Caroline Hagood

This selection, chosen by Guest Curator Erika Eckart, is from Ways of Looking at a Woman by Caroline Hagood, released by Hanging Loose Press in 2019.

It blows my mind that we’re just bundles of science that somehow gained consciousness. When I feel overcome by my post-birth transformation, I imagine my body as a written form and try to guess its genre. I decide it’s an essay—but probably a lyric essay. I want to be able to catalogue it so I can keep it ideologically under control. I think this still involves the Dewey Decimal system, but I’ll have to ask my local librarian.

It’s easy to picture the structure of my essay body as following a linear pattern, so that my head is either the introduction or conclusion. But what of other ways of imagining the body’s structure?

Imagining the lyric essay in particular is a slippery project; just ask its spokesperson, John D’Agata, who has drifted towards and away from this designation himself over the years. He says he savors the provocation of composing between the lands of poetry and essay. Yet, even though the term’s a shifty one, I felt something about my writing, and maybe even myself, could be located at last when I came across this mixture of memoir, poetry, essay, and theory. Or maybe I simply thought, “Yeah, I’m a lyric essay, that’s it.”


Caroline Hagood is an Assistant Professor of Literature, Writing and Publishing and Director of Undergraduate Writing at St. Francis College in Brooklyn. She has published two books of poetry, Lunatic Speaks (FutureCycle, 2012) and Making Maxine’s Baby (Hanging Loose Press, 2015) and one book-length essay, Ways of Looking at a Woman (Hanging Loose Press, 2019). Her novel, Ghosts of America, is forthcoming from Hanging Loose in August 2021. Her writing has appeared in The Kenyon Review, the Huffington Post, the Guardian, Salon, and the Economist. She blogs for the Kenyon Review.

Erika Eckart is the author of the tyranny of heirlooms, a chapbook of interconnected prose poems (Sundress Publications, 2018). Her writing has appeared in Double Room, Agni, Quarter After Eight, Quick Fiction, Nano Fiction, Quiditty, and elsewhere. She is a High School English Teacher in Oak Park, IL where she lives with her husband and two children.


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