‘Bluets’ by Maggie Nelson

I was first introduced to Nelson in 2016. I loved the style of Bluets but I also found it a little dissatisfactory. It felt that the style wasn’t allowing Nelson to sit in the areas she was opening up – things whizzed by so quickly, I wanted time to pause. But I loved the beat of Bluets and the brevity. I found that she’d embedded her style by the time The Argonauts came out and that left me (and a lot of my friends) breathless. She’s an amazing stylist with the ability to tell an emotional story. It’s the mix of the inter-personal and the intellect that she fuses so well in The Argonauts. But re-visting Bluets I see it has a lot of poise and I’m glad I had an introduction to this writer. I also went to see Nelson speak this summer at The South Bank and even though the interview itself was disappointing, it was still great to see her. She made me love the lyric essay. Nelson’s hybridisation of other mediums and forms and her eroticism is deft and supple. The reference in Bluets to the infamous Chelsea Hotel – who wouldn’t want this experience there. “A warm afternoon in the early spring, New York City. We went to the Chelsea Hotel to fuck. Afterward, from the window of our room, I watched a blue tarp on a roof across the way flap in the wind. You slept, so it was my secret.”

First published in October, 2009 by Wave Books