Making sense of life: putting your memoir in poetic discourse (writing prompt)

Dent Blanche im Nebel, 4000er im Kanton Wallis, Schweiz. Alps of Switzerland

Following this post published few weeks ago, it occurred to me: there is always something we haven’t told yet. A story, an event or memory that we shy from for some reason, that we avoid thinking about, talking about. And I don’t mean talking to others, but to ourselves. That internal conversation (or lack of it), has a subtle impact on our day to day life governing our decisions and choices in ways we are not even aware of. Our subconsciousness is like a vast ocean where we can drown deep with our feelings or we can strive for the surface to enjoy the sun and blue sky.

Each emotion and memory from the past has hidden opportunity for growth and healing. And these are the main reasons why people engage in writing memoirs. It’s a path of self-exploration, where time, the main ingredient offers different perspectives and lays a platform for us to embrace and accept our past. Not simply to remember but to celebrate each moment in life as these moments are the foundation for our future self. It can be painful and cathartic, but most importantly – freeing! In this interesting interview, Samantha M. White the author of  Someone to Talk To: Finding Peace, Purpose, and Joy After Tragedy and Loss explains that in your memoir writing  – the results can go beyond your initial intention.

Writing my memoir transformed my life. Not only my day-to-day present, and my future, but even the past about which I had written!

Transformation was not my goal. I wrote it because I had a story pent up inside me, pressing to be told – to share what had happened to me, and how I had found my way out of pain. I wanted to assure readers of the universality of suffering, and the reality of healing and finding new joy. I felt driven, and afraid that if I died before publishing the book, an important message wouldn’t be heard”.

So today I want to propose a bit different writing exercise. Think of any event or situation in your life that you would like to understand better, to explore, analyze or that just needs to be ‘poured’ on your paper and write a poem about it. Tell your story using poetry. And you might ask, why just don”t write about it? I think that poetry goes beyond prose writing and it allows you more freedom to express your feelings in different ways. Often we can’t find the right plain, straightforward words to say something but it needs metaphoric guidance that offers us strengths to deeply dive into the ocean of our subconsciousness. Take your time and write your way through it.

Narrative form of poetry and memoir complements each other to open the door of that internal conversation – you might be surprised what ‘s on the other side.

I personally often use this technique to simply sort my feelings and make a sense of life. These confessional poems are often highly emotionally charged and there’s the beauty: being able to feel is for me a proof that I’m alive. Accept every emotion that comes your way, because that’s human – to be vulnerable and celebrate your flaws, mistakes and successes as you navigate through life – the best you can.

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