Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Mary Karr: Poetry Meets Memoir

In my search for poetry-as-memoir, I have encountered something I intuitively knew but hadn't quite articulated or had articulated for me:
Most poetry is memoir. 

Highly autobiographical, with lyricism that can get at feeling over fact, poetry and memoir both  prefer senses, experience and feeling. No wonder I like them both so much.

My favorite discovery so far is finding Mary Karr's poetry. I had no idea she wrote poetry. 
And here's the best part - it's really fucking good. From the collection Sinners Welcome:

STILL MEMORY The dream was so deep
the bed came unroped from its moorings,
drifted upstream till it found my old notch  

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Perec's Four Kinds of Memory

I recently found a copy of a collection of short non fiction pieces by Georges Perec, a French author who played close to the OuLiPo* school and loved to toy with the edges between fiction and fact.

One essay in particular caught my attention immediately: The Work of Memory. One of the things Perec did in his writing was elevate the worth of daily, mundane tasks, promoting himself to recall them with as much directness as - if not more than - trauma or large significant events. He speaks in this essay about a socialism of memory, in a sense, a non-hierarchical access to the place where collective experience meets personal expression.

In a follow-up, Notes on What I'm Looking For, he refers to four fields of his interest in his work. I love these descriptions - "in one he grows beetroot, in another Lucerne, in a third, maize." All grown by him, but with different focuses of interest. Here are those four fields, also of great interest to memoir readers and writers: