Students Use Six-Word Memoirs to Interpret First Amendment

"Bears Are My Number One Fear," wrote an eight-year-old boy. His words displayed on the screen for his six-word memoir, a short description to provide readers a unique insight into his life. His was the favorite of the speaker Larry Smith, who came to SMC's Art Building room 214 this Thursday, May 3 to teach attendees his idea of six word memoirs for First Amendment Month.

Relaxing music carried through the room and six-word memoirs played off a projector on the board, all written by other students across the country.

Larry Smith, publisher of Smith magazine and developer of the best-selling book series Six Word Memoirs, introduced himself by saying how he “counts to six regularly.” The description of a six-word memoir is, in his words, “A community of storytellers responding to political stories.”

The lecture explained how six words can describe who you are, what you believe in, or anything in your life. What inspired Larry to create the six-word memoir was a short story often incorrectly attributed to Ernest Hemingway, “For Sale: Baby Shoes, never worn.”

Smith explained that the six-word memoir can help with things in life such as public speaking. “When people have a blank page, that scares them," Smith said. "But when there are blanks to fill, imaginations start to create deep meaning.” He cites that as the reason why he believes the six-word memoir is so powerful and therapeutic.

Larry had students initially write a six-word memoir about their life, but then later had students write another about the First Amendment. Akair Htet, sophomore at SMC, wrote “March for Love, Not For Hate.” about the First Amendment. She attended the event because she is currently enrolled in a media class at SMC that offered this for journalism students and wanted to learn more about First Amendment Month.

Another journalism SMC student, Tokuko Yamana, wrote, “Say What You Want, Be Brave.” and attended the event because she is passionate about freedom of speech. The lecture, which was the second event planned to commemorate First Amendment Month, ended with many students reflecting on their renewed perspectives on their lives and what the first amendment meant to them.

Larry Smith of The Six-Word Memoir Project spoke at Santa Monica College on May 3, 2018 as part of SMC's inaugural First Amendment month.