Commemorative trees, chosen names, legal guardianship, and writing unschooled...
Welcome back to Memoir Monday—a weekly newsletter and a quarterly reading series, brought to you by Narratively, The Rumpus, Catapult, Granta, Guernica, and Literary Hub. Each personal essay in this newsletter has been selected by the editors at the above publications as the best of the week, delivered to you all in one place.
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Roots of Memory
by Francesca Johanson (Photographer: Kris Graves)
"Just inside the north entrance of Brooklyn’s Prospect Park is a small grove of trees resembling a kind of experimental Eden. Lightly signposted, the grove is planted with creamy-white magnolias, “Venus” dogwoods, paperbark maples, red buckeyes, witch hazel, and a Himalayan Pine. Among them is a young bur oak, which will probably outlive them all." This story is a part of “Memory Loss,” a series co-published with Urban Omnibus.
What’s in a Name?
by Victoria Princewill (Image © Kellie Hastings)
"As a baby, I have been told I resisted all possible nicknames, and the sound of my own actual name. Nothing elicited a response. My own first word was the pet name of an ancestor. My mother repeated it back to me, and asked if this was what I wished to be called. I am told I responded with a smile. I am 30 years old, but I still smile, involuntarily, when called this name."
The Legality of Love
by Sarah Kersey (Rumpus original art by Lauren Kaelin)
"Very often, a father will leave home. Sometimes, a sister will get into her car and never come back. And, occasionally, a mother might be involuntarily committed. It’s all quiet now when I come home from work. The silence is absence; the peace has a purpose. I grieve. I am learning how to be alone. I never left my family. My family left me."
My Heart Is a Bibliography: On Being a Writer Without a University Degree
by Daniel Allen Cox (Illustration by Sirin Thada for Catapult)
"Given that I had both an illiterate, book-shaming stepfather and a mom wrapped up in an anti-education cult, it’s either a miracle I turned out to be a writer, or it’s a foregone conclusion. I can’t tell which teleology I like better. In one narrative, I buck the odds and intervene in my own fate; in the other, I’m hewn of obstacles, of the very matter in my way."
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