Tim Hatch conducted a Poetry Workshop on confessional writing during the MT. SAC Writer’s Weekend in April 2017.
Hatch had us think about our early in life or recent memories, sacred or not, without having to give every detail to tell the memory. It’s more about the emotion. The more meaningful the memory, the better.
Then, the prompt continued with a series of questions he would ask, such as:
are you alone in this memory?
what are you wearing?
are you holding anything?
where are you?
what are you doing?
Hatch mentions that poetry is about getting a response from the audience and not to be attached to the truth because stories can change to service the poem. In other words, a memory poem is like a creative writing piece where you add fictional elements to portray the emotion and subject.
One way he suggests to clear your mind if you come to a difficult subject is to take a walk outside. It doesn’t have to be a park as long as you are walking. This works well when you have a hard time getting the images down or before you revise the piece you’re working on.
Another way Hatch suggests to revise is to ask questions like ‘if you could go back to this memory, what would you say to yourself/person in the memory?’
Sometimes revisions aren’t what we expect.
After this, you can write for ten or fifteen minutes. Go ahead and try it based on the few questions I have. You can add more questions regarding the five senses.
At first, I didn’t have a clue as to what to write, but as he asked the questions, I was able to bring out the memory of walking to the bus stop as a child.
The last suggestion Hatch shared was to write in complete darkness for 20 minutes in order to extract a memory. However, he cautions that this is an intensely emotional exercise and not to have any sharp objects nearby =) I’ve tried this only once and found myself with dream-like poems, but you never know what you’ll get until you try.