Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie wrote hers like this: “Nobody is ever just a refugee.” M. Night Shyamalan contributed these words: “My accent has become my voice.” For his part, Junot Díaz wrote: “We immigrants are America's true superpower.”
These are just a few of the voices that fill up the pages of the latest in the Six-Word Memoir series, masterminded by writer Larry Smith. This time around, the series tackles migration in the new collection, which is available in print as Fresh Off the Boat: Stories of Immigration, Identity, and Coming to America.
The Six-Word Memoir project grew out of sixwordmemoirs.com, a site that still collects and archives the sentence-long stories of people with a knack for the succinct—or at least up to the challenge. The content is created by all manner of users who simply create an account and compose away, distilling experience down to the sentence level. Fresh Off the Boat is the ninth published book that has grown out of the project, and yes, the title is in reference to the ABC television show created by Eddie Huang. (In fact, much of the cast of “Fresh Off the Boat” contributes a line and the program is an official collaborator on the collection.)
Smith, who is currently on tour to promote the latest in the series, will make a stop at Bookworks (4022 Rio Grande NW) on Friday, Sept. 29, at 6pm. Over the course of the evening, Smith will detail the decade-long journey of Six-Word Memoir and contributors to the series will read their stories, using them as a springboard for long-form discussion. Contributors that will read include author of Orange is the New Black, Piper Kerman. Before the evening wraps up, attendees will have the opportunity to stand up and participate in a “Six-Word Slam,” reading their own flash memoirs.
You can also contribute anytime at sixwordmemoirs.com. As Walt Whitman wrote, in answer to the why's and the how's that spring from life's challenges: “That you are here—that life exists and identity,/That the powerful play goes on, and you may/contribute a verse.” Six-Word Memoir allows all of us—in our own way, in our own words, in our own sentence—to contribute our verse.