Perfect for use at any level—beginner to advanced—Brevity‘s 20th anniversary anthology The Best of Brevity features brief memoir, narrative, lyric essays, literary journalism,, hermit crab essays, hybrid essays, and more, from writers such as Brian Doyle, Roxane Gay, Daisy Hernández, Ander Monson, Torrey Peters, Kristen Radtke, Amy Butcher, Diane Seuss, and Lee Martin. Also included is a listing of our most popular Craft essays over the years, and a guide to pairing The Best of Brevity with The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Nonfiction.

Below we offer further ideas for using the anthology in the classroom, thoughts on teaching specific essays found in the Best of Brevity anthology, and a few useful video resources.

Ideas for Teaching the Best of Brevity Anthology

In her pedagogical essay, Teaching Flash Creative Nonfiction in First Year Writing Courses, Zoë Bossiere discusses how she uses the flash anthology in her teaching to combine creative writing and rhetoric & composition theory. She also outlines “Four Exercises in Concision and Revision.”

Sample Syllabus: Combining The Best of Brevity with the Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Nonfiction in a CNF Intro Course, Zoë Bossiere

Learning With The Best of Brevity: Christine Stewart-Nuñez and her students offer a collaborative essay on their experiences using The Best of Brevity in the classroom.

Ideas for Teaching Particular Essays Found in the Best of Brevity

Teaching Jill Christman’s “The Sloth”: In Essay Daily, Brenda Miller examines Christman’s very brief essay. “Because the essay is so short, every image must be precise, every word must further the narrator’s discovery in a focused and measured way. The essay must move like the sloth—slowly, deliberately—opening up space for this grief to manifest in the reader’s own heart.”

Teaching Nicole Walker’s “Fish”: Heidi Czerwiec offers her strategies for teaching Nicole Walker segmented flash piece “Fish,” an essay that “never fails to provoke heated discussions and compelling imitations.”

Teaching Roxane Gay’s “There Are Distances Between Us”: On the Wave-Form blog, Courtney Gibbons examines how Gay’s Best of Brevity essay “considers whether representations of physical distances—such as maps and atlases—are substantive enough to describe emotional distances.”

Teaching Deesha Philyaw’s “Milk for Free”: Emily Dillon looks at an essay filled with associative brilliance, and one that “has relevance beyond the creative writing classroom, particularly for studies of gender, race, class, and/or intersectionality. “

Teaching Laurie Lynn Drummond’s “Alive”: Samuel Autman shares how Drummond’s “scorching little essay” never fails to ignite his students, blending personal history, location and reflection in less than 700 words.

Teaching Brian Doyle’s “Imagining Foxes”: Amie Souza Reilly teaches an essay in which Brian Doyle does not actually see a fox, and she turns it into a lovely prompt.

Teaching Traci Brimhall’s “Post-Mortem”: Amie Souza Reilly suggests strategies for teaching “an essay written in associations, in digressions; a journey through connections to make sense of something nonsensical.”

Teaching Brian Arundel’s “The Things I’ve Lost”: Shuly Xóchitl Cawood examines a list essay that also serves as a valuable writing prompt for her nonfiction classes.

Teaching Anna Vodicka’s “Girl/Thing”: Suzanne Roberts considers a stunningly brief essay that “shows students how much meaning can be made in the space of 230 words.”

Teaching Torrey Peters’ “Transgender Day of Remembrance: A Found Essay”: Emily Dillon explores the intricacies of this powerful, trauma-filled found essay, “a meditation on excess–excessive violence, excessive hate, and excessive death.”

Teaching Christine Byl’s “Bear Fragments”: Suzanne Roberts meanders through a segmented essays that escapes “the circle of ‘I’” and lets the subject take over — in this case, bears, “actual bears (black bears and grizzly bears) and human interactions with them (both gentle and gruesome), bear folktales and legends, and the bear within.” (with a bonus Prompt!)

Best of Brevity Authors Discuss the Origins of Their Essay

Of “Swerve:” The Apology Epistle:  Brenda Miller discusses friendship, detail, intuition and the prompt that led to “Swerve:”

“Write an apology, we say, to someone in your past. An ‘apology epistle.’” 

On the Origin of “Girl Fight”: Joey Franklin shares his thoughts on projecting shame onto the page and writing a traumatic childhood memory using a child’s perspective in “Girl Fight.”

“When we cannot turn away from ourselves, we can, hopefully, turn to the essay, and in some ways project that shame onto the page.”

On “Talk Big” and the Communal Voice Lee Martin talks communal voice, language, and its relationship to violence in “Talk Big.”

“Sometimes, like the night of the shooting I describe, there’s a communal pain that screeches and roars until something explodes.”

On Essaying the Violence Against “Women These Days”Amy Butcher recalls the influence Torrey Peters’ “Transgender Day of Remembrance: A Found Essay” had on her own work and how writing can be cathartic.

“As an essayist, I believe very deeply in the value of complication, and in essays that are provocative in their approach.”

It’s Never Just Me: On “All or Nothing, Self-Portrait at Twenty-Seven”: Jill Talbot reveals her editing process and how her essay developed with help from her students in workshop.  

“I challenged my students to avoid the established themes, the easy-groove patterns, and the go-to predilections we had all come to know of each other’s in the beginning workshop. I even told them I’d do it, too, because I write what I ask my students to write.”

On Writing “Breathless”: Heather Sellers examines the importance of writing from the senses, diagraming movement, and how “Breathless” began as a poem.

“When we cannot turn away from ourselves, we can, hopefully, turn to the essay, and in some ways project that shame onto the page.”


The Best of Brevity‘s Table of Contents

You can access the Table of Contents here. And learn more about the book here at Rose Metal Press.


VIDEO RESOURCES: Best of Brevity Authors Read and Discuss Their “Best” Essays

Brevity Authors Torrey Peters, Kristen Radtke, and Rajpreet Heir at McNally Jackson Bookstore

Brevity editor Dinty W. Moore and author/teacher Alysia Sawchyn discuss the art of flash and the Best of Brevity: