Rusty Tarbet, co-emcee, TEDxMarionCorrectional
My wife, Piper Kerman, author of Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison, and I are in the same business: starting conversations. I created Six-Word Memoirs as a simple way for anyone and everyone to express themselves. When anyone shares six words—on SixWordMemoirs.com, in a classroom, at speed-dating event or To Write Love on Her Arms meetups—what often happens next is someone else responds with three more words: “Tell me more.” Piper wrote her book in hopes that her story, and those of the women she served time with, would spark conversations about the U.S. criminal justice system and lead many people to also want to explore this issue more deeply.
I love those moments when our work intersects. Such was the case at a recent TEDx event at Marion Correctional Institution, a men’s medium security prison in Marion, Ohio, bringing together speakers from both inside and outside the prison walls, including members of the administration, to talk about the theme “Refolding The Box?”
TEDxMarionCorrectional was the first TEDx held inside an adult male prison. It’s since held three events at Marion Correctional, each co-curated by inmates. Speakers included inmates, correctional officers, and local community members who have worked with the prison population.
The supermoon inspired many of you these past two weeks. In SixContest #33, we saw the wicked, the scary, the unusual, and the magical. All shared a fantastical essence, but only six can shine under the moonlight. Here are our favorites:
6. “…his dark side is looking good.” -TeaTopper
5. “Cows are jumping; silverware is running.” -Bevvie
4. “My emotions surfaced; this stone cried.” -Jo1454
3. “The stars are wearing their tiaras.” -Solstice22
2. “My boss actually said, ‘Thank You.’” -cuzinvin
And our top moonstruck memoir is…
1. “Everyone is tiptoeing around the asylum.” -catsmeow
Congrats to catsmeow and thanks to everyone who joined in the fun! Whether in our Caption Contests, on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or at sixwordmemoirs.com—keep on Sixing!
Early nomads traveled in tribes. Each group was like an extended family, with brothers, daughters, wives, and grandchildren all playing an important role for their community. These roles and connections kept them strong and protected. As our Sixers have shown this week, some of those nomadic values remain prevalent today. Their memoirs underscore bonds you want to embrace (“My sister, my friend with context.”) and realities that are tough to swallow (“Parents getting older. Time won’t stop”). They all play a part in the Six-Word tribe, making our family stronger than ever. –Gilmarie Brioso
Best Affection: “My son is my promised land.” –Steve_Anthony
Most Sorrow: “Distant cousins, grief never met relief.” –BanjoDan
Strongest Duality: “My sister, my friend with context.” –sherre
Best Reality: “Sleep: ancient memory to new parent.” –b-sting
Most Honest: “Parents getting older. Time won’t stop.” –cheesehead1976
Most Whimsical: “Son became little sister’s tooth fairy.” –AmyMarieLove
Plus! Today’s the final day! There’s still time to enter this week’s SixContest: “It must be a full moon because…“ Get your responses in by Friday, 8/15 – 3pm ET.
There is no finer way to connect than through laughter and Robin Williams was a master at indulging this human delight. As people immediately reeled from the shock of his untimely death at age 63, reportedly a suicide, our community turned to Six-Word Memoirs to grapple with the unbelievable news and share their personal responses. Many quickly got to the heart of what made his death so shocking—that depression seemingly led to that point of no return.
It’s almost inconceivable that the man who delivered humor with such intensity, and who conveyed passion like no other, could not maintain that zest for life when he needed it most. But, as Sixer marymc was quick to tell us, “Depression doesn’t care who you are.”
The memoirs shared have expressed sorrow over his passing, gratitude for his legacy, and honor a man who touched us all. Here are a handful of the incredible Six-Word tributes to Robin Williams, many with touching backstories and comments. May he forever rest in peace.
