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December 5, 2013


I’m so pleased to have Robin Hemley back with us again for our Roundtable Discussion! I admire Robin’s work, and have read several of his books. In fact they are dog-eared and underlined, and I refer to them often. Turning Your Life Into Fiction is friendly readable compilation of stories, tips, and guidance for the memoir writer and for the writer who wants to adapt personal stories into fiction. His memoir Nola is poetic, inspiring, and tragic, an example of how a memoirist can create a unique, emotionally honest, and relatable memoir. You must read it.

A Field Guide for Immersion Writing is his most recent book, and during our discussion, we are going to journey with him into the world of memoir, journalism, and travel as we examine the different angles we can use to tease out our stories. Immersion writing is a way to be in the world as a participant-observer, and delight in the experience and flow of a place, people, and culture while keeping an eye toward what will make a good story. We are the writer and the observer all at once.

We will discuss several kinds of immersion writing:

  • Immersion journalism
  • Immersion memoir
  • Travel writing

These can be looked at through the lens of

  • Quest
  • Experiment
  • Investigation
  • Reenactment
  • Infiltration

Please join us for an interesting and exciting tour of a kind of nonfiction writing that may be new to you. Thinking about writing stories through the lens of immersion memoir can open you to new ways to view the world and write about it.

Robin Hemley directs the Writing Program at Yale-NUS College in Singapore and is the author of eleven books of nonfiction and fiction and the winner of many awards including a 2008 Guggenheim Fellowship, The Nelson Algren Award for Fiction from The Chicago Tribune, The Story Magazine Humor Prize, as well as three Pushcart Prizes in both fiction and nonfiction.  His popular craft book, Turning Life into Fiction, has sold over 80,000 copies and is now in its fourth printing with Graywolf Press. His fiction, nonfiction, and poetry have been published in the U.S., Great Britain, Germany, Japan, Australia, the Philippines, Hong Kong, and elsewhere and he frequently teaches creative writing workshops around the world. 

His memoir, NOLA: A Memoir of Faith, Art, and Madness was reissued by The University of Iowa Press in 2013.  He is the founder and organizer of NonfictioNow a biennial conference that will convene next at Northern Arizona University in October of 2015. 


December Roundtable with Robin Hemley

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