To write a memoir in prose, to distill each experience into just the right words, to leave enough white space on the page for a reader to jump in and participate with the language, that is the work of a master. Reader, you already know you are in masterful hands with Jacqueline Woodson. I listened to an interview with Woodson on the Write-Minded podcast with Brooke Warner and Grant Faulkner where she admitted that it was possible to consume Brown Girl Dreaming in one sitting, but that it pained her to hear when readers did that. She really wished we wouldn’t. Indeed, I enjoyed this memoir slowly in bites I could savor. Keeping it on hand for quiet moments when I could sit and think and enjoy the cadence of the verse. It is a book you will want to keep close at hand, a reminder that poignant imagery transports and conveys meaning better than pages and pages and pages. This is a beauty of a book!
The Westerly Memoir Project (WMP) embarks on its second summer July 11, 2017. The project blends top-notch instruction in the art of memoir with the long-term goal of creating an anthology of personal essays, all set in the treasured seaside community of Westerly, RI. Grub Street, a creative writing center in Boston, has completed two such projects. The Boston Memoir Project spanned over a decade and culminated in the publication of 5 anthologies representing various neighborhoods within the city. Then there was the Nantucket Memoir Project, which more closely mirrors the scope of the WMP.
With the pull of the ocean, both summer residents and a vibrant year-round community share a special setting. As such, there are a myriad of view points and diverse experiences that will make up the finished work of essays to be published as the Westerly Memoir Project.
I initiated this project last year with the help of the Westerly Public Library, the Watch Hill Memorial Library and Improvement Society, and Grub Street because I truly love this place. My co-chair, Katie Porter, and I are excited to bring the best instructing Boston’s Grub Street has to offer to our summer home. We are also excited about where this project might lead. The hope is that this project ignites writing well beyond that first personal narrative. Last summer’s sessions felt like the nascent beginnings of Westerly’s own writing community. Let’s keep it going ! Imagine where we can go from here.