“And all of Ork silently mourns.“ –Steve__Anthony
“Robin’s song became a sob. RIP.“ –favepeep
“Lights along the Hudson, dimmed again.“ –Honesthead
“No genie could grant his wish.“ –lillybrook
“The world is less funny today.“ –DukeRaider
“Robin Williams was my Princess Di.“ –JohnBigJohn
“Oh captain, my captain, stay funny.“ –notjustagirlintheworld
“Robin made us laugh, now cry.“ –zsuzsa
“Expired; stars glow for eons; still.“ –MissUnderstood
“My farewell: Robin was a genius.“ –NumbrOneAunt
“Dead Poets inspired me to teach.“ –jrmiller
“Now Robin Williams joins the list…“ –LetTheWolfin
“Fame’s difficult. Shame’s even more so.“ –Contemplative
“Cronauer said it, Williams owned it.“ –steelponypoet
“Laughter is universal. Depression is personal.” –Dawn Bernstein (@dawnbe1229 via Twitter)
“The vulnerability of genius is paper-thin.“ –canadafreeze
“And you will contribute a verse.“ –Believe
We are incredibly visual creatures. As writers, our words leap off the page to fill that need and images propel those words even further. Not only do our Sixers fashion fantastic images through words, they understand the power images bring to their memoirs. This week’s best memoirs are flooded with imagery. Some of our Sixers’ photos make their words abundantly vivid (“Growing hops for privacy, not beer.”); others add interesting twists to their tales (“Strands of pain tangled in happiness.”). These images create another layer of meaning, making the memoirs more scintillating and profound. —Gilmarie Brioso
Most Modern: “My ouija board only uses emoticons.” —JohnBigJohn
Best Green Thumb: “Growing hops for privacy, not beer.” —canadafreeze
Most Foreign: “Sketching unfamiliar faces of unfamiliar people.” —SmokeForScience
Toughest Narrative Arc: “Strands of pain tangled in happiness.” —MissUnderstood
Most Honest: “I’m not fat. I’m just McAmerican.” —spelly78_fromtwitter
Most Turbulent: “On stormy seas. Need a lighthouse.” —alipie
Plus! Check out the wonderful memoirs from the fifth grade class at Riverdale Country School, whose students paired their words with images to reflect on their year.
When you fall down the rabbit hole of Twitter, you find some amazing tips and projects. As Meg Krause traversed through tweets and replies, she discovered Six-Word Memoirs and shared the project with her fifth grade students. Krause teaches at Riverdale Country School, a K-12 independent school in New York City that honors the whole child. She explains: “I thought they would be intrigued by the concept and indeed they were!”
Krause used Six-Word Memoirs to help her students understand the strength of well-chosen words. “It was also a great lesson in the power of revision as the students wrote and rewrote based on peer feedback,” she adds. Taking the project a step further, Krause asked students to pair their carefully crafted words to powerful visuals: “They loved matching words to images.” Six-Word Memoirs came to these students during a very special time—fifth grade is the final year of Lower School at Riverdale. The activity gave students a chance to reflect on themselves as learners and their growth throughout the year. As an end-of-year celebration, a video was created to share with parents and faculty. Music accompanied the student’s words and images; the kids singing their graduation song, known at Riverdale as their “moving-up song,” can be heard in the background.
Now Six-Word Memoirs has found a home at Riverdale. “My students loved the activity of creating and sharing their Six-Word Memoirs. It was an especially gratifying experience for my struggling writers,” says Krause. “Six-Word Memoirs is an easy entry point for all students and [allows] many ways for students to push themselves.”
We are honored to be part of the Riverdale students’ educational path and hope they carry Six-Word Memoirs with them as their journey proceeds.
This SixContest proves it: the Six-Word community knows how to live life! Your six-word recipes were decadent, delightful, and downright delicious. With hundreds of submissions on our site and across social media, we can’t make all of the recipes entered, but these top six certainly deserve a try.
