Put Story Poems in Your Memoir Tool Box!

Two metal lawn chairs


by Janet Grace Riehl with Stephanie Farrow

During Stories from the Heart V (February 5-7, 2010 in Austin, Texas) Story Circle Network’s National Memoir Conference will be
abuzz with myriad ways of storytelling. Among these workshops will be mine: “Story
Poems: A Tool for Writing Our Stories.”

The story-poem is an often-overlooked form for telling our stories. We’ll discuss the genre and its unique niche in storytelling. We’ll compare samples of prose and story poems. Then you’ll practice turning your own prose into a story poem.

What is a story poem? A story poem combines highly compressed narrative, musing, and observation using poetic techniques such as alliteration, imagery, and metaphor. In the story poem, as in prose, the sentence rather than the line is the primary unit.

Besides introducing the story poem genre, we’ll examine when the form is
best used. What are its advantages and disadvantages as a writing tool? Would your own writing projects benefit from using or borrowing from the story poem form?

Poetry is an excellent genre for memoir because it condenses the story, handles emotion deftly, and is open to non-linear constructions. The story poem fosters dialogue, character, event, and understated language.  Being familiar with story poems allows you to see your story from a different perspective. They are also good teachers of craft elements that make your writing strong.

To learn more about story poems and my work browse three links from Kendra Bonnett and Matilda Butler’s Women’s Memoirs

Read story poem as memoir tool here.

Listen to a recording of our discussion on
story poems as memoir

Check out Kendra’s review my audio book “Sightlines:
A Family Love Story in Poetry and Music”


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