Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Memoir Club for Readers and Writers

Next Memoir Club Meeting: Tuesday, 30 July 2013
at the Randwick Literary Institute

joanne burns in conversation

with Barbara Brooks

Renowned as an experimental poet and writer whose "seemingly contradictory hybrid of yarn and the vision" is "time and again made manifest through a rather laconic, sceptical and straight-talking voice", joanne burns joins the Memoir Club this month to discuss how memoir and autobiographical moments sometimes influence and infiltrate her writing.

Her "distinctive stance towards the world" has been described as "humourous, unsentimental, never pompous or prophetic, immersed in fleeting experiences..." and her poems are said to illustrate "the idea of poems being built out of the detritus of existence".

Can poems be considered a form of memoir? And, as Robert Frost claimed, can they "make you remember what you didn't know you knew"?

joanne burns writes poetry (including prose poems), monologues, and short futurist fictions or farables. Since 1972 many collections of her work have been published, the most recent being 'footnotes of a hammock' (Five Islands Press, 2004), 'an illustrated history of dairies' (Giramondo, 2007) and 'amphora' (Giramondo, 2011). 'kept busy', a CD of joanne burns reading a selection of her work, was released in 2007 (River Road Publishing). She is currently working on assembling a Selected poems collection, and on a new poetry collection, 'brush'. The ironic, satiric, the ludic and absurd feature strongly in her work.

Barbara Brooks is a Sydney writer, independent scholar and teacher of writing. She has published short stories, essays and a biography, Eleanor Dark: A Writer's Life. Her memoir Verandahs, which crosses into fiction, won the UTS Chancellors Award as an outstanding thesis.

About the Memoir Club: a meeting place for readers and writers

When: last Tuesday of every month (27 August, 24 September, 29 October, etc.)

Time: 6 - 8.30 PM (come help set up chairs etc. from 5.30pm if you can - more hands make lighter work! And at the end of the evening, help tidying up is much appreciated too...)

Where: The Randwick Literary Institute, 60 Clovelly Road, Randwick NSW 2031

Tel: 02-9398 5203 (for directions and venue info). Street parking is available. Clovelly bus 339 on the doorstep. For how to get there, see:

What: A communal space to meet other writers and readers and converse about all things to do with reading and writing memoir. We are interested in all kinds of life stories and in different ways of telling them. The genre of life writing and the possibilities of expanding and reworking the genre is exciting to us. Therefore we have a somewhat open and inclusive approach to what makes a memoir, and we hope you do too! Here is a space to connect with others and share ideas, questions and just hang out. Each meeting will start off with a talk, conversation or discussion about a particular topic or book, sometimes with a guest speaker or facilitator, then we move to an informal gathering and catch up.

Donation: $10 at the door for hall hire, refreshments and speakers.

Food: $15 for a plate of delicious vegan finger food from Rosada's Kitchen (different each meeting).

Future Speakers: Drusilla Modjeska (The Mountain), Mary Zournazi (on filmmaker Agnes Varda), Adam Aitken (Eighth Habitation) and Patti Miller (The Mind of a Thief) will join us at future sessions to talk about their memoirs or the memoir aspects of their work.

RSVP: Please RSVP to Beth at for room and catering purposes

Look forward to seeing you there! Please do pass information on to anyone who might be interested in this community gathering.

mem·oir /ˈmemˌwär/
Noun. A historical account or biography written from personal knowledge. An autobiography or a written account of one's memory of certain events or people.

“Breathe in experience, breathe out poetry.”                                                           —Muriel Rukeyser

"Robert Frost said that poetry can make you 'remember what you didn't know you knew'... In a way that is much more open-ended than prose writing, poetry destroys walls between private and public thoughts, between private and public emotions, between private and public motivations... You can truly describe personal events that may involve your familial readers with a power that is not necessarily stark, blunt, naked or offensive. A good poem is not always 'accurate' but just the same, is always 'true'."
                                                                                                                                   —Carl G. Schott

"cixous writes of her childhood experience of the story of jacob's ladder. how she was drawn to the images of descending angels. she writes of the dream ladder. going down. growing into the earth. the descent on the ladder of writing will be tough. down through the body of flesh and earth." 
                                                                                                                                     —joanne burns