MEMORY TRICKS: WRITING THE PERSONAL ESSAY
Eight Wednesdays from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. (March 7–April 25)
1200 Atwater Avenue, Suite 3
Workshop leader: Jon Paul Fiorentino
This course will address the genre of the personal essay with a focus on humour and confessional writing. We will look at examples of successful personal essays by writers like Mark Twain, Timothy Findley, Jonathan Ames, David McGimpsey, Stuart Ross, Sarah Vowell, and David Sedaris. We will also look at some confessional poems in order to place emphasis on the artful transcription of memory.
Most of the course will be devoted to developing the skills required to write effective literary personal essays. Students will be asked to participate in a classic workshop environment and to bring energy and enthusiasm to the class. There will be a few fun in-class writing exercises as well.
We will look at how rhetorical and poetic strategies are used in personal writing. We will explore the different models of the genre. And most importantly, we will discover how we as writers can make memory work by achieving that fine balance between true documentation of memory and strategic deployment of fiction.
Some Suggested Reading:
* Ames, Jonathan. My Less Than Secret Life
* Ames, Jonathan, What's Not to Love?
* McGimpsey, David. Certifiable
* Ross, Stuart. Confessions of a Small Press Racketeer
* Sedaris, David. Barrel Fever
* Sedaris, David. Naked
* Vowell, Sarah. The Partly Cloudy Patriot
Jon Paul Fiorentino is a writer, editor and teacher. His personal essays have recently appeared in Word, Geist, sub-Terrain, and on CBC Radio One's All in a Weekend. He is the author of The Theory of the Loser Class (Coach House Books, 2006), Asthmatica (Insomniac Press, 2005), and Hello Serotonin (Coach House Books, 2004). His most recent editorial projects are the anthologies Career Suicide! Contemporary Literary Humour (DC Books, 2003) and Post-Prairie—a collaborative effort with Robert Kroetsch (Talonbooks, 2005). He lives in Montreal where he teaches writing at Concordia University and is the editor of Matrix magazine.