TheGift of Memoir

The Sixth Sense

The Sixth Sense

  When I talk about the six senses in memoir writing, occasionally someone asks me, don’t you mean five? The Famous Five they mean are sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. A writer makes a story come alive when generous use of the Famous Five is splashed fragrantly onto an otherwise sense-less page. The reader […]

Fifteen Great Memoirs to Read

  Empathy relies on a willingness to step into the shoes of another person and leave our own world behind. We do this when we read memoir. When we understand what moves another, we are taking a giant step towards felling barricades. Barricades of racism, poverty, mental illness, zenophobia and all the other phobias. Indeed, […]

Death as a Doorway into Memoir

Death as a Doorway into Memoir

For Judy Fong Bates, the death of her father by his own hands when she was twenty-two, is a painful shame that hangs over the days of her adult life. The prologue of A Year of Finding Memory opens with this startling, but somehow serene, statement. “Not long after my father hanged himself in the summer […]

I Remember

I Remember

Memory is the theme of Human Chain, a collection of poetry published by one of the world’s greatest poets, Seamus Heaney, in 2011. “What is the relationship between writing poetry and memory?” he was asked by a Toronto Star reporter. “Memory has always been fundamental for me,” Heaney replied. “Remembering what I had forgotten is the […]

How’s the Weather?

  How’s the weather? That’s what we ask. Like, how’s Mom, or how’s the baby. The weather is like a close relative, something or someone we care about. Indeed, sometimes we feel embraced by this ‘relative’. Love affairs happen in sun, rain, hail, the hush of no wind, the roar of a tornado, heat waves, […]

They Left Us Everything: A Memoir by Plum Johnson

They Left Us Everything: A Memoir by Plum Johnson

Plum Johnson plumjohnson.com begins They Left Us Everything with conflict between her mother’s needs and her own fatigue and frustration from being the primary care giver for her mother for years. Johnson goes back to an earlier time, too, to describe the old clapboard house in Oakville, Ontario she grew up in, but it is […]

Close Call on the Pacific Ocean

Close Call on the Pacific Ocean

Below is an incident I wrote  in 1972 after a four month sail from San Diego through the Panama Canal and up to Key West, under sail alone—no engine, in a 42′ trimaran, similar to the one shown. We were a crew of four: the captain and his thirteen-year-old son, and my partner and I. This […]