Page count: 4 pages
Format: MLA, double-spaced, 12-point font
In I Remember Joe Brainard creates momentum and pace through the repetition of the phrase “I remember . . . ” The memories themselves vary from the general to the particular, from the surreal to the grounded, from the humorous to the serious. He uses abstractions and generalizations, anaphora (repetition of a word or words at the beginning of two or more successive verses, clauses, or sentences), sentence variation for impact, and specificity/nuance of detail to take us on a compelling journey through the mind. Using sentences that are stream of conscious and mimetic of the ways memories are recalled, Brainard calls into question the reliability of memory as well as its power to shape us.
Write a similar imitation memoir essay that takes its structure from Brainard’s essay. Think carefully about what you want to “remember,” but also what you choose not to remember. Will you reveal what you “don’t” remember to your readers or let that information go unsaid? Try playing with the length of memories as Brainard does. For example, go deep into one specific memory, then follow it with eight quick, short remembrances. Will you remember moments incorrectly? Will you trigger the memories of your readers through shared experiences?
· Don’t be afraid to add summary (i.e. “I remember that life was just as serious then as it is now”).
· Focus on the importance of placement and try playing with alternate ways to reveal story. For example, instead of writing, “I remember hating school,” Brainard writes, “I remember the clock from three to three-thirty.”
· Focus on imagery and sensory details that evoke one of the five senses. What do you remember seeing, feeling, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching?
· Focus on alternating between particular memories (i.e. “I remember wearing Barbie sneakers in the Payless parking lot”) and those that are more universal (i.e. “I remember knowing that death was sad”).
· Focus on alternating between specific details and abstract generalizations.
· What is the underlying and overall story, character sketch, conflict, and what themes are your memories are conveying?