Build Me a Hummingbird: How to Distill Your Life in a Micro-Memoir

With Beth Ann Fennelly

Purchase this Recorded Program


Author : Alana Calhoun

What should we do when we have the urge to write our stories, but we can’t
figure out how or where to start? This all-levels, interactive masterclass will
provide strategies for those seeking to answer this question, and our main
strategy will be this: start small.

Our spirit animal for this class will be the hummingbird. The hummingbird is the only bird that can fly forward, backward, sideways, and, for short distances,
upside down. Precisely because they are so small, hummingbirds can do things
other birds can’t do. In this class, we’ll look at tiny texts and study the things that they can do because they are small. How can attention to the tiniest literary creations challenge and inspire us? How can writing small trick us into writing our big stories?

The schedule for this five-hour online class will go like this: Beth Ann will begin with an hour and a half craft talk that introduces you to word-hummingbirds such as the monostich, the 6-word memoir, the aphorism, the ten-second essay, and the American Sentence. In this first segment of the master class, she’ll intersperse ten things she’s learned from writing tiny texts. Then she’ll turn class attention to her favorite short form, the micro-memoir. In today’s increasingly heterogeneous landscape, cross-genre works that blend inheritances from multiple literary parents have a new urgency and popularity. Combining the extreme brevity of poetry, the narrative arc of fiction, and the truth-telling of creative nonfiction, the micro-memoir is an exciting hybrid. It’s also unusually user-friendly, especially for writers who feel overwhelmed or intimidated when faced with telling their truths. This portion of class will end with a writing prompt. You will have one hour to draft, take a break, or join Beth Ann, a certified Pilates instructor, in an optional stretch session. Next, when we come back together, you’ll have the opportunity to share your micro-memoirs in small groups. And the last hour will be a general discussion and time for any questions.

Beth Ann Fennelly

Beth Ann Fennelly

Beth Ann Fennelly has published three poetry books: Open House, Tender Hooks, and Unmentionables, all with W. W. Norton. She is also the author of 3 books of prose: Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs; Great With Child: Letters to a Young Mother, a collection of essays; and The Tilted World, a novel co-authored with her husband Tom Franklin. Beth Ann’s poetry has been in over fifty anthologies, including Best American Poetry, The Book of Irish American Poetry from the Eighteenth Century to the Present, Poets of the New Century, and The Penguin Book of the Sonnet. She teaches in the MFA Program at the University of Mississippi, where she was named Outstanding Teacher of the Year.

Make a Donation Today

Make a Donation Today

Do you love the content produced by The Rowe Center.  We invite you to make a donation today to support our mission.