Editors’ Blog

May’s Memoirist of the Month: Kathi Wright

Monday, May 6th, 2013

By Shauna Greene

“In kindergarten, I used to fill the top edges of my drawings with random letters, pretending I was writing a great story. Later, I preferred writing letters as a means of correspondence to that of a simple phone call.”

Name: Kathi Wright
Place: Near Sequoia National Park, Calif.
SMITH member since: March, 2008

A fling that began five years ago continues today. Although she does not recall precisely how she stumbled upon SMITH, Kathi Wright was hooked from the moment she found us. Since joining SMITH in 2008, Kathi has been flirtatious with her submissions (nearly 300). This sporadic, yet consistent collection captures her gratitude for motherhood, humble introspection, and independent spirit.

By day, Kathi is a secretary at an alternative continuation high school in California. Rooted “on the juniper fringes of the Sequoia National Forest,” she is full of love, full of hope, and sometimes, full of howls—a theme that echoes in many of her stories.

She is a proud mother (“Full moon rising, birthed a star”), overflowing with love for her daughter and, more recently, her grandson (“The Man Cub” in the My Life So Far project). Although her path has been peppered with chaos, and a love of her own has proven more elusive, Kathi has maintained her passion and humor. Her story “August Train,” offers a window into a bohemian lust for adventure that is undeniable. Learn more about May’s Memoirist of the Month as Kathi Wright answers six questions about her life and writing. We’re delighted to send Kathi the Six-Word Memoir T-shirt of her choice, courtesy of our partners at Spreadshirt.

When did you start writing, and what have been turning points in your creative life?
There isn’t a time I can point to and say that is when I started writing. It is a long-standing pleasure of mine. I have always been a great observer and listener, and I think a natural progression has been to write and capture what our senses trace. In kindergarten, I used to fill the top edges of my drawings with random letters, pretending I was writing a great story. Later, I preferred writing letters as a means of correspondence to that of a simple phone call. I have a gypsy streak, and find adventure in a road trip, open roads have drawn me to places where I’ve found beauty and depth that I then settled into. This gypsy wrote reams of letters home to family and friends.

I worked for Cesar Chavez for nearly three years as a legal assistant; spent one cold and dirty spring working in potato cellars in Idaho, worked in a library, and as a cocktail waitress; have counted spruce bud-worms for the USFS, written for a small-town newspaper, and worked as a Special Education Aide in a juvenile probation camp whose wards were violent gang-affiliated offenders.

Those experiences, and others, blended into a wild and sometimes raw stew of memories and stories, events that shaped my life, creative and otherwise. The birth of my daughter was truly a turning point in my life; the need became great to write about her, to put pen to paper, to regularly remember and record life events. She was verbal at a young age, and so filled me with wonder and awe. I don’t think I had ever laughed with such abandon or loved so unconditionally until I gave birth. It was the two of us, alone together, tangled up in diapers and love.

My life has been humble, but full of grace. I have found the greatest pleasures in the smallest, albeit wondrous, moments of my life.

Can you share a favorite Six-Word Memoir, Moment or other story of yours and tell us why it’s meaningful to you?
Of all of my SMITH stories, I would have to choose “August Train,” [from the "My Life So Far" project] because of the magical quality of the random and unexpected events that came together to make one unforgettable, dream-like 24-hour period of time.

What authors inspire you or do you admire?
I am an avid reader and enjoy many authors. Barbara Kingsolver, Anne Lamott (especially Operating Instructions), Connie May Fowler (everything), Ayelet Waldman, (The Bad Mother was so brutally honest and I so admire her), Diane Ackerman (have you read A Natural History of the Senses?), Daniel Woodrell, James Lee Burke (he captures all of the human senses in his writing and he will answer you if you happen to write to him), Louise Erdrich, Craig Allen Johnson, and many others.

Is there someone’s writing on SMITH that’s especially moved you?
The first memoir I favorited on SMITH was by a member named Emily Pandise, who wrote, “There was more laughter than tears.” I related to that after traveling a somewhat convoluted and oft-rocky path through my life. Through it all, what is important to me is the laughter and joy and friendships made along the way.

