EP40circleOpenings: Into Our Vertical Cosmos
Sasha Steensen

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There are secrets inside sleep. Each night we meet them, but at daybreak they revert to secrets once again. The insomniac knows she is missing something other than sleep, but she can’t know what, exactly. I wrote this essay during a recent bout of insomnia that lasted a little over six months. I knew I couldn’t write myself to sleep, but I also knew that I would not learn to sleep again without looking sleeplessness in the eye. Its eye is underground.
“While I had begun this essay in sisterhood with the agoraphobic, I eventually began to feel the deep-down closing in on me. Somehow, I managed to feel both claustrophobic and exposed at once. I could not write myself out of that hole. The flashing cursor became an entrance and an exit, obscured by every word I typed.
If this neat little equation (word above, meaning hiding below) is all there is to language, why do we keep talking? It isn’t simply because we believe meaning might someday, after all these centuries, be released from the depths and join its attendant word on the surface of the earth. It is because words aren’t completely successful at hiding what they know. They are too close to emotion.”
SASHA STEENSEN is the author of four books of poetry, most recently House of Deer, and Gatherest, forthcoming from Ahsahta Press. She lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, where she tends chickens, goats, bees and children. Steensen serves as a poetry editor for Colorado Review and teaches creative writing and literature at Colorado State University.


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Essay Press is pleased to announce the two winners of the 2016 Essay Press Open Book Contest judged by Carla Harryman: Litany for the Long Moment by Mary-Kim Arnold and Of Sphere by Karla Kelsey, which will be published in Fall 2017.