Poetry and Memoir: Making It Personal

Guild Hall has put together a reading and talk called “The Art of the Personal” on Sept. 16 at 3 p.m.
Jill Bialosky and Philip Schultz Catherine Sebastian and Monica Banks Photos

Memoir may be all the rage, and salable, while poetry is seeing a minor resurgence in popularity thanks to new outlets in social media, but is anything connecting the two? 

To explore the topic, Guild Hall has put together a reading and talk called “The Art of the Personal” on Sept. 16 at 3 p.m., with three writers of significance in both genres, and of significance on the South Fork, for that matter: Philip Schultz, Jill Bialosky, and Grace Schulman. 

Two of the poets have come out with memoirs in the recent past — Mr. Schultz with “My Dyslexia,” Ms. Bialosky more than once, the latest being “Poetry Will Save Your Life” — and Ms. Schulman did so just last month, with “Strange Paradise: Portrait of a Marriage.”

And so the question becomes, in the words of whoever handled the public relations duty on the Guild Hall website in this case, if not Ms. Bialosky herself (she’s an executive editor at W.W. Norton, after all): “What happens to memory when the imagination comes into play? It’s expected, desired, in poetry, of course, but doesn’t memoir deal with autobiographical fact, what actually happened? And why would poets want or need to write memoirs?”

Hinted at right there are collections of poems the participants have written that do indeed tackle the stuff of memoir: Mr. Schultz’s “Failure,” for one, which won him a Pulitzer Prize and which considers the hamstrung life of his father, or Ms. Bialosky’s “The Players,” which, to borrow the words of Ms. Schulman’s subheading, could be called the portrait of a family — or of motherhood.

“What are they after and how does it affect their poetry?” wonders the website. And that’s where the post-reading chat comes in. Why not pop in and find out?

This one’s free, but reservations, which can be made with a click at guildhall.org/events, are a must.

Grace Schulman