Menu Sian Prior

Writer, Broadcaster, Singer, MC & Teacher

Mildura Writers Festival [July 24]

Last week I spent an inspiring three days listening to writers talk about their craft at the Mildura Writers Festival. One of the most illuminating was American poet Jane Hirshfield, the founder of Poets for Science. She gave a lecture in which she quoted Jack Gilbert’s poem ‘Poetry is kind of Lying’.

I have taken the liberty of re-working this piece for memoirists.


Memoir is a kind of lying

(with apologies to Jack Gilbert, via Jane Hirshfield)


Memoir is a kind of lying,

necessarily. To purge the heart

of grief. But also in

that stories hold only the present’s truth.


Those of us who, repeatedly, comb

the refuse (bones, scabs,

corks, spittle) are driven

to say too much.


Jane said (as Gilbert said that Degas said –

but did he?) – we need only pay attention

to enable us to see

the things we have to say.


(This piece was first published on the Mildura Writers Festival blog, July 2018)