Maggie Neslon’s Bluets
This week, we are reading Bluets, a long-form lyrical essay by 2016 MacArthur Fellow Maggie Nelson. Composed in numbered fragments, Nelson’s cross-genre consideration of love, introspection, and intimate struggle is sparked and threaded by the color blue. Nelson discusses her relationship to the form in an interview with continent.
“[Bluets] seems to me hyper-aware of the fragment as fetish, as catastrophe, as leftover, as sample or citation, as memory, and so on. Many of the anecdotes in the book (such as about the decay of blue objects I’ve collected, or my memory of a particularly acute shade of blue, or the recountings of dreams) perform these concepts quite directly.”
And they do. Through histories both global, personal, and surreal, Nelson demonstrates the multifaceted nature of fragmented prose. Bluets is poetry, as it is a criticism, as it is a collection of little meditations on “the robustness of being a female human” that coordinate a complete work, which is nothing short of stunning.