“At night, for the first time in years, I hear the ocean when the tide rises. It’s all I can do not to walk into that darkness to meet it.” -Kelle Groom, “Hans Hoffman’s House,” Brevity, May 2014
Brevitymag.com offers short creative nonfiction from new and established literary writers. “Literary” writing generally refers to character-driven stories, poetry, and creative nonfiction as opposed to that that’s plot-based. Some people like literary fiction, poetry, and nonfiction, and some do not. Many prefer what’s come to be known as “genre” fiction–your thrillers, mysteries, romances, and so forth. That’s not to say that a literary work can’t also be thrilling or include a love story, but that’s generally not the reason people gravitate toward the work. They gravitate to it because they really want to feel, and that’s the best way I can describe it.
Literary writing can be funny. It can be heavy. It’s usually layered with themes rather than morals or lessons. It’s humble in its beauty and truth.
Kelle Groom is, to me, a poet first and a memoir writer second, only because that’s the order in which I’ve read her work. Underwater City was the first book of hers that I read, and since then she’s written two more books of poetry (Luckily and Five Kingdoms) and the critically-renowned memoir I Wore the Ocean in the Shape of a Girl.
Then, there’s this gem from Brevity, “Hans Hoffman’s House.”
Why am I featuring this piece and this online journal on my art-across-genres blog?
Because it’s a great place to start, full of imagery. We’ve got imagery from all five senses here, from the view of the water to the feel of bare feet against what I imagine to be a hardwood floor as she counts the steps from wall to wall.
Art is about conveying all five senses. It’s about experiencing and feeling without, well, experiencing and feeling something physically. It’s about visceral feelings and the emotions conveyed by them. It’s about memory.
That’s what’s beautiful about this short piece. Not only does it convey emotion, but it does so in a poetic way, breaking conventional guidelines of grammar.
And for Em-dash Lady, in this case, that’s okay.
Please read this. It will take five minutes. It will make your day better.
*Groom and I were fellow graduate students at one time and once I waited with her at the top of an airport parking garage for AAA to arrive.