February 12, 2008

6 Word Memoirs

I stumbled upon a book while I was looking for some "flash fiction" - those short, short stories. It's called Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure by Larry Smith.

There are a thousand of these little literary glimpses of humanity. The "assignment" is to capture one life in 6 words.

Some of you have probably seen the Ernest Hemingway example that may have inspired the book:
"For Sale: baby shoes, never worn."
There certainly is at least one story in that half dozen words.

Enter Larry Smith. He founded SMITH Magazine on January 6, 2006, which is National Smith Day. He was the articles editor and still contributes to Men's Journal, and had been the executive editor of Yahoo! Internet Life, senior editor at ESPN magazine, a founding editor of P.O.V. and Might magazines.

When his online storytelling magazine SMITH asked readers to submit six-word memoirs, he received funny and serious entries.

There's the bittersweet romance of "Found true love, married someone else" and just bitter regret of "After Harvard, had baby with crackhead."

Then he went to the famous of the title (Jonathan Lethem, Richard Ford, Stephen Colbert, Amy Sedaris, Sebastien Junger...)

It's not exactly a poetry writing prompt, but how about giving the assignment a try and posting your own six word memoir here as a comment?


  1. There appears to be a thin line between flash fiction and prose poems. Perhaps you'd like to share your thoughts on what the differences are.

  2. I think this could be a poetry prompt too - memoir haiku? I like it!

    look at these:





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