Sundress’s Favorite Essays of 2017


We’re already a few weeks into the new year! For word lovers like us, a new year means new prose. As excited as we are at Sundress to see what amazing work will come in 2018, we still find ourselves awed by some of the things we read last year.

The Sundress staff took some time to reflect on those essays that resonated with us in 2017. Below are some of our favorites:


hunger“‘My body is a cage of my own making'” by Roxane Gay. (CW: sexual assault)

The author of Bad Feminist and Hunger discusses how she overate to cope with childhood trauma, and the trials she faces today occupying an overweight body in a fatphobic society.




Body of a Poem: An Essay About Being a Non Male Non Female Person in the Literary World Written in the Form of a Dream” by Moss Angel

Paints a vivid picture of what it can feel like to exist outside the gender binary in a world that constantly [rein]forces one.


“Dragons Are for White Kids with Money: On the Friction of Geekdom and Race” by Daniel Jose Ruiz

Geek/nerd culture along with the canons of science fiction, fantasy, and adjacent genres are overwhelmingly white in representation and in racial coding. A Chicano writer explores some of the challenges that arise for him as a fan of these exciting but problematic parts of our culture.


To Vibrebrate: In Defense of Strangeness” by Johannes Gӧransson

In a letter to the editor, Johannes Göransson critiques Matthew Zapruder’s New York Times article, “Understanding Poetry Is More Straightforward Than You Think” and argues in favor of embracing the enigmatic, esoteric nature of poetry.


Asian Persuasion” by Isabella Dia-Tsi-Tay

A writer discusses her anger at racial ignorance and the oppressiveness of Eurocentric ideals of beauty.


Body of a Poem: The Public Won’t Let Me Be Personal” by Kenyatta JP Garcia

Learning, and now unlearning, the act of quietly suppressing their true identity outside of cisnormative familial and societal demands.


A Lyric Video Essay”  by Vanessa Angelica Villarreal​

Filmed in the writer’s childhood home, this work touches on themes of immigration, assimilation, family, memory, and more.


Reports from the Field: Good Intentions: What Being Disabled at #AWP17 Was Like” by Cade Leebron

A writer recounts her encounters with ableism at last year’s Association of Writers & Writing Programs conference.


her bodyThe Trash Heap Has Spoken” by Carmen Maria Machado 

With references to real-world and pop culture, Machado tackles her relationship to her body, along with media portrayals of women with bodies like hers.



Our Lady of Complicity” by Laurie Penny

A scathing review of Ivanka Trump’s book Women Who Work, which is described, among other ways, as “about as feminist as a swastika-shaped bikini wax.”


Making a Marriage Magically Tidy” by Helen Ellis

A self-aware, self-proclaimed “recovering slob” chronicles her journey from messy spouse to a wife with neater habits.


Commentary: Finding strength in saying ‘Me too’” by Megan Louise Rowe (CW: assault)

Touched inappropriately by her journalism teacher, Rowe retreats from writing following the assault but manages to find her voice again, both on and off the page


Growing up Queer in Appalachia” by U.J. Wood

Coming of age and finding solidarity with other members of the LGBT community. The struggles are universal, but especially fraught in socially conservative areas.


How to Stop Apologizing for My Stutter, and Other Important Lessons” by Rachel Hoge

The essay visits the author’s relationship to her speech impediment, reflecting on memorable events of the past and present.


soraya robertsThe Personal Essay Isn’t Dead. It’s Just No Longer White” by Soraya Roberts

Roberts asserts that people lamenting the death of the personal essay are actually lamenting the death of something more akin to kyriarchy.