A Fresh Batch of Personal Essays For You...
Welcome to Memoir Monday—a weekly newsletter and a quarterly reading series, brought to you by Narratively, The Rumpus, Catapult, Granta, Guernica, Oldster Magazine, Literary Hub — and now many additional publications.
In addition to the weekly curation, there are now occasional original personal essays under the heading of First Person Singular, for paying subscribers. If you haven’t become a paid subscriber, please consider becoming one.
The second original essay, published in First Person Singular in April, is The Burden of Leaving, by emerging Nigerian writer Ahmad Adedimeji Amobi, in which he makes sense of what his leaving home means to his widowed mother. The third original essay is coming soon!
Essays from partner publications…
Abortion is Already a Whisper-Network Procedure All Over America
by Christa Parravani
“The doctor said they could end my pregnancy by prescribing RU486. I shouldn’t tell a single nurse—or anyone on staff—why I sought care. Not too long before, they’d helped a teenager have a surgical abortion. A nurse had seen it on the girl’s chart. The discovery caused upheaval; staff and nurses filed a formal complaint against the doctor. Dr. X feared for their job and probably for their life. This, though abortion is legal. If I had complications, I’d be better off calling Dr. X on their cell phone. Abortion has turned into a whisper-network procedure all over the country, a thing for people in the know. Dr. X provides abortion quietly and bravely, as many other physicians in the United States do, just not out in the open.”
by Leslie Kendall Dye
"Ten seconds strikes me these days as a profound unit of time, because it is this length of time that my mother’s memory lasts…If you have a conversation with my mother, you have just about ten seconds to impart the narrative thrust. Then the clock is reset, the board is wiped clean, and you must begin again. ”
Joy and Insecurity in Port-au-Prince
by Jason Allen-Paisant
"Western media and writing have defined Haiti as a land of catastrophe. But I am interested in knowing what lies beyond the surface of the known, beyond the narrative of catastrophe. The thing is that I approach this land with love, with respect for what its people have done for us, Black people in the diaspora. And this love produces an openness, an open desire for this landscape."
Lucky Were the Bodies
“Paranoid was the air we breathed. Relatives and friends in other parts of the country kept asking us to leave the state. Grannies wondered why we remained in the north. We should come home.”
The Big, Mangy One
by Bunny McFadden
“It started up again with something innocuous: An extra pair of fuzzy slippers under my side of the bed in case the world ended at midnight.”
For Queer Girls, Simping Is a Love Language
by Emmeline Clein
“Queer people have long been adept at shaking a toxic trope like a strong cocktail, cracking a joke and turning words in on themselves to make our own slang. It turns out that my simp sisters have been here all along: centuries’ worth of queer girls gesticulating wildly at the girls they love, writing letters with too many melancholy metaphors, insisting that their love exists.”
Essays from around the web…
The Witching Hour
by Lorena Hernandez Leonard
“Excitement and danger lurked from every corner of the thick forest we inhabited for those two weeks out of the year. The fear of encountering a mythical thing was overpowered by the excitement of encountering a mythical thing. This fear wasn’t the same as encountering sicarios (narco hitmen) in their motorcycles or the teenager on the second floor of my apartment building who wanted to violate my body. Those fears were all-consuming. They left me petrified and numb. I wanted to run away from the fears in the city. I wanted to run towards the fears in the mountains. This possibility accelerated my heart and left me wanting more.”
by Pragya Agarwal
"Would our stories be different if this comfort around our own language had not been seeded and planted from a young age, and would the stories we write and tell our children be any different? These switches have become part of my identity, and they are how I belong in both worlds. But sometimes I can feel like an alien in both. I worry about how we can give words to our children when we ourselves feel wobbly around the edges of our languages."
I'm Immunosuppressed. 'Pandemic Fatigue' Is a Luxury I Can't Afford.
by Leslie Blumenstein
“I don’t know how to be in the world right now. I don’t know how to be a good friend, partner, or parent. The weight of life is cracking and flattening me into an unrecognizable shape. I am entering my second decade of chronic illness and completing year two of a pandemic. I used to force myself to push through moments of feeling too tired, too overwhelmed, too underprepared — focusing on survival while maintaining the status quo. The status quo is now a constantly moving limbo bar. Right now, the bar hovers on the ground. Back arched, shuffling forward, the extension of my bend has met its limit.”
Ten Rupees a Kilo
by Liesl Schwabe
“Waiting for lunch one afternoon, I dragged a blue wooden bench and an uneven table out back, to eat my thali under the bright, cloudless sky. It was early February, 1999, and I was living in Bodhgaya, India, where the Buddha found enlightenment 2,500 years earlier and where I was about to find myself pregnant and alone at age twenty-three...”
Through June 27th, you can apply for Narratively’s Spring 2022 Memoir Prize.
“Narratively is accepting entries for our Spring 2022 Memoir Prize. We’re on the hunt for revealing and emotional first-person nonfiction narratives from unique and overlooked points of view — the best of which we’ll reward with four-figure cash prizes, publication and heavy promotion, and a lot more.”
Ashley C. Ford, New York Times–bestselling memoirist of Somebody’s Daughter
Nicole Rocklin, Oscar-winning film and TV producer behind the movie Spotlight
Glynn Washington, host, creator and executive producer of the podcast/radio show Snap Judgment
📢 Attention Publications and writers interested in having published essays considered for inclusion in our weekly curation:
By Thursday of each week, please send to email@example.com:
The title of the essay and a link to it.
The name of the author, and the author’s Twitter handle.
A paragraph or a few lines from the piece that will most entice readers.
Because of data limits for many email platforms, going forward we will only include artwork from our partner publications. No need to send art.
*Please be advised, however, that we cannot accept all submissions, nor respond to the overwhelming number of emails received. Also, please note that we don’t accept author submissions from our partner publications.
You can also support Memoir Monday—and indie bookstores!—by browsing this Bookshop.org list of every book that’s been featured at the Memoir Monday reading series. It’s a great place to find some new titles to add to your TBR list!
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