The letter itself may be a dying art but essays and memoir written in letter format are very much alive and working hard in personal narrative. Memoirs like Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “Between the World and Me,” Eve Ensler’s “Apology” and essays by James Baldwin, Virginia Woolf and Selah Shah allow the writer to get personal, intimate and to the point directly and swiftly – in summary fashion – with a “you-me” or “me-you” structure. The episolatory essay or memoir can tell its story via letter or letters, diary entry, news story, historic document, transcript or social media chat and relies on a variety of lengths and tenses. We’ll look at sections of memoir and essays that represent the elasticity of this word form that can offer shape and structure solutions for works-in-progress.
About Ellen Blum Barish
Ellen Blum Barish is author of the essay collection, Views from the Home Office Window, and just completed a memoir now being represented by an agent. She is the editor of Thread: A Literary Publication, which earned two notables in Best American Essays and Stitch, a monthly publication of 100-word essays. Her essays and personal stories have been published in The Chicago Tribune, Tablet, Brevity’s Blog, Full Grown People, Literary Mama, aired on WBEZ Public Radio and have been told at numerous Chicago storytelling events. She teaches writing at Northwestern University where she received a master’s in journalism. Ellen works privately with individuals on a variety of writing projects through her workshops and coaching and was awarded the 2018 Award for Individual Artistic Excellence by the Skokie Arts Commission. For more about Ellen, go to www.ellenblumbarish.com.
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