Sarah Wells on Bearing Witness in Memoir

January 9, 2014 § 2 Comments

SarahWells_An excellent interview with poet and essayist Sarah Wells, Managing Editor for River Teeth: A Journal of Nonfiction Narrative, touching on her essay work, including Field Guide to Resisting Temptation from Brevity 43.  Here is an excerpt, followed by the full link:

I prefer “bearing witness” over “brave” because revealing hard subject-matter in writing doesn’t seem brave to me. The definition of brave is “ready to face and endure danger or pain,” and in one instance, “without showing fear.” Maybe there are some stories that are both stories of bravery or stories told bravely, but in the specific instance of “Field Guide…,” I don’t think I was either brave in the season or brave in the telling.  I felt weak in the season and scared to death in the telling. And yet I still felt I had to tell it.  There are some stories that need to be told.  This happened.  I am bearing witness to it.

Read the full interview here on Motherhood & Words.

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§ 2 Responses to Sarah Wells on Bearing Witness in Memoir

  • Kate Hopper says:

    Thanks for sharing, Dinty!

  • rachaelhanel says:

    Yes! An excellent way of putting it. I feel uncomfortable when people tell me I was “brave” or “courageous” in revealing private moments and private feelings in my memoir. But I do feel I was simply honest. Like Sarah, I felt the story had to get out and it was going to come out through me; I didn’t really have a choice.

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