Is it memoir or essay? … the final word

Poets & Writers, has an online article of great value: An interview with Philip Lopate, back in 2008. I’m posting just the tiniest excerpt here, so you’ll be motivated to click the link now. This resonates with me because after asking me how to self-publish a book, the question most people ask me is about the difference between memoir and essay.

Here’s the answer from the esteemed Philip Lopate in an interview with writer Lanai Knight. Make tea, read it, print it, take a dizzying walk around the block, and read it again. It’s that good.

P&W: What is the difference between personal essay and memoir?

Lopate: The memoir requires other people. The personal essay can avail itself of other people, but it can also be a reflection on a subject where other people are not necessarily that important.

Read the full 2008 interview here.


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