Memoir: Articulating Your Truth
The genre of memoir extends to poetry is a simple and elegant manner. Though more commonly the genre is assigned to longer creative non-fiction pieces, poetry and prose-poetry, as well as hybrids of poetry and creative non-fiction make the genre come alive in new and exciting ways. The relationship between autobiography, poetry, and prose is what we will be examining in this workshop.
Some basic definitions:
Memoir: Memoir is essentially an extension of non-fiction writing that tends to be more creative and autobiographical (or biographical, depending on the author and the subject). Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi is a fanstastic example of memoir meshed with graphic novel. Another example of memoir is I Love Yous are for White People by Lac Su.
Creative Non-Fiction: A genre that uses the mechanics of creative writing (ie figures of speech, form, etc) to breathe life and story into a factual narrative. It can be employed in books, journalism, poetry etc. An example of this genre is Marcello Di Cintio’s book Walls.
Prose-Poetry: Prose-poetry is a hybrid of poetry and prose; it does not fall neatly into either category, as it is poetry written in prose form rather than verse, but using the heightened imagery and emotion that poetry employs. Gertrude Stein’s book, Tender Buttons: Objects, Food, Rooms (1914) is an example of prose poetry.
Hybrid Poetry: Hybrid poetry is something that will be examined at length in this group. Therefore, it is essential to gain a basic understanding of the genre early on. Hybrid poetry is post-modern and experimental, there is little research done on it. It is the combining of different types of literature and art into one concise whole. For example, a hybrid poem may utilize a ghazal, a dramatic monologue, a scientific text, an erasure poem, a photograph, and a sound recording. Many hybrid poets utilize appropriated text. Sandy Pool’s Undark is a phenomenal example of hybrid poetry.
Erasure Poetry: Taking an appropriated text and blacking out all non-essential words to form a coherent piece of writing usually fitting a predetermined theme. Erasure poetry is becoming more and more popular. There is a fantastic blog dedicated to the art form (yes, it can be considered an art form in addition to a poetic form) at http://www.erasurepoetry.wordpress.com. Frank Montesonti’s book, Hope Tree is a hands-on example of erasure poetry.
Appropriated Text: Any text from which a new text is developed. For example, the book Humument (2004) by British writer and artist Tom Phillips is an appropriation of a A Human Document by WH Mallock (1892). (Available online at http://www.humument.com and in the Apple App store)
Found Poetry: Found poetry is the poetic equivalent of a collage: it utilizes appropriated text to create a new text, much like erasure poetry, which is a sub-genre of found poetry. The found text can come from anywhere; pieces of paper found on the street, shopping list, diaries, books, newspapers, transcripts etc. In Charles Reznikoff’s book Testimony, he created poetry from law reports.