Monday, February 7, 2011
I Can’t Keep My Own Secrets: Six-Word Memoirs by Teens Famous + Obscure, edited by Smith Magazine
The six-word memoir phenomenon is rumored to have begun when Ernest Hemingway was asked to write a story in only six words. He wrote, “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” Outstanding six-word memoirs are those that force the reader to imagine the depth of the tale that inspired them. One example submitted to Smith Magazine’s website was, “Cursed with cancer. Blessed with friends,” which you may imagine evokes the image of an elderly person reflecting at the end of a long life, but was in fact written by a nine-year-old girl. Or, “I still make coffee for two,” which conjures an image of someone mourning the loss of a beloved spouse, but was actually written by a man in his twenties after a breakup. In this volume, Smith Magazine has collected 600 six-word memoirs solely by authors between the ages of 13 and 19. Students find some memoirs, like “Always listening, but never really heard,” easy to identify with. While others, like “My mom had my boyfriend deported,” ignite as many possible story lines as there are students in the room. Share these with your students, and more from Six-Word Memoirs on Love & Heartbreak by Writers Famous & Obscure and Not Quite What I was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure, and then ask them to pen their own six-word memoirs. Justin, age 15, a student at Crossroads, wrote, “Shoulda, woulda, but can not handle,” and, “Right now, no freedom, but faith.” What six words would you choose?
Smith Magazine, Ed. I Can’t Keep My Own Secrets: Six-Word Memoirs by Teens Famous + Obscure. New York: HarperTeen, 2009.