6. “Patio, Pints, and playful poker parties.” -Anne Austen-Lewis (via Facebook)
5. “Hear the melody, chase the truck.” -@MJmatters (via Twitter)
4. “Coconut shrimp with mango pineapple salsa.” -CanadaGoose
3. “Men who loved me with fruit.” -Smongar
2. “Lemon sorbet and Prosecco: grownup Slushee.” -AnnMC
And our top Six-Word summer recipe is…
1. “Sunset, mountain mist, bourbon, branch water.” -Berea2011
Congrats to Berea2011 and thanks to everyone who joined in the fun! Whether in our Caption Contests, on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or at sixwordmemoirs.com—keep on Sixing!
Life is often cushioned by dreams. Whether disconnecting from your day or reconnecting with your desires, dreams offer us a way to escape, explore, and imagine. This week’s Sixers are captivated by their dreams. Some dreams grace us as we sleep (“I too still dream in color.”); others hold our cherished aspirations (“Poetry of unfinished hopes and dreams.”). Dreams are a truly a mystical thing—they spark creativity, encourage understanding, offer us paths to explore and can bring us to a place of peace. -Gilmarie Brioso
Most Personified: “My maple tree daydreams of leaping.” -BanjoDan
Most Honest: “Poetry of unfinished hopes and dreams.” -theLotLessMonster
Toughest Narrative Arc: “Fled Indiana for dreams. Returned quickly.” -vogler
Best Backstory: “Wow! Dreams really do come true.” -amandataramona
Best Affair: “My dreams are seeing other people.” -randomwriter013
Best Hues: “I too still dream in color.” -EveningSkies
Plus! There’s still time to show us the MasterChef in you! SixContest #32 challenges you to create a yummy summer recipe in just Six Words. Ends Friday 8/1, 3pm ET.
“What keeps me here is the pure joy of consuming everyone’s thinking condensed into such delicious morsels. I’m constantly amazed at the degree of wisdom, emotion, humor, love and life that can be communicated in so few words. ”
Name: Ellis Reyes
Place: Suburbs of Seattle, Washington
SMITH member since:
Ellis Reyes’ memoirs are much like the monkey in his profile image: funny and facetious, bold and unapologetic. Posting as Ellis_Reyes, he crafts cleverly told tales (“She sold Grandma’s ring. Bought boobs“) and can be sarcastically ironic (“Cynicism sucks, just like everything else“) or poignantly sentimental (“Invincibility died with my friend John”). His Sixes and backstories about service (“Don’t ask if I killed someone“) and education (“Kids are more than test scores“) are particularly powerful. Our congratulations to Ellis Reyes as our Memoirist of the Month for August. He can put the Six-Word Memoir of his choice on a first-rate T-shirt from our friends at Spreadshirt. Read more about Ellis Reyes: veteran, teacher and writer as he answers these six questions.
With all the strife in Gaza and the Middle East, our community is keenly aware of the troubled times throughout our world. Whether sharing headlines (“Breaking News: Mideast out of control.”) or opinions (“If you can’t imagine war, GOOD!”), it helps to express feelings, thoughts, and emotions through writing and no form is easier than Six-Word Memoirs. Each memoir tells a story and each story leads to a moment of healing and catharsis. –Gilmarie Brioso
Most Opinionated: “If you can’t imagine war, GOOD!” –LetTheWolfin
Ed. Note – We encourage you to check out LetTheWolfin’s backstory and join the conversation in the comments below.
Best Imagery: “Peace rebuilds what wars tear down.” –pennyslife
Most Theoretical: “There’s really nothing left to invade.” –Believe
Best Reporting: “Breaking News: Mideast out of control.” –Staraj
Most Shocking: “Gaza’s Most Inhumane Feature: Exploding Donkeys.” –wescoll
Most Honest: “Maybe I’ll just avoid the news.” –catsmeow
Plus! Share with us your most creative summer drinks and dishes in just six words. SixContest #32 will stir for another week so give us your best summer recipe!