Memoir as Bewilderment
Frost would sometimes say at his readings that “poems are about what you don’t mean as well as what you do mean”—this could apply to the contemporary concept of memoir as well. When we first approach the idea of writing a memoir we generally write into what we believe is our individual and unique autobiography, but as we press on we find that our story is connected to everyone’s story, and only then can we access the deeper mysteries of life. In our weeklong workshop we will wrestle with these deeper mysteries, as well as the concept of “bewilderment,” and how we can embody both in our memoirs—either through syntax, our access to the duende, leaps into the unconscious, or simply circling around what is unsaid, unknown, unrealized. We will look for those moments we begin to stutter and stumble when talking about our projects, for that is the threshold beyond which is unknown, beyond which is the white space on the map.
Please come with a willingness to push a little deeper into this shadow world, as well as a working knowledge of the anthology “The Next American Essay” (edited by John D’Agata), and an openness to questioning why you tell the particular stories about your life that you do.
Nick Flynn’s most recent books include: This Is the Night Our House Will Catch Fire (2020), and Stay: threads, collaborations, and conversations (2020), which documents twenty-five years of his collaborations with artists, filmmakers, and composers. He is also the author of five collections of poetry, including I Will Destroy You (2019). His memoir, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City (2004), was made into a film in 2012 starring Robert DeNiro, and has been translated into fifteen languages.