I connect with stories about triumph over adversity, for the most part, but not solely. Javagirl’s recent story, Day One, about her son’s childhood diagnosis of autism, ending with his pending college graduation, brought me to my knees.

There are many other wordsmiths on the site, from then to now, whose words have sent me into fits of laughter or brought tears to my eyes or caused me to ponder the mysteries of life. We share so much through such diverse lives—somewhat like being on the same page in different books. Our submitted stories and memoirs prove we are filled with grit and gumption and undeniable heart. So many of your words strike a chord within me, and I thank you for baring your souls, and toes, your fishnets and hats, losses and triumphs, full moons, and sunsets.

When you’re not writing, what do you enjoy doing?
Seeking out wild places, learning to fly fish, reading, photography, crafting, Zumba, yoga.

Finally, Kathi Wright, what’s your Six-Word Memoir for today?
This life; a beautiful, winding road.

55 responses

  1. Lovely Lizard says:

    Kathi - Congrats on being named Memoirist of the Month - a well deserved and wonderful honor. I enjoyed learning more about you from your interview. Keep up the good work, I enjoy your writing and look forward to reading more of your work.

  2. Redx3 says:

    Always nice to learn more about the people who’s writing you admire. Kathi, a very great pleasure!

  3. Jl333 says:

    This is such a pleasure to read more about you. I found your résumé to be extremely interesting, and wished that you had elaborated more about your interesting job history. Nonetheless, this was fantastic on all levels.

  4. marymc says:

    Very nice, Kathi. So nice to meet you!

  5. Dragonflower says:

    I am so happy to meet you through this interview! Especially e enjoyed the part about pretending to write stories in kindergarten. A woman after my own heart!

  6. canadafreeze says:

    So nice to meet you, Kathi. I so enjoy your memoirs - they often speak directly to me. I related especially to your revelation about letter writing. Me, too:-) Congratulations and Happy May.

  7. JAD says:

    Congrats! on Memorist of the month. Learning more about you is a pleasure.

  8. Coleen says:

    Such a pleasure to learn about you as May’s Memoirist. I am a fan of your memoirs - and secretly thought you must be a most colorful woman. Glad to hear you have a streak of gypsy too! Keep writing!

  9. bevvie says:

    You did good!

  10. catsmeow says:

    My toes? My toes? Love your writing, kathi, and love knowing you are a fellow gypsy.

  11. L2l3 says:

    Nice to meet you and learn more about you. You’re one of those quality over quantity writers and I continue to be a fan

  12. Caitlin says:

    No, no, no…
    “By day you are Queen Mum”
    That’s my six-word ode to May’s Memoirist of the Month.

  13. kathi wright says:

    Thank you everyone for all of your kindest of words! You are all so inspiring and wise and I love reading your sixes/stories. (and love you, honeychild - you surprised me!)

  14. lillybrook says:

    Kathi - wonderful to learn more about you in this feature. I enjoy your memoirs very much.

  15. KharisJo says:

    always notice your memoirs K, they are first rate. Congrats on feature and interesting to learn a little more about you.

  16. kathi wright says:

    you all have made my day. (and fyi, honeychild is my my daughter who surprised me with a comment!) sincere thanks to all of the talent!

  17. Banjodan says:

    Kathi, congrats on the well deserved feature. I went to your profile to read your stories and memoirs and am really enjoying them.

  18. ba_Miracle says:

    Always enjoy your sixes and this one was cute too…

    “tangled up in diapers and love. “

  19. favepeep says:

    Hi Kathi, I took a look back at some of your sixes “before my time” on Smith and this one caught my eye–”let’s get liquored up and howl.” I’m in! And we’re birds of a feather according to this memoir, “McGovern received my first vote, 1972.” Your answers to the questions in this interviews are thoughtful and like a beautifully written essay. p.s. Yes, I have read “History of the Senses!”‘Tis a good one.

  20. DynamicDbytheC says:

    Lovely to know the witty woman behind the memoirs.

  21. kathi wright says:

    thank you DDC - just saw your comment!

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    You deserve a pound of bacon

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