in which my nieces (and Serena) take their turn at responsive writing, at Hooray of Books

Sunday, July 28, 2013

One of the very great privileges of spending yesterday in Alexandria, VA, at Hooray for Books, in the company of Debbie Levy, family, and friends, was the time we took to write together. Debbie encouraged us to write in the tradition of her mother's poesiealbum—the book of brief holocaust-era letters, urgings, and clippings that inspired her book, The Year of Goodbyes. She asked us, specifically, to think about this:

What about you are you sure your friends or classmates will remember 70 years from now? What do you hope they forget? (We adults were urged to think about what we hope long-lost friends who encounter us now will remember—and forget.)

Since we had been talking about the thin line between fiction and truth, I urged our readers/writers to take something from their pocket and write its autobiography. We heard from paperclips, car keys, phones, and a dollar bill, among other laughter-inducing things.

Here, below, are two responses. The first is by my niece, Julia, who is entering her second year at the Corcoran College of Art and Design; she is a talented photographer. The second is from Claire, whose 13th birthday I helped celebrate earlier this year. She's a big reader, a fabulous student, and all-round athlete.

The Remember? Forget? Exercise/Julia Emma Kephart Roberts

I go to a small small school in the basement of a museum, where you can usually find me in the first cubby of one of the largest darkrooms you've ever seen. There are about 300 students total - smaller than my graduating high school class. I know them all by name and face. I follow them on instagram and tumblr and flickr and every other website imaginable. But older folks be forewarned this means nothing in the actual relationship I have with these people. It also means nothing in regards to what I know about them or what they know about me. What stands out to one person about myself could be completely overlooked or misread by another. Because if you think about it, none of us really know what is remembered or forgotten or even if any of it is true or false, just what we remember about ourselves.
Autobiography of a SmartPhone/Claire Kephart Roberts
There’s a sad but almost happy loneliness the comes with being placed in someone's back pocket and sat on about a hundred times each day. You don’t get to choose what you wear, how you act, or most of all who you are. Everything about you is decided by someone of a higher standard. Although I am smarter then most significants around me I have no choice but to sit quietly and do what I am told. But the idea that my quietness has changed the life of anyone who finds me and my friends is almost remarkable. Significants put their life in us, what we hold is more then a game and social websites, everything typed and every scratch we acquire puts a new, maybe scary thought in our significant's head. Every little thing we do slowly eventually will blur our significant's lines until unreadable and they have no choice but to totally completely rely on us until we ourselves rule them.

And then there's this amazing narrative about our day together, written by Serena Agusto-Cox, who dressed her super-well-behaved little girl in bright pink and shared her with us. Serena has a response to the writing prompt in this post—a beautiful poem. I encourage you to click this link, and read it for yourself.


Serena said...

These are great pieces from your nieces. Future writers there, I think. Thanks for sharing my link. I may share the other piece at some point.

Janice Kephart said...

Thank you for posting the girls' pieces. Means alot when Aunt Beth gives two thumbs up, or better yet, a blog posting!

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