This program is made possible through a generous gift from Ruth and Russell Bolton
in conjunction with the Eberly College of Arts & Sciences.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sensory Memories

This past Thursday, residents of Summitt Hall and I focused on writing about memories through our senses.  I read an excerpt from Tell it Slant in which Virginia Woolf describes those first somewhat dim memories beyond our initial understanding-- a mother's look as she sips coffee, a floral pattern on her dress, blind chords in the living room.  As we ate RFL Caleb's homemade tomato soup, RFL Kelly mentioned foods that remind her of home (Idaho fry bread for her, pasta with no sauce for me).  I brought Bernard Cooper's essay "The Fine Art of Sighing" to show how an essay can be structured from memories based on a particular sense (in that case, sound).  Summitt resident Caroline read the piece aloud for us.  We then wrote memories from each sense with the eventual idea of finding connections between them that might sustain itself in the form of a brief essay.

One student wrote a meditation on burning couches.  Where else had these couches been before?  What scenes had they played in?  She wrote with humor and specificity.  She then brought her piece around to a couch she'd recently purchased for her dorm room and ruminated on its history.  After she read it, I mentioned Marquez' magical realism in unveiling objects' histories and Kelly mentioned giving a craft talk about how objects are a great thing to use in essays.  (Look for Caroline's piece in the Summitt Newsletter!).

Another student wrote about a dog she had lost and how the fall leaves reminds her of his playfulness.  We reflected on how easily grief can come forth from a prompt like, "Write about the memories inside your senses" and how writing might have a place in that process and can also be an homage to what was lost.  

Another wrote about the sound of an old TV show that was often on in the background of her childhood.  She wrote of sounds and images at an angle, speaking to that dimness of memory with clear, concise language.  Another wrote about her experiences in bathrooms during travels-- both humorous and intriguing and left us wanting more.  And still another, the taste of a tongue ring in a first kiss.

As always, lots of good writing and thoughtful conversation.  Summitt Hall Residents: Join us for our last Bolton Workshop of the semester on Thursday Nov. 29th at 7:30 in the RFL apartment!

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