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I Remember: Unlocking Memories to Lay the Foundation of Your Memoir

Memory and fact are two different animals. The meat of literary memoir is the author’s salient memories around the facts of the story he is telling. In this introduction to memoir, Jamie Brickhouse, author of the critically-acclaimed Dangerous When Wet: A Memoir of Booze, Sex, and my Mother (St. Martin’s Press; “Required Reading” in Mary Karr’s The Art of Memoir; Amazon “Best Book of May 2015,” Book Chase “Top 10 Nonfiction of 2015” ) shows writers how to unlock their deepest memories—the buried, nearly forgotten, and painful—to allow those memories to flower on the page. Taking a lead from Joe Brainard’s literary and artistic cult classic, I Remember, students will discover that laying “I remembers” on the page before writing prose, is akin to an artist priming a canvas before painting. The first half of the workshop will explore the art and craft of channeling and writing about memory as Brickhouse discusses examples from classic memoirs (The Liars’ Club by Mary Karr, The Night of the Gun by David Carr, The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion) and a range of how-to books on memoir and writing (The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr, Braving the Fire: A Guide to Writing About Grief and Loss by Jessica Handler, The Situation and the Story: The Art of Personal Narrative by Victoria Gornick) and his own writing experience. He will also explore how to lift the “burden of too much information”—to weed out the memories, passages, and scenes from a life so that only the essential ones germane to the story you’re telling remain. The second half will be participatory, and students will write their own memories through a series of “I remember” exercises and then transform some of those into prose. Participants will discover that the memories which materialize from their stream of conscious—the ones that cannot be ignored—are the ones that must be written about, and are usually the ones that create literary gold. Brickhouse will lead guided discussions around the students’ work in a supportive, encouraging and laid-back atmosphere. Students will receive a reading list, as well as additional writing prompts and exercises.

Facilitators: Jamie Brickhouse
Track: Writing Creative Non-Fiction
Location: TBD
Saturday, June 6, 2020 - 3:20pm to 4:50pm