S230. Lightening Up the Dark: The Role of Humor in Memoir

Willow Room, Sheraton Seattle, 2nd Floor
Saturday, March 1, 2014
3:00 pm to 4:15 pm


Too often we see our lives as simply funny or sad and write in that single mode, limiting the emotional complexity of our narratives. Humor is a powerful tool for changing that—and no need to be Jon Stewart to use it effectively. Our panel of five explores how humor works for them as writers and teachers of memoir and essay. We address how humor deepens perspective, how it seduces readers to our side, and how, by marrying dark material with humor, we create a powerful tension between the two.



Mimi Schwartz's books include Good Neighbors, Bad Times, Echoes of My Father's German Village; Thoughts from a Queen-Sized Bed; and Writing True, the Art and Craft of Creative Nonfiction (with Sondra Perl). She is Professor Emerita of Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.

Joe Mackall is the author of Plain Secrets: An Outsider Among the Amish and of the memoir The Last Street Before Cleveland. He is the co-founder and -editor of River Teeth: A Journal of Nonfiction Narrative. He also directs the creative writing program at Ashland University in Ohio.

Phillip Lopate has written over twenty books, most recently, the essay collections Portrait Inside My Head and To Show and to Tell: the Craft of Literary Nonfiction. He has also edited the anthology Art of the Personal Essay and directs the MFA nonfiction program at Columbia University.

Suzanne Greenberg is the author of Speed-Walk and Other Stories and the forthcoming novel, Lesson Plans. She’s also the co-author of Everyday Creative Writing and the Abigail Iris children’s novels. She teaches creative writing at CSU, Long Beach, where she’s a professor of English.

Dan Stolar is the author of the short story collection The Middle of the Night. His fiction and creative nonfiction have appeared in a number of publications. He teaches Creative Writing at DePaul University in Chicago.


March 8–11, 2023
Seattle, Washington

Washington State Convention Center