Memoir and Letting Go–“The Stone”

Sadly, the weekend is coming to an end, so I’m going to make tonight’s post a little shorter so we can both soak up the remaining drops of Sunday!

I’ve been thinking a lot about memoir lately, especially because of my upcoming presentation on May 9th (you can view the event in the calendar on the right side bar). My sister and I are going to be telling the story of the incredible journey that my traumatic brain injury took my family on. I will be reading excerpts from my upcoming memoir, Afterglow. The event will include an elegant luncheon at the Waterleaf Restaurant at College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn. There will also be fabulous gift baskets available for raffle!  All proceeds go to Marianjoy. Tickets are $40, and you can pay by mail or at the door, but RSVP is required by April 30th. To register, just email me at jellysideupblog@gmail.com or leave a comment with your info and I will contact you!

Anyway, I’ve been working a lot on shaping some memoir pieces for my presentation. This process is pretty complicated and emotional, but it is so important. To build off of last night’s post, there is so much healing that can take place when you write out your pain. The unique situation for my memoir is I’m writing about a time where my memory is pretty shaky–that part of my brain was damaged at that time, and therefore, so is my memory. Luckily, my family kept really good records, both on paper and in their own memories, so those are rich resources for me to tap into. Reaching back into the past of that painful time for my family has been rewarding and shocking for me. The whole experience was packed full of emotion from everyone, and the presiding emotion that bound together all the fragments of pain was love. The discovery of that pain itself is a fresh shock to me–an aftershock–because my family (and friends and boyfriend) were so brave to hide anything but happiness and encouragement around me, and that is why I healed so well. The writing of the memoir itself is almost a new experience for me, and it carries its pain with it, but there is a beauty in the retrospect of how there was so much good during such a dark time.

I recently wrote this poem, describing the burden of this new knowledge, and the impulse to be selfish with it–not to want anyone to share the pain with you, not only because you don’t want to hurt them, but also because there is a pride in owning something so enormous and deep. At the AWP conference this year, I attended a panel about memoir, and one of the panelists said something that really stuck with me. This poem is also a response to that statement.  I’m sharing this with you now because it builds so well off of last night’s post, and it also matches NaPoWriMo‘s prompt for today:

I challenge you to write a poem in which each line except the last takes the form of a single, declarative sentence. Then, the final line should take the form of a question. With any luck, this will result in poems that have a sort of driving, reportorial tone, but with a powerful rhetorical finish.

“The Stone”
By: Amanda K. Fowler

A memoirist professed—
“This story,
It is a stone fastened to the heart.”
Yes, I said,
Yes.
“Once you tell the story,
The stone is loosened
And falls away.
You will be free.”
I’m not sure
I’m ready
To let it go,
For this stone
Has crept into my heart.
Once I let it go,
What part of me
Will leave with it?

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2 thoughts on “Memoir and Letting Go–“The Stone”

  1. Another amazing post Amanda, you are so *incredibly* gifted. Your poetry is a delight to read, very evocative. Knowing from whence it comes puts in an entirely different light for those of us lucky enough to see it. :)

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