New SixContest: We’re swimming in Sixes! Use “swim” in a Six-Word Memoir

Six Words in Park Slope

Within the course of a few short weeks, we went from holding the soggiest six-word reading/slam to the sweatiest. Yet in many ways, Monday, June 9 at the Barnes & Noble in Park Slope, Brooklyn this was the sweetest. At each reading, we always tell some “stories behind the stories,” mixing up tales from the making of Not Quite What I Was Planning, amazing things about their lives many of the 850 contributors have shared with us, and then stories from six-word memoirists who are in the house. At this reading, we had such a stellar line-up of contributors that Rachel and I did less talking than ever, which in my mind led to one of the most amazing, inspired evenings in this whole six-word journey.

Carlos “Mare 139″Rodriguez talked with passion, sincerity, and candor about why his memoir (“Wasn’t noticed so I painted trains”) encapsulates his feeling that creativity was his way of dealing with “the shame of poverty” growing up in New York in the ’70s. He’s the guy on the video below; I hope you take two minutes and click (sorry it’s sideways). Jason Bitner, cofounder of FOUND magazine, unpacked items from his backpack, slowly unfurling the story of his professional life from FOUND to Dirty Found to his newest open-source, personal storytelling project, Cassette From My Ex. Then he revealed his own short, short life story: “Other people’s trash: show and teller.”

With her son and husband looking on, Nell Casey offered a few more intimate, honest words on how she landed upon “Haunting dad, spotlight mom, retrieving marriage” for her six-word memoir. “Gave commencement address, became sex columnist”—could only be the life trajectory of Amy Sohn. Abby Ellin unloaded a lifetime of issues in just six words that reveal a woman who is, “Jew-born. Yeshiva-educated. Date goyim” (contact her here if you’re not Jewish and want a date). Then Mary Elizabeth Williams offered the goy response: “Catholic girl. Jersey. It’s all true.” “it’s mine because the first three words are about me,” she said. “But the last three are about you, and how you interpret them. I know what they mean to me.”

Finally, a six-word slam broke out. There were many gems, but writer Lori Leibovich spoke volumes about her life and zip code in just a few well-chosen words: “Husband. Kids. Park Slope. You know.” Thanks to everyone who came out.

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