Michelle Tea wins PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay


Congratulations to Michelle Tea, winner of the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay for her collection Against Memoir. This award is granted to a book of essays published in 2018 that exemplifies the essay form. This year’s judges were Garrard Conley, Paul Reyes, and Aisha Sabatini Sloan.

From the judges’ citation: “Tea’s anti-memoir harkens back to the days when queer was truly counterculture. On subjects as varied as marriage and Minor Threat, in a manner quick-witted and unabashedly intelligent, these essays rove, plunge, and spike. Each seems to set out with almost uninhibited bravery as she walks the terrain of memory or explores the mysteries of pop culture, all with sober precision; in other moments, the prose barrels forward in jubilant riffs, rendered with the fast, energetic, and angry strokes of punk. One senses in her work not just the art of writing but the art of having fun while doing it. Tea uses her own experience to add a sense of proximity and emotional depth that, taken together, vault her sentences toward unexpected poetry. Something ineffable lives within these pages; any subject in her hands—be it a band, a crush, or getting lost in a faraway city—feels organic and alive. Tea is one of those rare writers whose style is immediately recognizable yet inimitable, whose voice is as singularly irresistible as the punk culture that shaped her.”

To read more about last night’s PEN Awards, click here.

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Against Memoir
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Against Memoir

Michelle Tea
Complaints, Confessions & Criticisms

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Lucia Brown