Your Weekly Dose of Personal Essays
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 third original essay, published in the First Person Singular series, is What Water Taught Me About My Irrational Fears, by Flávia Monteiro. The fourth original essay is coming in mid-June.
Essays from partner publications…
Diary of a Journey to Senegal
by Ishion Hutchinson
“The sea at night. Somewhere between Port Antonio and here, Îles de la Madeleine, lie these forgotten (nearly, for fishermen still use them) and never-inhabited group of islands (four altogether): there, rock pools fill with water that looks black and greenish but is as clear as tears; bluffs are whitened by the shit of cormorants and other birds; the wonderful clear smell of this ancient and renewed bird shit that has the balm scent of salt…Now I know something else, something about the composition of the sea at night, the dance that lasts into the shimmer of morning and all is full of a settled, coral joy.”
Why I'm No Longer Defending Whiteness
by Taylor Harris
“The past two years have, if anything, solidified my view that America may never change enough for me. You should not vote me into office. I will not deliver the rousing unity speech. And yet I trust and even hope in my five-year-old’s ability to grapple with her own lived experiences, to wrest meaning from them when it’s time, to identify patterns and themes.”
Not My Home
by Trisha Kostis
"I am moving again, against my will, at the age of 62. This will be my fourteenth move since leaving my family home in 1978, at age 18. That house, built by my parents, and occupied by my sisters and I until we achieved adulthood, represented permanence, like an ancient ruin. Yet somehow, I have failed to gain a foothold on a plot of land for longer than a few years at a time. As with the last three fine dwellings I’ve rented, this house that I have styled with elegance and flair for the past three years is about to be sold out from under me.”
On Reading My Memoir to My Father
by Séamas O'Reilly
"I’m back home for the first time all year. With vaccinations rolled out and protocols relaxed, face-to-face interactions with vulnerable people are now possible for the first time since December. So too, then, is tonight’s appointment; me reading from my soon-to-be-published book, Did Ye Hear Mammy Died. I am speaking to an audience of one, who happens to be the book’s foremost subject, my 74-year-old father, Joe, or Daddy as Northern Irish naming conventions insist he must be addressed."
Someone Else’s Language
by Kate Vieira
“I believed my time abroad would transform me into someone with clarity, perspective, a specific and coherent identity. But what I learned was that once you start speaking someone else’s language — once you welcome it into your body, once it becomes a filter for your everyday heartbreaks and cups of tea — your identity becomes more diffuse, not less.”
At the Playground
by Lucas Mann
“At the playground, we say, I’m sorry. We say, Please say excuse me, and then eventually we say, Excuse us.”
Essays from around the web…
The best $2,618 I ever spent: A second wedding ceremony
by Jay Deitcher
“We were suffering from the fallout of the past year: everything leading to what would be our first wedding ceremony. I didn’t deal well with change, and a wedding changes everything. It changes your family structure, changes how to organize finances. I was fiercely independent, and I didn’t have faith I could care for anyone else. But Antoinette always believed in me, and, somehow, every time I struggled with moving forward in our relationship, and every time I struggled with moving forward in life, Antoinette pushed me, and together we got through.”
by Ofelia Brooks
“For weeks after my grandmother’s death, I couldn’t sleep. I didn’t miss her, because I didn’t really know her. I didn’t know anything about her interests or passions, or much about her life before she was my grandmother. But I knew what she sounded like. And that’s what I missed.”
Love in the Time of Racial Reckoning
by Nicole Zhao
"The week that a white man murdered six Asian women in Atlanta, I felt rage and grief course through me like never before, hot and flooding. Meanwhile, my boyfriend was relatively silent. He didn’t know how to support me, and I wasn’t sure if I was expecting too much to want that. When he did not recognize the depth of pain and grief the Atlanta murders unleashed in me, I felt keenly the limitations of a love that does not engage with race. I used to think “love conquers all,” but I realized that for me, love, without sustained advocacy and organizing toward equity, is insufficient."
I Have 'The Office' To Thank For Saving My Relationship With My Daughter
by Abby Alten Schwartz
“I turned to my 22-year-old daughter, Sammie, who was reheating coffee in the microwave. Our moments in the kitchen rarely overlapped these days, and when they did, they were often strained. On the tip of my tongue was a grenade that, once lobbed, would set off a battle of grievances and retorts. As our eyes met, her smile fell and her body stiffened, bracing for yet another criticism.”
Memoir Monday editor Sari Botton’s memoir in essays, And You May Find Yourself, will be published tomorrow Tuesday, 6/14!
Tonight, June 13th, 8pm Franklin Park Reading Series in Crown Heights, Brooklyn
📢 Attention Publications and writers interested in having published essays considered for inclusion in our weekly curation:
By Thursday of each week, please send to firstname.lastname@example.org:
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.
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