ByLaura Passin

Laura Passin is a writer, professor, and feminist at large. She holds a PhD from Northwestern and an MFA from the University of Oregon. Her writing has recently appeared in Prairie Schooner, Bellevue Literary Review, Adrienne: A Poetry Journal of Queer Women, The Archipelago, and Best New Poets 2013. She also writes a quasi-regular newsletter about feminism, poetry, and pop culture called Postcards from a One-Woman Army. Laura lives in Portland with too many cats.

  1. Brooks was a remarkable poet in countless ways, but this ability to create a world on the page is perhaps the most singular. If she wrote fiction, we’d say she was brilliant at world-building--but the world she builds is the real one, the part that didn’t used to make it into the pages of literary magazines. Not just Chicago: Bronzeville.

  2. Anne Carson is a poet of perversities. By that I don’t mean that she writes graphically about sex (though she does) or that she makes art that is unseemly and difficult (though she does that too). What I really mean is that she works on the edges of what’s acceptable, in every book and genre in which she participates.

  3. Laura Passin's previous work for The Toast, which is lovely and always makes Nicole cry when she edits it, can be found here. I don’t exactly remember when I first encountered the writing of the great neurologist Oliver Sacks--I think I was in my teens, and somehow I heard about The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, which remains the most charmingly titled science book not…

  4. Laura Passin's previous work for The Toast can be found here. Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950), among her many other accomplishments, wrote some of the great kiss-off poems of modern literature. As a woman who unabashedly loved sex, with men and women, and who was keenly aware of the difference between the societal expectations for women and her own daring persona, she had an uncanny ability to turn what seems to be self-deprecation into…

  5. Laura Passin's previous work for The Toast can be found here.

    There is a difference between normal memory and traumatic memory. Trauma sears images and sensations into your brain: they are as vivid a year later as 10 minutes later, involuntary so. But normal memory is reconstructed each time you access it: soon it is not the memory you recall, but the story of the memory, and then the story of the

  6. Laura Passin's past work for The Toast has included The Day I Should Have Believed in God, and a celebration of the poet Muriel Rukeyser.

    One day, Sir David Attenborough will die. You might know Sir David, or at least you might know his voice: he's the posh British man in your head who ruefully but matter-of-factly narrates the world around you, equally impressed by majestic blue whales and by the humble…

  7. My mom had been dying for so long, I couldn't tell what dying meant anymore. Everything the nurse had told us to watch out for had already happened, sometimes more than once: the purpling of the feet, which showed that her heart was not pumping effectively enough to get her blood to her toes; the inability to swallow, which meant either that her muscles had finally stopped responding to her brain (thanks to end-stage brain…

  8. What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open. Muriel Rukeyser wrote that in 1968, even though she'd been splitting the world open for decades already. She'd gone from literary wunderkind to lefty pariah to feminist heroine precisely because of her commitment to telling the truth--about one woman's life, yes, but also about many, many women's lives, about the lives that weren't yet celebrated in poetry.