PROMPT: Memory and Emotion

Last Saturday at VoiceCATCH, we mined our memories for our writing. Here’s how:

First, number your paper from 1-25. Then write down 25 memories from your life. Try to do this relatively quickly, without getting hung up on any one.

Then, go back through your list and assign an emotion to each memory. It’s the emotion of an experience that will connect with readers, rather than the experience itself. As Italian writer Cesare Pavese said, “We do not remember days, we remember moments.”

Choose the memory that’s the most intriguing to you, and use that to begin a piece of writing.


We also looked at three books that use memory in different ways. Marjorie Agosín’s Of Earth and Sea is a collection of vignettes that together create a memoir of Agosín’s childhood in Chile.

The Watsons Go to Birmingham–1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis is a fictional novel for 8-12 year olds (also good for adults) that reads like a memoir. One wonders how much was informed or inspired by the author’s life.

Lyn Hejinian’s My Life is a collection of prose poems where each poem addresses a year of the author’s life. My Life is also interesting in that Hejinian has revised and republished it at different stages of her life.