Top “Bad” Poems in Six Words

Good poetry can be fulfilling, but bad poetry can be utterly entertaining! For SixContest #58, in honor of National Bad Poetry Day, we asked for your best of the worst in just Six Words. There were cleverly terrible spins on old classics (“A talking raven? Seriously? Well, nevermore.” —MelB) and a bounty of beautifully awkward verses (“Poetry not my thing. Beer, maybe.” —jermball30), reminding us all why bad poetry is such fun (“Will miss daily Bad Poetry laughs.” —Kharis). With over 500 entries on our site and more submissions via social media, this contest is proof that being bad can be oh-so-good! —Abbie Martin Greenbaum

6. “You want a Bad poem? Here.” – NumbrOneAunt

5. “Divorce
Pocket change is what’s left” —@sethpetersonla (via Twitter)

4.  “I choose path of least resistance.”— phant 

3. “I Hunger
For You
Like Brunch” —@davidhitt (via Twitter)

2.  “It’s all, ya know, so deep.”  —  JoC.

And the baddest poem of all…

1. “Pregnancy poem: Peeing Is So Satisfying.” —jellyfishmum

And let’s not forget this Honorable Mention from Instagram — brought to life as a @sixwordselfie:

Congratulations, jellyfishmum, and thanks to everyone who joined in the fun! Whether in our SixContests, on FacebookInstagramTwitterTumblr or at sixwordmemoirs.com—keep on Sixing!

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Classroom of the Month: Reilley Thayer’s Creative Writing Class At Hargrave Military Academy

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Thayer’s Creative Writing Class, room 214

Browsing potential new lesson ideas online, Reilley Thayer discovered Six­-Word Memoirs and introduced the concept to her Creative Writing Class at Hargrave Military Academy, a private military boarding school in Chatham, Virginia. Thayer’s students, who ranged from seventh to tenth grade, participated as part of an intensive summer school program for middle school and high school credit.

Her students explored lengthy memoirs, as well as  Ernest Hemingway’s legendary six-word novel — “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” — which sparked a lot of debate. The students came up with an array of backstories, including a kidnapping, a murder, a couple who did not want children, or perhaps could not have children, and the loss of a child. Later, the class viewed YouTube videos of Six-Word Memoirs from other classrooms and reflected on which ones impressed them most. Thayer asked her to students look closely at the style and structure of longer-form memoirs. After much studying and extensive writing assignments, her students’ eyes widened when they were asked to imagine condensing all they had written in previous papers into just six words.

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Six in the City—How to Hold a Meet-up

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Since 2006, Six-Word Memoirs (sixwordmemoirs.com), a project of SMITH Magazine, has helped people tell moving and insightful stories in just six words. In June 2015, Six-Word Memoirs launched Six in the City, a program that brings Six-Word Memoirs to cities across the country as a tool for civic engagement. Columbus, Ohio, is our launch city.

An important part of Six in the City will be the meetups found in communities, neighborhoods and cultural pockets in your area. That’s where you come in. We want those who live and breathe Columbus life to gather the people in their local scenes and cultivate conversations about what this city means to them, boiling it down to six words. This sample package for how a gathering at a food/drink scene could go (be it at a restaurant to your own home) is merely a jumping-off point. Think of the people you know and the places you go that would enable a creative, passionate and conversational meet-up. Use this guide to help create the Six in the City: Columbus event that’s ideal for you and your group.

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Memoirist of the Month: August 2015—Leigh Giza

“I feel like I have come to know many of the wonderful writers who share their wonderful memoirs, even though I’ve never actually met any of them.”

Name: Leigh Giza
Place: Bristow, Virginia
SMITH Member Since: August 2010

Leigh Giza has built a vault of treasured memoirs. On August 8, L8leigh will celebrate her fifth anniversary with SMITH Magazine as she approaches 1,800 memoirs to date. She’s a tell-it-like-it-is memoirist (“Getting a haircut. Wanting a facelift.”) who doles out adages in six-word servings (“Respect line between restless and reckless.”) and loves to start conversations (“Have you ever met a celebrity?”). And for our upcoming book which will release November 3, The Best Advice in Six Words, Leigh made the final cut with this shrewd advice: “Try not to finish people’s sentences.” Join us in congratulating Leigh Giza on her anniversary and timely nod as our Memoirist of the Month for August 2015. Read about what makes her a belle of brevity as she answers our six questions:

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Top Dream Vacations in Six Words

