University of Iowa

Memoir: Pieces for the Whole

Weeklong June 23 to June 28 2019

This workshop is based on the premise that the whole story is made up of parts, that writing a memoir starts with a compilation of many pieces—episodes or anecdotes or vignettes or moments held in memory. Designed for those who are in the process of connecting these moments, this workshop will look at ways to “fashion a text” as Annie Dillard says, from “fragmentary patches of color and feeling,” especially for those trying to write about family with its many competing voices. We will look at form inherent in our material, the narrative potential in family artifacts, as well as explore vividness in language and detail. We will spend some time looking at short nonfiction examples to discover the possibility of form and narrative structure. But the majority of the workshop will be given to the reading of your work by an informed and sympathetic audience so that you might take from our workshop new strategies to develop your memoirs. Please bring two short pieces of work in progress, a variety of questions, and a curiosity about how all this is done.


In this workshop we will provide feedback on writing you bring from home; provide feedback on writing you produce in our week.