9781505429053: Memoirs & Dreams: Essays on Remembering and Imagining by University of Bucharest, American Studies, MA Students
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Memoir, as a genre, has a bit of a bad reputation. It’s often seen as self-indulgent and cloying. Dorothy Parker puts it this way: "All those writers who write about their childhood! Gentle God, if I wrote about mine you wouldn't sit in the same room with me." Friedrich Nietzsche offers a more earnest solution to the problem of wallowing in self-pity and over-familiar language: enjoy the observation. He writes: “The man who is responsive to artistic stimuli reacts to the reality of dreams as does the philosopher to the reality of existence; he observes closely, and he enjoys his observation: for it is out of these images that he interprets life, out of these processes that he trains himself for life.” Aleksandar Hemon offers the idea of transformation as a way to avoid the solipsism smothering so much of contemporary confessional memoir. He writes: “Whatever experience you may have had, whatever stories you might have to tell about yourself, they have to be transformed into something that's meaningful beyond yourself. And because it's transformed at some point, it stops being about you.” Creative Nonfiction: Memoirs and Dreams sought to investigate how recollection relates to daydreaming with the idea in mind that an echo is never an exact reproduction of the original sound. Thus, mimesis does not mean copying nature—mimesis means becoming nature by doing and redoing. Together, we recognized that we—as writers—are, at least partly, the result of a series of our own choices. This recognition of the serial components of individuality—arrived at by committee, as Mark Strand might say—presented us with the first step to moving beyond the familiar comforts of remembering what happened and on to the strange perils of imagining what is possible. While indeed, as we learned together, imagining has its potential dangers—like feeling judged, vulnerable, and unsure—it also has its potential pleasures—like feeling relief, sharing visions, and moving readers. Together, as I hope you will agree, these courageous and curious writers are able to transform parts of their lives into literature—whether comic, scary, traumatic, embarrassing, loving—by paying careful attention to the language they choose to convey their memories and dreams. While we mainly focused on producing original writing based on memories and dreams, we also read essays by writers such as: John Ashbery, Toi Derricotte, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Michel de Montaigne, Sylvia Plath, and Virginia Woolf. Gene Tanta Bucharest, 2013

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Gene Tanta (Iowa Writers’ Workshop MFA, UW-Milwaukee PhD) is a poet, teacher, and translator of contemporary Romanian poetry. Dr. Tanta reads and writes about twentieth-century American poetry, first-generation American poets, and the European Avant-garde. His first poetry book, Unusual Woods, pays homage to engaged and surrealist poetry. Pastoral Emergency, his second poetry book, folds identity politics into the abecedarian form. Journal publications include: Ploughshares, EPOCH, Indiana Review, Columbia Poetry Review, Exquisite Corpse, Circumference Magazine, The Laurel Review, and Drunken Boat. While living in Bucharest as Fulbright Scholar, he began a bilingual anthology titled Biography After Communism: Romanian Poetry After 1989.

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