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I’m teaching a six-week “Memoir of Discovery” class at The Loft in Minneapolis from 6-8 p.m. Tuesdays, April 12-May 17.

I was inspired by Debra Monroe’s essay in Kirkus, “The Memoir of Discovery (Not Recovery).” Recovery memoirs, memoirs that focus on some type of trauma, often get the most attention because they are dramatic, shocking, and full of conflict. Lost in that fold is the quiet, contemplative memoir, the one that lyrically and carefully explores the world around us, the one that can elevate the ordinary into the extraordinary. The beautiful memoir I’m reading right now, Paul Lisicky’s “The Narrow Door,” fits into this category. It’s a meditative exploration of friendship, love, and loss.

If you want to learn more about writing a discovery memoir, then I’d love to have you in my class! It meets in-person at The Loft so it is limited to people who can easily get to downtown Minneapolis each week. But if the class is successful, I would explore options to offer it online, so stay tuned!

Here’s more information on registration.

And here’s the catalog description:

The memoir genre encompasses a wide range of styles and stories. But memoirs that highlight trauma such as family conflict, addiction, sexual assault, or divorce receive a disproportionate amount of attention from big publishers and audiences. As a result, the classic “discovery” memoir has faded from mainstream view.

This class encourages writers to create these quiet, yet powerful, stories. Discovery memoirs often revolve around a place or people and feature lyrical writing and reflection. The beauty of these memoirs lies in observation and the power of words, not in the traumatic drama of a life. Examples include Alfred Kazin’s A Walker in the City, Kent Meyers’ The Witness of Combines, and any memoir by Patricia Hampl.

This class is for anyone who is thinking of writing or who has started to write a memoir that focuses on discovery over trauma. Students will spend class time reading examples, analyzing what makes this type of writing successful, and applying those principles to their own writing. One class will be devoted to workshopping classmates’ work.

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