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Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue, Here Are Some Personal Essays For You
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 fifth original essay, published in First Person Singular in late June, is The Sitting Month, by Jiadai Lin. The sixth original essay is coming later in July.
Essays from partner publications…
by Seán Hewitt
“At work or at home, on public transport or just walking down the street, I shifted in and out of sight, always aware of being watched. I had practised secrecy for so long that I not only became adept at it, but it became part of myself, so that even walking down the street holding hands with another man seemed (in a contorted way) to be a violation not of the outside world, but of my own being. All those years spent sneaking around, littering my path with a thousand white lies, left me reluctant to be found out, scared of betraying myself.”
The Price of Admission for Fat Bodies
by Molly M. Pearson
“My whole life, I had worked hard to embrace the simple fact of fat on my body. Not only was I convinced that I was physically incapable of losing weight—believe me, I had tried many times—but I had reached a point where, for the first time in my life, I didn’t want to. In high school and college I had inhaled early-aughts fat-forward blogs like Feministing and Kate Harding’s classic Shapely Prose. I filled the margins of my gender studies course readings with aha moments about what it means to live in a fat feminized body and how anti-fatness is rooted in patriarchal white supremacy. I set my sights and my actions toward a world where all fat bodies would be free, my own included.”
Burning it Down
by Joy Castro
“‘In 2014, at the age of 46, I asked my hairstylist to take her clippers to my long dark mane, leaving only an eighth of an inch of silver roots next to my scalp…Since my late twenties, when my hair began to go silver, I’d colored it assiduously, like all the women in my family—like all the Latinas I knew. Dark hair was a marker of identity, of youth, of femininity, of our culture.”
Fantasy vs. Reality: When the Muse Finally Speaksby T.S. Mendola
by Antonia Angress
“Looking at women gave me ideas about how I wanted to be perceived. I didn’t like how I looked when I smiled, so I kept my face serious in photos. I was bookish and quiet; I had a group of close friends but wasn’t popular, but I understood that, in the right light, these qualities could seem like mysteriousness, which was its own kind of allure. Anyone watching could project whatever they wanted onto me. Whether I returned their gaze, confirming or disproving their assumptions, was my choice. It felt like a kind of power.”
Hook, Line, and Sinker
“The language of invasive species, though, is premised on difference: they came from somewhere else. Our response to this tends toward some combination of horror, fear, terror, panic, and myth. But to flourish in a multispecies world, Haraway writes, we can’t rely on similarity, as with dogs, and we shouldn’t react violently toward difference. Instead, we must appreciate the reality of difference — from labradoodles to carp — even when it is challenging. The language of invasion does not help us understand how to coexist in a rapidly changing world.”
Essays from around the web…
In Defence of Garlic in a Jar: How Food Snobs Almost Ruined My Love of Cooking
by Gabrielle Drolet
“The culture that surrounds cooking today is one that lends itself well to casual ableism. It’s a culture that prizes specific ways of doing things over others, constantly pitting methods and recipes against one another: French-style scrambled eggs over American; minced garlic instead of pressed...This lack of nuance is what made me believe using accessibility tools might make me a bad cook, pushing me to hurt myself even when cooking alone.”
Can I Sing To You?
“Amma loved it when I sang songs about mothers. She loved me a little more when I sang one of those. She’d smile, brimming with affection and pride, as if I was singing about her. The more I sang them, the more I hated them. I did not recognize the love that poets waxed about. I was angry at the violence that we tiptoed around in the house and never spoke of in public. I was angry at the pretense of being a happy family. I was angry my mother refused to see my anger and asked me to sing. I was angry that she never asked why I refused to sing.
by April Bradley
“It’s social time on the psych unit, and as we play cards, I tell the 16-year-old girl next to me what to expect with her abortion. A thought peeks around the corner of my mind—my mother was this girl’s very age when she had me. I examine her skin. It’s luminous, flawless. It’s a detail I’ll recall years from now when I understand the fact that she is an hallucination, an aberrant sensory experience—a living dream. Here, and in my memory, she fills up space with her presence. And yet everything I could ever wish to know about her lives within my own mind. She’s so young, it hurts to look at her.”
Memoir Monday founder Lilly Dancyger is offering some workshops you won’t want to miss!
Mark your Calendars for Monday August 8th at 7pm EST!
The quarterly Memoir Monday Reading Series, hosted by, Memoir Monday founder Lilly Dancyger, will return to Powerhouse Arena in Brooklyn, featuring Edgar Gomez, Maud Newton, Chloeé Cooper Jones, Tajja Isen, and Sari Botton. RSVP…
📢 Attention Publications and writers interested in having published essays considered for inclusion in our weekly curation:
By Thursday of each week, please send to email@example.com:
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.
You can also support Memoir Monday—and indie bookstores!—by browsing this Bookshop.org list of every book that’s been featured at the Memoir Monday reading series. It’s a great place to find some new titles to add to your TBR list!
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