S211. Writing the Pain: Memoirists on Tackling Stories of Trauma

Ballroom A, Tampa Convention Center, First Floor
Saturday, March 10, 2018
1:30 pm to 2:45 pm


Writing about traumatic experiences does not repair them. However, re-entering those memories, taking them apart, and then putting them back together again on our own terms, can transform them into something meaningful, perhaps even beautiful, for both writer and reader. On this panel, those who’ve courageously written about topics such as loss, illness, grief, or family dysfunction in poetry and prose explore the merit of giving narrative shape to our painful stories.



Melanie Brooks is the author of Writing Hard Stories: Celebrated Memoirists Who Shaped Art from Trauma. A graduate of the Stonecoast MFA program, she teaches at Northeastern University and Merrimack College. She is completing a memoir about living with the ten-year secret of her father's HIV disease.

Richard Blanco is the youngest, first Latino, and first openly gay person to serve as the Presidential Inaugural Poet. Author of two memoirs and three poetry books, his honors include awards from the University of Pittsburgh, PEN, the Paterson Prize, Lambda Literary, and Education Ambassador for the Academy of American Poets.

Andre Dubus III is the author of six books, including The New York Times–bestseller House of Sand and Fog. This novel was also a finalist for the National Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and it was an Oprah Book Club Selection. His memoir, Townie, and novel, Dirty Love, were both New York Times bestsellers and New York Times Editors’ Choices. Dirty Love was also listed as Notable Fiction from The Washington Post and a Kirkus Starred Best Book. Dubus has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, the National Magazine Award for Fiction, two Pushcart Prizes, and an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature. His books are published in over twenty-five languages.

Kyoko Mori is the author of three nonfiction books (The Dream of Water; Polite Lies; Yarn) and four novels (Shizuko's Daughter; One Bird; Stone Field, True Arrow; Barn Cat). She teaches creative writing at George Mason University and for the low-residency MFA program at Lesley University.

Suzanne Strempek Shea's dozen books include This Is Paradise, about a medical clinic in Malawi. She teaches at the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast MFA program and is writer in residence/director of the creative writing program at Bay Path University in Longmeadow, Massachusetts.


March 4–7, 2020
San Antonio, TX

Henry B. González Convention Center