2015 was big. Not only did I finish the manuscript for my years-in-the-making memoir, My Mother’s Clothes Are Not My Mother, I also gave my one-woman show of the same name its New York City debut in May. I returned home to three sell-outs at St. Lawrence Arts here in Portland and a full house at the Stonington Opera House in June. I served as faculty at the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance Blackfly spring writing retreat and at the Stonecoast summer writing conference in July. All the while, my private editing work and public speaking coaching continued to expand and thrive. Speech clients ranged from corporate CEOs to a crime writer to a father of the bride. (What, you’re going to spend all that money on a wedding and then not enjoy it because you’re nervous about your toast?)
In spite of all these things, my most rewarding accomplishment of 2015 was my work with seniors. In February, through a grant secured by Lisa Joyce at the Portland Public Library, I taught a memoir-writing workshop to a group of residents at the Betsy Ross House in South Portland. Next, I created a program for Graves Library in Kennebunkport I called “Seniors to Seniors,” in which I paired seniors with high school students to capture and preserve a childhood memory from each of the elders’ lives. In the fall, with a grant from the Eunice Frye Foundation, I worked with three more Portland-area seniors groups to form a program I called “Senior Story Share.” Each of the five programs concluded with a public reading for each of their individual communities. In November, I brought representatives from each group together for a citywide reading at the Portland Public Library. With over 150 in attendance, the response was through the roof. Requests for my workshop continue to come from libraries and senior living facilities around the state.
To view the PPL readings, I invite you to go to program.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UWoYF1JVP-s. If you drop down the "show more," you can view one presenter at a time.
To learn more about my teaching experience, here are links to a couple pieces I wrote, the first of which includes samples of the participants’ work: http://thebollard.com/2015/11/05/old-school/) and http://thebollard.com/2015/04/01/outta-my-yard-105/And here’s a feature by WGME’s Kim Block on my 100 State Street group: http://www.wgme.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/maine-seniors-share-write-their-stories-29933.shtml#.VkKGLberSJA.
I am currently working on securing funding to give my programming greater reach and a platform so others might fashion similar programs after mine. I am also offering it to private residences that don’t rely on public funding.
In the meantime, my agent continues to shop my book around. I have submitted my show to the Portland Stage Company’s Little Festival of the Unexpected 2016, ’17 season, and a director in Tucson is currently considering it. I plow forward with other teaching, most recently at the Stonecoast MFA winter residency, and I am still taking on new editing and speech clients.
Lots of promise and possibility hovering on the horizon, and I’m looking forward to seeing what comes of it. It’s a bright new year.
Why do I feel this urgency to help people tell their stories? Yes, because it’s fun, but there’s more. My mom and dad are gone, as are most of their friends. I have no living uncles or aunties. Almost an entire generation has left me, taking large chunks of my personal history with them. It’s as though walking down a long corridor, flicking off lights in each room you pass, forever blacking out the contents. Teaching my workshops is just my way of saying, Leave a light on.
That’s it for this time. Thanks for stopping by. Bye for now.