Using Your Poetry Skills to Write Memoir

with Freesia McKee

memoir for poets

October 13, 2022
Single-Day Webinar


Many poets want to write memoir, but don’t know where to start. Luckily, as a poet, you already have skills you can apply in memoir: imagery, emphasis on sensory input, patterning, juxtaposition, and more. You can use these skills as a launchpad to enter new genres.

In this workshop, we’ll begin in our comfort zone, poetry, and examine how characteristics of memoir may already be showing up in our poems. Then, we’ll leapfrog into prose poetry and flash memoir to practice working in prose. We’ll read, observe, and discuss examples and spend plenty of time writing. At the end of the workshop, you’ll be encouraged to brainstorm the beginnings of a longer prose piece you could continue to work on independently if you choose.

Memoir is for everyone. You don’t need to have survived or accomplished something momentous; every person’s life contains the extraordinary, and it’s all worth writing about. Our hybrid approach will build upon what you already know as a writer, cheering you on as you embark upon something new.

Learning and Writing Goals

By the end of this workshop, you will have learned how to:

  • Employ their existing writing strengths in the (flash) memoir genre
  • Emulate the creative approaches of contemporary flash memoirists
  • Use new methods for constructing/organizing memoir ideas
  • Build confidence in their creative prose writing abilities by recognizing how to use their poetry-writing strengths in prose

You will have started/drafted three pieces of new writing: an autobiographical lineated poem, an autobiographical prose poem, and a flash memoir. We’ll also do a brief exercise focused on brainstorming for longer projects.

Zoom Schedule

This workshop will meet from 7 P.M. – 9:30 P.M. U.S. Eastern Time.

Hour 1:

15 mins: very quick intros and introduction to topic/approach
15 mins: presentation/discussion of autobiographical lineated poem models
15 mins: autobiographical lineated poem writing session with optional sharing
15 mins: presentation/discussion of prose poem models

Hour 2:

15 mins: prose poem writing session with optional sharing
5 min Zoom break
15 mins: presentation/discussion of flash memoir
15 mins: flash memoir writing session with optional sharing
10 mins: brainstorm activity for longer prose pieces

Final Half Hour:

30 mins: Q&A

Course type:

Student Feedback for Freesia McKee:

October 13, 2022
Single-Day Webinar


freesia mckee headshot


Freesia McKee (she/her) writes poetry, hybrid-genre work, lyric essays, memoir, flash fiction, book reviews, and literary criticism that connect personal history and place. She is headed to University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in Fall of 2023 to serve as an Assistant Professor of English, specializing in poetry. In Fall of 2022, she served as the Fall Poet in Residence at Ripon College. She is a white settler who currently lives in western Illinois on the ancestral homelands of the Inoca nations, and she grew up in Milwaukee.

Freesia’s written work engages with radical compassion, care, community, and ecology. Freesia is currently writing a memoir-in-essays that takes place in South Florida. The book of poetry she drafted while Poet in Residence in Ripon last fall considers multiple Midwests, queerness in rural spaces, and interspecies kinship.

Freesia’s words have appeared in PlumeFugueCleaver Magazine, About Place Journal, The Ploughshares BlogSo to SpeakGertrudeBone BouquetCALYXNimrodPainted Bride QuarterlyHuffington Post, New Verse NewsLavender Review, Pleiades Book Review, and many other venues. Freesia won the 2018 Patricia Goedicke Prize in Poetry from Cutbank. In 2020, Freesia won a Christopher F. Kelly Award for Poetry through the Academy of American Poets. Headmistress Press published Freesia’s chapbook How Distant the City.

Freesia earned an MFA in poetry from Florida International University and a BA in Gender & Women’s Studies from Warren Wilson College.