Memoir as Bewilderment
Frost once said, "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, and an openness to questioning why you tell the particular stories about your life that you do.
The workshop will be generative, in the sense that we will deepen work we have already done, and so please come with 10-20 pages of work in progress, in various states of completion, from polished to rough sketches.
Nick Flynn is the author of nine books, including the memoirs, The Reenactments, The Ticking is the Bomb: A Memoir of Bewilderment, and Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, and the poetry collections My Feelings, The Captain Asks for a Show of Hands, and Some Ether. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, the Paris Review, and National Public Radio’s This American Life. He has received awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, PEN, the Library of Congress, and was a Fellow at The Fine Arts Work Center. He is currently a professor on the creative writing faculty at the University of Houston.