dear, dear sugar/cheryl

flowers by amy merrick (

Last night one of my favorite people-I’ve-never-met-but-feel-like-I’ve-known-forever came out of the closet…

Sugar, dear Sugar, the beloved giver of advice whose columns on The Rumpus are so ineffably and intensely heartfelt, honest and beautiful that thousands of strangers felt the love for this previously anonymous person.

There are few things you read that transcend the words themselves. Her writing does. Indeed, in his introduction to the “unveiling” of Sugar’s real identity, Steve Almond said “I’m not going to ask you to raise your hand if you’ve cried during a Sugar column, for we all have.”

When sitting down to the latest “Dear Sugar” column, you never quite knew what she would say, but you were certain it would be wise and from the heart—it didn’t matter who or what she was addressing, somehow she made it relatable, personal.

“Radical Empathy,” was what Steve Almond called it. Revolutionary. He also likened her to Jesus Christ, to the Sermon on the Mount, which no doubt would shock some, but anyone who has read her work knows to what he refers… her humble humanity, her tenderness, the honesty of her responses and her fearlessness in exposing her own flaws while offering them.

It is lovely to see the praise for her literally pouring from the sides of this vast blogosphere.

Yes indeed, Sugar is none other than Cheryl Strayed, whose book “Wild” is coming out soon. Many of her other writings (including “The Love of my Life” which I found particularly moving and a great example of the gifted way she has of taking us along with her on a journey which, however painful and difficult, we would never want to miss. ) can be found on her website.

Stephen Elliott recently said, when discussing Sugar’s Magic and its power—

But being honest is not about being an “exposure junky” or telling all your friend’s secrets, or even your own. You already know your secrets, at least the ones near the surface. To write well, if we’re talking about personal essays, you have to re-imagine honesty, find out what you’re not telling yourself.

He also said…

That’s why we think of writers as brave, though they’re not. Not really. Not if I’m an example anyway. The paths I’ve taken pushed first by cowardice could map much of my personal geography.

Being humble, perhaps, but I disagree. Very courageous both of them in their writing. That’s why I read them both every chance I get.


4 thoughts on “dear, dear sugar/cheryl

  1. Love this…and finally getting the chance to unveil her brilliance with a face and name. It’s a little like opening the curtain on the Wizard of Oz, only this time the person is much grander than one could imagine.

  2. I love Sugar too… Her column is a pleasure I look forward to (like a favourite tv show). I also love her story because she started the column selflessly and anonymously, and it’s turned her into a superstar of sorts. (By the say, Tracey, you’re now on my blogroll).

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