Eleven Personal Essays You Won't Want to Miss This Week...
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 later this week!
Essays from partner publications…
Seema Reza on the Joy of Being (Completely) Alone
by Seema Reza
“I wrote two books in the silence of that apartment. I also ate a lot of edibles and gave myself orgasms and danced to Robyn and LCD Soundsystem and streamed a lot of television. When I’m alone, I can work or lie facedown and cry and no one knows the difference; no one is alarmed by my grief or astonished by my joy. Even as I type this, a decade into this arrangement, it seems miraculous. Wool over everyone’s eyes.”
by Kieran Dahl
“My bike is proof of life. To ride it, especially in a city like New York, is to constantly fight for mine.”
Unlearning the Ableism of Cookbooks and Kitchen Wisdom
by Gabrielle Drolet
"As I struggled to find ways to get by as well as I had before my nerve condition, I noticed how few resources were designed with disability in mind. When you read a recipe book (or anything else, really), the reader is usually assumed to be able-bodied and to have the same capacity as the writer. A recipe might give instructions like “always grind the pepper yourself”; “squeeze fresh lemon juice by hand”; “preserve your pans by not putting them in the dishwasher.” It won’t offer or even consider an alternative.”
by Peter Trachtenberg
"For a listener steeped in those tragic songs about drug addiction, “Junco Partner” is a jolt; depending on how wedded you are to the idea of the sad junkie, its jolt is either blasphemous or bracing."
This is Where it Breaks
by Liza Monroy
“At 42, the aspirations I hyper-focused on for so long suddenly held less appeal, while formerly so-called ‘trivial pursuits’ took on increased significance. Was this my midlife crisis? I wondered. Pandemic-related burnout? Mid-career burnout? At the same time, in those moments on the waves, I felt so alive. I’ve never felt more peaceful and free than when trimming high on a wave, trying to get to the nose of my longboard for the occasional fleeting “hang five” that will be the highlight of any given day. ”
Essays from around the web…
My Abortion Helped Make My Jewish Family Whole
by Judy Bolton-Fasman
“My baby girl is six months old, and when she cries incessantly, I have had fantasies about hiding her in a basket of laundry to leave at a convent’s doorstep. I grew up watching nuns traverse the fields of the Catholic college across a street from my childhood home. In their black habits, they seemed to float in pairs. I comfort myself that they will be obliged to do the right thing, like accept a baby that appears to be unwanted. My daughter sleeps as my thoughts race towards a finish line that keeps moving. All I know is that I cannot allow the seed inside me to grow into a baby.”
Irani Tikkas and the Taste of a Distant Home
by Michelle D'costa
“The Irani tikka which we loved, consisted of small pieces of local lamb meat barbecued on hot charcoal using skewers that had to be rotated manually. The meat was marinated overnight in dried lemon and the next day lean pieces would be strategically placed between fatty pieces that would then become fuel for grilling. As the grill got hotter, juice trickled down the rest of the meat, tenderising it and adding a distinct smokey flavour.”
Just Your Bare Belly
by D.W. McKinney
"What lingered from those interactions was how she made me feel—as if I were inappropriate. Like I was somehow in the wrong for not conforming properly and containing my physique within some arbitrary guidelines. That I hadn’t made my pregnant form fully disappear. Isn’t that the goal of maternity clothes, after all? To distract people from our bulging bodies with zig zags, animal prints, and florals. To keep us from standing out despite the widening of our very beings."
Stations of the Working-Class Pubescent Cross
by Jen Michalski
“I would’ve been just as cruel to him as the other kids were to me, and I don’t even know why. That’s the thing about bullying—you do it to kids and other kids do it to you, and you don’t even know why any of you do it at the time.”
by Anne Rudig
“The note in the unfamiliar hand read, Remember that being adopted doesn’t mean you’re not real. You’re just as real as anyone else…I sat with the note in my lap, stunned and glad to be alone in the kitchen... Not real? Had my mother told me I was not her real child?”
by Aimee Seiff Christian
“Adoption does not feel forever. I came with a warranty and could be returned. Love, in my house, is legal and not unconditional. So many mothers. Only two, but that is twice as many mothers as most people. 100% more mothers. 100% more complications.”
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
Hippocampus Magazine is offering more scholarships to HippoCamp: A Conference for Creative Nonfiction Writers August 12-14 in Lancaster, PA.
All scholarships cover full conference registration and entrance into a pre-conference workshop; the Friends and WOC scholarships also include a $200 travel stipend. The 2022 conference funding opportunities are:
Friends of Hippocampus Scholarship - open to all writers, two available
Writers of Color Scholarship - open to all writers of color, three awards available
Jean Snow Memorial Scholarship (sponsored by Athena Dixon) - open to unpublished writers of color
Work Hard, Not Smart Neurodiversity Scholarship (new this year, sponsored by Alexis Paige) - open to all neurodiverse writers
The Brief Encounters Scholarship for Flash Writers (new this year, sponsored by Rae Pagliarulo and Aisha Wiley) - open to all writers of flash creative nonfiction
Apply by June 15.
📢 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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