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As the summer season hits its stride, everyone is thinking about that ultimate getaway. For SixContest #57, whether it’s going on an international adventure or finding solitude, we asked you to share your dream vacation in Six Words. We loved your desires to connect with family roots (“Learning my family history in Prague.” —Kraye) and wish we could join you on those trips to remote destinations (“Finding illumination in an Icelandic lighthouse.” —favepeep), as fictional as they may be (“A quick dash through Platform 9-3/4.” —ThisLittleBird). Wherever summer takes you, Six Words is glad to be along for the ride! —Abbie Martin Greenbaum

The Top Six Dream Vacations:  

6. “See Neil Armstrong’s footprint up close.” —MsKillie

5. “Staycation. At home. Without the children.” —Tanja C. (via Facebook)

4. “Beachside bungalow, island I can’t pronounce.” —@tcharles (via Twitter)

3. “Mother and daughter reunion. Cuba bound!” —kiwina

2. “Wherever Google Earth can’t find you.” —wescoll

And the Top Spot for your ultimate getaway…

1. “First class on someone else’s dime.” —@EllenMeister (via Twitter)

Honorable Mentions! Check out these photo entries from Instagram—because a picture can take you there: 

"Lose myself in a far paradise" by @char_vox (via Instagram)

“Lose myself in a far paradise” —@char_vox

Congratulations, , and thanks to everyone who joined in the fun! Whether in our SixContests, on FacebookInstagramTwitterTumblr or at sixwordmemoirs.com—keep on Sixing!

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Top Literary Sequels in Six Words

Go Set a Watchman finally debuted this week as the unexpected second book from Harper Lee, beloved author of the classic To Kill a Mockingbird. Since summer is the season of sequels, for SixContest #56 we asked you to take cherished books and create the next installment in just six words. You crafted second acts to classics and favorite childhood stories (“The Giving Tree Gets Her Groove Back.” —HeyMama), and used wordplay to draft books that don’t exist, but should (“More Deep Sixes, by Jack Handey.” —Anodyne-o-mite). Read through the contest comments for a plethora of fantastic teaser backstories. We hope the next book you read is as appealing as these sequels sound.
—Abbie Martin Greenbaum

The Top Six sequels we want to read:

6. “That River Doesn’t Run Here Anymore.” (A River Runs Through It)
RaisedByWolves [Backstory: A Native American Gambling Casino threatens a pristine Trout Stream in America.]

5. “We All Faked Our Own Deaths.” (The Virgin Suicides) —Lizasighs

4. “Wilbur And The Chronic Arachnophobia Nightmares” (Charlotte’s Web) —AnchorBoy

3. “Mediocre Expectations: Where Everyone’s a Winner.” (Great Expectations) —MelB

2. “The Phantom Tollbooth: Now Accepting EZPass.” (The Phantom Tollbooth) —@indybrendan (via Twitter)

And the most timely sequel is: 

1. “Confederate Flags – Gone with the Wind.” (Gone with the Wind)Audrey Jordan (via Facebook)

Congratulations, Audrey Jordan, and thanks to everyone who joined in the fun! Whether in our SixContests, on FacebookInstagramTwitterTumblr or at sixwordmemoirs.com—keep on Sixing!

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Classroom of the Month: Amy O’Meara’s 4th Grade Writing Class at Temple Terrace Elementary

Amy O’Meara brought Six-Word Memoirs to her classes at Temple Terrace Elementary in Florida after being introduced to the concept by Cathy Dyer, a nearby teacher whose high school students were a recently featured Classroom of the Month. As a writing coach to her students, O’Meara wanted them to focus on the importance of choosing the right words: “I can’t think of a better way to teach a child how powerful words can be when you can only use six of them.” The Six-Word form was a simple way to demonstrate how word choice can evoke a specific emotion or reaction from the reader, especially when writing memoirs.

O’Meara’s students also experimented with the form and structure of their Six-Word Memoirs. Students chose a noun that strongly described themselves and were then tasked to begin their memoirs with that noun. O’Meara also asked them to see if different punctuation impacted or changed their story. “After that,” O’Meara explained, “they just start writing, talking to each other, laughing and helping each other. It becomes engaging and interactive.” These young students crafted many thought-provoking memoirs, including:

“Six thousand miles away from normal.”

“Trying hard, doesn’t succeed, keeps going.”

“How will I make it now?”

O’Meara was especially impressed with the work done by her struggling students, who initially needed a little more help, but ultimately produced some of the most powerful Six-Word Memoirs. “Some of the most beautiful ones came from the students who struggled the most because it came from the heart,” O’Meara revealed.

