'Despite the ascendancy of the lyric essay as a form over the past two decades, the essay, whether lyric or otherwise, is still pegged to the category of nonfiction, an amorphous genre that includes everything from journalism to criticism. Any definition of nonfiction will include some variation of the idea that, foremost, nonfiction considers what is ‘informative’ and ‘factual’. But are such definitions limiting where many essayists are concerned?
'Must an essay, as a subset of nonfiction, entertain ‘thing-ness’ or the empirical world at all? Or is the truth of an essay sometimes speculative without the need to admit things or facts, existing simply as a tidal wave of strange imaginings? A Speculative Essay concerns itself with the figurative over the literal, ambiguity over knowing, meditation over reportage.
'For some essayists, in all manner of subgenres, from nature writers to personal essayists, facts as such matter only in the path they open to speculation. While this kind of formal speculation is often conflated with the lyric essay, the lyric essay does not own speculation. Essays that tilt more towards metaphor than fact exist in a crack between genres that remains unclassifiable.' (Introduction)