Through a balance of meticulous research and lived experience, Joanna Walsh manages to hold the tension between cultural re-evaluation and emotional force in her writing. Works such as Hotel (Bloomsbury, 2015) strike this very balance, using readings of Freud and Heidegger, among others, to sit beside the personal/confessional essay to create “a dialectical exchange which, rather than instructing readers…invites them to draw their own conclusions”.
Walsh’s work has been situated by critics alongside the autofiction of contemporary writers who have developed the possibilities of the personal/ lyric essay, such as Chris Kraus and Maggie Nelson. For example, Vertigo (Dorothy, 2015) – a collection of “icy soliloquies of disenchanted womanhood” – tackles big, personal ideas like partnership, loneliness and femininity but “through the vibrant minutiae of contemporary experience”, as well as retaining her work’s distinctive balance between experience and re-evaluation. As well as identifying her own work with that of feminist authors like Kraus and Nelson, Walsh runs the campaign @read_women, “a rallying cry for equal treatment for women writers” (New York Times) that won her a New Venture Award from Women in Publishing (2014).
Walsh is a contributing editor at 3:AM Magazine, and Catapult.co. She is a current PhD candidate in the University of East Anglia’s Creative Writing department, where she is conducting practice-based CHASE-funded research into the possibilities of digital narrative.