The fourth graders developed an Animoto video (reposted below) of their Six-Word Memoirs, using technology as a way to engage and share their work with the world. Six-Word Memoirs has provided O’Meara’s students with an opportunity to put their personal experience to words, while giving her the chance to glimpse into their hearts and minds. This fall, O’Meara will relocate to Bahrain to teach at Riffa Views International School. She hopes to introduce Six-Word Memoirs to those students as well.


Teachers! Since we first launched the Six-Word Memoir project, educators across the spectrum have found Six Words to be a terrific classroom assignment and catalyst for self-expression. At our Six in Schools section we celebrate students’ work from classrooms around the world. Our Six Words for Schools workbook is the first in our suite of school-based teaching tools, and launched our Six Schools website, a place solely for teachers to share their classrooms’ work with other educators globally. Check it out! Let us know what your classroom is up to and we might feature your students’ work on our blog.

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Top Pride Memoirs In Six Words

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Tremendous strides have been made recently towards marriage equality for all. In honor of LGBT National Pride Month, for SixContest #55 we asked you to share expressions of pride in Six Words. Many memoirs lauded the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges ruling, while others shared their personal stories and the journeys of loved ones. As our nation celebrates Independence Day, what a great way to also celebrate progress towards equality! —Abbie Greenbaum

Our Top Six memoirs about Pride:

6. “Red. White. Blue: Finally a rainbow.” –takemeup15

5. “Facebook going viral cheering pride righteousness.” –toocooltobeme

4. “My sister is now my brother.” –McK_Merr
Backstory: “And I love him.

3. “Open house and two moms, unflinching.” –Redx3

2. “Tchaikovsky, Poulenc, Britten, Bernstein, Barber, Menotti.” –@BPOrchestra (via Twitter)

And the Six Words and powerful backstory that get to the essence of pride in 2015: 

1. “He’s still my pride and joy.” –ADHDean
Backstory: “When my son came out to me, my response was pretty much ‘And…?’ I’d known he was gay before he figured it out. Sonny has always been a curious, enthusiastic and kindhearted person, and nothing has changed. He’s still my kid, still my firstborn, still my heart. His mother has pushed him away. Other family members have distanced themselves from him, and the pastor he had his entire life told him that God may choose to kill his little sister as a result of his sin, like God took King David’s son by Bathsheba (yes, people actually say things like this). Through it all, Sonny has maintained a positive attitude and has remained true to himself. If there is anything I’m proud of as a father, it’s that I have somehow managed to teach my kids to be themselves, no matter what other people think or say about them. What took me decades to learn seems natural to them, and for that I’m grateful.”

Congratulations to ADHDean and thanks to everyone who joined in the fun! Whether in our SixContests, on FacebookInstagramTwitterTumblr or at sixwordmemoirs.com—keep on Sixing!

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Memoirist of the Month—July 2015: Guy Austin

Now I write regularly and have actually submitted short stories to publishers — nothing published, but receiving rejection letters actually makes me smile. It means I’m trying. I would never have done so without having been involved on this site.

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Name: Guy Austin

Place: Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

SMITH Member Since: March 2014

Guy Austin has an affinity for connecting the dots and connecting with others (“This blackboard never lacks chalk pieces”) so it’s no surprise he was immediately welcomed by our community. Barely a year later with more than 800 memoirs to date, G_Austin has become a central player in the Six Words sandbox. Guy’s contributions are well-loved and much appreciated, from his regular Teen Tuesday, Throwback Thursday, and Friday Favorites posts, to his own memoirs (“Tried raising the bar, too heavy”) and nods to others on the site (“Keeping a little room for sympathy”). Whatever the topic, his words reflect a caring man who can be humorous and self-deprecating (“Mirrors reflecting some old fat guy”), as well as courageous (“This is not a love song”). Join us in congratulating Guy Austin as our Memoirist of the Month for July 2015. Learn what makes Guy such a thoughtful memoirist as he answers our Six Questions:

How did you first hear about Six-Word Memoirs?
I used to love Three-Minute Fiction on NPR and when that went away, I somehow fell into SMITH Magazine and Six-Word Memoirs. I thought, “Six Words? I can put six words together.” It is harder than it sounds. I am still surprised anytime I get featured — I hope I never lose that feeling.

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Six in the City: Columbus at Columbus Arts Fest

Six in the City- 6logo-NSSummertime in Columbus means festivals, parades and celebrations. What better event than Columbus Arts Festival to kick off Six-Word Memoirs‘ most recent project, Six in the City: Columbus With a big thank you to our Columbus-based corporate sponsor, Express, people were invited to come up with their six words on Columbus, write it down, and jump in the photo booth to become a part of the big picture. As each individual photo was printed and posted to the “Express Yourself in Six Words” wall, a collective story about one city was told.


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