Classroom of the Month: John Ferry’s “Image and Form” class at Kansas City Art Institute

"Fat man eats pie then farts"—Six-Words in Hospitals

I talk a lot about how the concept of Six-Word Memoirs takes on a life bigger than Hemingway or SMITH Magazine could have imagined. From classrooms to funerals, sports sites to spinning classes, theater groups and churches across the land, six-word memoirs have served as a powerful form of personal expression. Anyone can write one. It’s just six words. All you need to do is ask.

In the last week, two emails arrived from people who asked. Both work in hospitals.

Jolene, a nurse in Oakland, CA, tells this story about a patient with Leukemia:

So I was taking care of this 21 yr old guy who has had Leukemia since he’s been 8 yrs old. he’s pretty debilitated, is wasting away right now—a very sad case. I brought in your book and asked him to come up w/ his own 6word memoir. He thought about it for about 2 minutes (mind you before that i could barely get him to engage w/ me, he was extremely depressed as you can imagine). He then just blurted out: “fat man eats pie then farts.” It’s a metaphor for life you see, we indulge ourselves then we die.

A woman named Abby tells us about six-word memoirs from her teens at a psychiatric hospital in Forest Park, IL:


I am a teacher at a Psychiatric Hospital. I recently discovered 6 Word Memoirs and my team and I presented them to our adolescent (ages 12-18) and young adult (ages 18-24) Inpatient classes. Not only did the students dive in, but so did the staff. Intriguing and heartbreaking stories came flying from the minds of even the most acute patients. One 14 year old girl wrote, “I miss my baby while hospitalized.” A staff member contributed, “Daddy’s in jail, a young girl cries.” We could barely write them down fast enough!

We really appreciate hearing these stories—thanks to Jolene and Abby and everyone who have found some form of power in six.


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