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“Despair is a funny, beautiful thing” — Six-Word Memoirs from the Amazing Kids at Writopia

wllogo.jpgAcross the world, students, teachers, churches, and nonprofits organizations with names like the Hypoparathyroidism Association (devoted to helping folks with a rare medical disorder) have used the six-word memoir to inspire, encourage, and even help heal. We love hearing how six-word memoirs find their way into lives and organizations.

We just heard from the New York-based Writopia Lab, a community of young writers, ages 9-19, who come together to develop short stories, journalistic pieces, personal essays, poetry, and dramatic and comedic scripts. In other words, these kids love storytelling in its many shapes and forms. Founder Rebecca Wallace-Segall recently sent over an incredible list of six-word memoirs from Writopia, many of which are featured on our new SMITH Teens site and will find their way into our forthcoming book of six-word memoirs by teens. “They loved developing these,” emailed Wallace-Segall. “Many have been featured on your site over the last weeks. It means so much to us and to them. Thank you especially for creating such a meaningful (and fun) literary event.”

From “”Cried hard on the indifferent bed” to “She’s blind, we love to talk” to “Grandma’s blue veins emboss her skin” the words from the Writopia kids are personal, insightful, and poignant—exemplifying all that’s possible when teens take the six-word memoir challenge. On October 14, Writopia’s six-word memoirists will be reading at the Barnes & Noble in the NYC’s West Village, and nine others will be reading excerpts from their short stories and memoirs. After the jump, read what emerged from the minds of 16 teens, six words at a time.

Louis Evans, 17
1. What do I admire? Minimalist writing.
2. Despair is a funny, beautiful thing.

Yael Wiesenfeld, 16
1. High school: “this too shall pass.”

Dan Ross, 14
1. I always lose my classmates’ pencils.
2. Read the thesaurus on the toilet.
3. I aspired to normalcy: outdid myself.

Pearl Mutnick, 14
1. I write songs I’ll never sing.
2. Summer Camp: Alone, with Sedaris anecdotes.
3. Crosswords: too many 50’s movie references.
4. Wishing I got more snail mail.
5. We’ll always have 84th and Columbus.

Noa Bendit-Shtull, 16
1. I edit my profile, or vice-versa?
2. Have everything. Feels like nothing sometimes.
3. He said she said who said?
4. Baked a pie. Didn’t eat any.
5. I-wonder-if-i-can-use-dashes-to-make “one” word. Break the rules.
6. Dissect, reflect, direct, defect, expect. Perfect.

Lily Gellman, 14
1. Doing schoolwork and wondering about tomorrow.
2. Thought I ought, so sought, wrought.

Nora Miller, 14
1. He left our conversations openly suspended.
2. We broke, came back, broke again.
3. Cried hard on the indifferent bed.
4. I ate my words in lullaby.

Rebecca Shubert, 15
1. My ring fits onto your finger.

Ena Selmanovic, 13
1.Once upon a time…never mind.
2. I’m too complex for six words.
3. I’m outside of those inside jokes.
4. Turned 13 and don’t feel different.
5. I’m too scared to be myself.
6. Acting older than your age: immature.
7. I’m always arguing with my mind.
8.California has my heart’s other half.
9. She’s blind, we love to talk.
10. They talk. I pretend to listen.

Rachel Sobelsohn, 13
1. Pencil on paper, draft after draft.

Kalmen Victor, 15
1. Oh, triumph – I licked chapped lips!

Visala Alagappan, 13
1. I always imagine clowns without makeup.
2. Public praise: I don’t think so.
3. Me: “it’s more complicated than that.”
4. Grandma’s blue veins emboss her skin.

Angelica Modabber, 14
1. Can’t help believing in fairy tales.
2. I always pause before I break.
3. I have become my own prey.
4. Not blind. I choose not seeing.
5. Life’s just a game I play.

Katie Hartman, 13
1. My friends come but never go.

Lena Beckenstein, 15
1. Why aren’t I hating high school?
2. Sorry, you had to be there.
3. Always all-county, never all-state.

Ena Selmanovic, 13
1. Loving Earth: not a fashion statement.
2. Peace: more than a fashion statement.
3. Shouldn’t hate making mistakes. I do.
4. Don’t hate making mistakes. I do.
5. Gigantic smile: so thankful for friends.
6. My smile: so thankful for friends.


  • Alexandra C., 16
    October 2, 2008

    1. High School-“This too shall pass.”
    2. “Oh, oh, the places you’ll go.”

  • Yael Wiesenfeld
    October 3, 2008

    I love your first one, Noa- “I edit my profile, or vice-versa?”

  • Kara
    November 13, 2008

    living life as my parents say

  • Sara
    February 18, 2009

    “Thinking of him helps me swim”

    Trying to make it to State Championship on thoughts of a guy that I deperately love. I made it to Districts, who says he can’t take me to state? <33

  • Rachel Spencer
    August 18, 2009

    ninety thousand dollars isn’t THAT much…

  • Rachel Spencer
    August 18, 2009

    picked flowers, felt band, planted more.

  • Rachel Spencer
    August 18, 2009

    thousand word essay…forgot my name…

  • Rachel Spencer
    August 18, 2009

    my alarm clock never went off…

  • Rachel Spencer
    August 18, 2009

    great eyes, nice smile, fat hips…

  • Ashley Perrine (ginger)
    August 25, 2011

    I never saw it coming….love

  • laura welch
    December 19, 2011

    lifes bright moments,.. gone to dull.

  • Lucy Yuan
    February 22, 2012

    My life in six words… impossible

  • Aria Brooks
    August 27, 2012

    Words unsaid, deeds undone, life unlived

    so you think you know me?

    seeing life from a different view

  • cedez
    December 6, 2012

    “just keep swimming”ellens life lesson

  • twambold
    April 1, 2013

    hashtag swag; hashtag yolo; hashtag swaggy

  • Hypocrite
    August 14, 2013

    Plz dnt abbrev. thats just lazy

  • Hypocrite
    August 14, 2013

    plz dnt abbrev. dats just lazy

  • comparateur pneu
    May 30, 2016

    It is an intelligent personal training business strategy to use your fitness trainer certification as a unique selling proposition to help attract more business.

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