Memoir Path Workshop with Susan Jaret-McKinstry

June 6, 2016

On April 5th, twelve brave walkers (ranging from 20-somethings to 90-somethings) met in the Weitz for a Walking Path Memoir workshop. We considered memoir as place, reflection, process – then leapt to our feet and walked around the room with partners and alone to experience the physical act (navigating space and pace directly, colliding with chairs and one another). We paused to read quotes about walking. We imagined seeing ourselves walking, and seeing beyond what we could see. We imagined walking through a childhood home. We listened in silence (the building rewarded us with increasingly inexplicable sounds). We left laughing and thoughtful, with a list of prompts and encouragement to walk, think, remember, write. One person said later that he had walked for the first time without earbuds and found “the world is really noisy. I loved it.”

The Memoir Path Map in Weitz atrium evolved slowly. Anyone could contribute: take a walk, write about it, and post the path in bright-colored embroidery thread on the map along with the memoir. Over the term, 23 paths appeared, overlapping in space, wildly diverse in voice and form.

A haiku about Frisbees and eagles, a multi-part “instruction” series through Northfield by a new resident, a narrative about a shared walk, a poem about departures and arrivals, a nostalgic depiction of a countless daily path that ends with graduation, a story by a group of young friends, and a brother-sister piece about her first bike ride around the park, written on an index card by her older brother and posted (he had trouble spelling “squirrel," posted his own memoir alongside hers, and concluded “The End”).

Keep walking, keep writing.