Language, Memory, and Story: Writing across the Genres

We carry deep in our bones the impulse to fit language to the world. Song and story were our first arts, and to watch children delight in the sounds their own mouths might make or see a roomful of kids suddenly still and sit rapt as they listen to a story is to understand that inherent, immense power. Yet song and story differ, too. Though both are made of language, the way the singer or tale-teller wields the words makes all the difference. In this hybrid lecture/reading, Joe Wilkins (associate professor of English at Linfield College) traces his own impulses and considerations as a cross-genre writer in fitting language—whether poem, essay, or story—to the world.