Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Memoir Club: August Memoir Writing Masterclass with Barbara Brooks & Alison Lyssa

Tuesday, 26 August 2014, 6.00 - 9.00 PM

The Randwick Literary Institute,
60 Clovelly Road, Randwick 2031

Our next Memoir Club meeting is an opportunity to fire your writerly imagination and  garner crafty writing advice from two popular, highly regarded and extremely experienced writers and teachers of creative writing.
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The Masterclass will focus on strategies, ideas and techniques to aid your writing project. Part of the evening will be a conversation between Barbara and Alison on the scope memoir offers for you to explore your story and your role as the ‘eye’ of that story – the ‘eye’ that is at once participant, narrator and interpreter of the thought, feeling and experience that your story illuminates.

Given memoir’s brilliant power of bricolage and its freedom to borrow from fiction, poetry and drama, we’ll be discussing such techniques as: the vivid depiction of place and people; the creation of scenes; and the writing of dialogue. And, there’s memoir’s power to use language: its clarity, its rhythms and its delight in metaphor. Important too – well, actually, crucial – is your participation. Your questions and input will be welcomed.
For part of the evening we will divide into two groups for writing exercises and discussion. For the writing exercises please bring:

Writing materials and your sense of adventure; and,
An object or photograph that connects you with a theme, person or place vital to your writing project.


Barbara Brooks
is a writer and teacher of writing. She has taught at the University of Technology, Sydney and other universities, and runs her own BB Writinglife Masterclasses in memoir & fiction She has published a collection of short stories, Leaving Queensland, and a biography, Eleanor Dark: a writer’s life. Her latest work, Verandahs, is a memoir that crosses into fiction. Extracts have been published in magazines and anthologies. See

Alison Lyssa
is a playwright editor and writing mentor. She has published plays, poetry, short fiction and essays. She has mentored documentary film-makers at AFTRS, run community theatre projects in Western Sydney, and taught Writing for Performance and Creative Writing at UTS, UWS and Macquarie University. She recently gained a doctorate in creative writing with a new play, Hurricane Eye: A Masque for the Twenty-first Century.  Her play, Pinball, first performed at Sydney’s Nimrod Theatre in 1981, was revived for this year’s Mardi Gras, to acclaim.

When: last Tuesday of every month (30 Sept, 25 Oct etc.)

Time: 6.00 - 9.00 PM (come for a cuppa and help us set up at 5.30 PM - please remember to bring your own cup!)

Where: The Randwick Literary Institute, 60 Clovelly Road, Randwick 2031. Tel: 02-9398 5203 (for directions and venue info). Street parking 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: This month for the Memoir Writing Masterclass only: $20 at the door for hall hire, refreshments and speakers/ teachers.

Food: $15 for a plate of delicious vegetarian finger food (different each meeting). Ring or text to book a plate: 0450 907 422.

Future Speakers: Ross Gibson (Sept), Memoir Club Members Night (Oct).

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.

“A memoir is a work of sustained narrative prose controlled by the idea of the self under obligation to lift from the raw material of life a tale that will shape experience, transform event, deliver wisdom. Truth in a memoir is achieved not through a recital of actual events, it is achieved when the reader comes to believe that the writer is working hard to engage with the experience at hand. What happened to the writer is not what matters; what matters is the large sense the writer is able to make of what happened. For that the power of a writing imagination is required.”                                                                                                                                      —Vivian Gornick

“I don’t know where the idea originated that memoir writing is cathartic. For me, it’s always felt like playing my own neurosurgeon, sans anesthesia. As a memoirist, you have to crack your head open and examine every uncomfortable thing in there."
                                                                                                                                     —Koren Zailckas

“Non-fiction, and in particular the literary memoir, the stylised recollection of personal experience, is often as much about character and story and emotion as fiction is."
                                                                                                                —Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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