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January 22nd, 2011

Feb 17: The Memoirathon: Experience and Expression

On February 17th at 8PM, Brooklyn Reading Works at the Old Stone House presents its 4th annual Memoirathon: Experience and Expression curated by Branka Ruzak with poet Howard Altmann, prose writers Mindy Greenstein, Chris Macleod, Sue Ribner, Andrea Rosenhaft, Elena Schwolsky, Beverly Willett and Annalee Wilson AND exhibition of works by photographers Jamie Livingston and Hugh Crawford and painter Kathleen Mackenzie.

The English noun memoir, comes from the French mémoire and the Latin memoria, meaning memory. In its very simplest form, one can look at memoir as a remembrance of something meaningful or significant in one’s life. Artists capture and explore personal memories in unique ways, dependent on how they choose to express themselves, whether it’s through painting, photography, poetry, essay, etc. This evening celebrates the expression of memoir in just a few of its many forms.

Click on read more to read about the  prose writers, poets, photographers and painters, who will participate in this year's Memoirathon.

Howard Altmann is the author of In This House (Turtle Point Press, 2010), his second book of poems. His poetry has appeared in assorted journals including, most recently, New England Review, Ploughshares, and Poetry.  He is also the author of the play, The Johnsons & The Thompsons (Playscripts, 2008).  Born and raised in Montreal, he has earned degrees from McGill and Stanford University.


Mindy Greenstein is a clinical psychologist, psycho-oncologist, and writer. Her book, The House on Crash Corner and Other Unavoidable Calamities, will be published by Greenpoint Press in April, 2011.   In addition to her psychiatric papers, her personal essays have appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and Mindy Lewis’s anthology, DIRT: The Quirks, Habits and Passions of Keeping House.  She lives in New York City with her husband and two sons.

Chris MacLeod has written over 1600 freelance articles for such publications as Premiere, Playbill and the New York Observer.  She also served as editor of the Alzheimer's Association's NYC newsletter for over 20 years, and taught Journalism at New York University. She is working on a memoir entitled "Goddess, Anonymous."

Sue Ribner has been writing nonfiction for many years, publishing articles on women’s history, children’s literature and the martial arts. She has co-authored two young adult books, The Martial Arts, and Right On! An Anthology of Black Literature (under the pseudonym Rebecca Moon). She currently teaches Creative Nonfiction at Hunter College, where she has taught writing for twenty years. She’s also run several workshops at senior centers, funded by Poets & Writers, and is the co-founder of the Gribner Nonfiction Manuscript Workshops, held in both the U.S. and Prague. Sue is currently completing Sister Stories, a memoir.

Andrea Rosenhaft is a licensed clinical social worker who practices in New York City.  She is currently working on a memoir detailing her experience with mental illness.  Several chapters from that memoir, which explore the issues of anorexia, suicide, depression, and transference, have been published independently. She also publishes under the pseudonym Gerri Luce.  "Sharp Edges," the piece about anorexia was published in the anthology, Illness & Grace, Terror & Transformation by WisingUp Press, and "Darkness and Insanity," the chapter on psychotic depression was published online on <> .  The most recent publication, "The Fine Line Between Love and Insanity," was published in the anthology View From the Bed*View From the Bedside, also by WisingUp Press.

Elena Schwolsky is a public health educator who lives in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.  Her writing explores the powerful intersection of her personal and professional experience on the frontlines of the AIDS epidemic in the U.S. and Cuba. Her essay “Searching for Pina in Havana” appears in the anthology Storied Dishes:  What Our Family Recipes Tell Us About Who We Are And Where We’ve Been (edited by Linda Berzok, Praeger, 2010). Elena received a Barbara Deming/Money for Women Fund award for her memoir in progress, and in August of 2010 she was named a finalist in the She non-fiction book contest.

Beverly Willett is a non-fiction writer and former entertainment attorney.  Her personal essays, service pieces, and book reviews have appeared in many publications including The New York Times, Newsweek, Woman’s Day, Family Circle, Prevention, Parenting, and The Daily Beast. She’s a regular contributor to The Huffington Post's new divorce page under the helm of Nora Ephron, and is a former Contributing Editor to Chicken Soup for the Soul Magazine. She is currently at work on her first book.  Please visit her at <>.

AnnaLee Wilson is a New York City author and business owner. Born in Newark, New Jersey, she enjoys life on Manhattan’s Upper West Side with her husband, her daughter and their dog. Her writing has appeared in the literary journal, The First Line, 2005. She has an essay in the anthology, Storied Dishes published by Praeger, 2010, and an essay forthcoming in This Is the Way We Say Goodbye, an anthology from Feminist Press, due April, 2011. Currently she is working on a memoir about the graphic design business she founded with two other women in 1974 when only 5% of US companies were women-owned. Research for the era of her book (New York City in the 1970s) was accomplished through a Wertheim Residency award from the New York Public Library. Currently, AnnaLee co-hosts the One Page Poetry Circle at St. Agnes Branch Library in Manhattan on the second Tuesday of each month.


Jamie Livingston carried an SX-70 Polaroid around his waist. When the mood struck him, (a red wall, Coney Island in afternoon light, you walking through sparkling cars in a parking lot) he’d take a photograph.  Bracing his camera against a wall or setting a tripod on a bench, he’d ask you to stand perfectly still.  As the Polaroid developed, he’d stamp it with a date, slide it into his camera case and take it home to add to the other photographs he’d taken, one every day, for eighteen years. The Photo of The Day was his ritual. He collected unusual places, strange angles, curious things, loyal subjects, beautiful times of day and committed them to memory.

When he learned at age 40 that he had melanoma, Jamie kept taking pictures. The photos began to include hospitals, and his scar when a tumor was removed from his brain.

In October 1997, at 41, Jamie died and left behind a rare memoir: every day of eighteen years of his life.  Six thousand, six hundred and ninety seven photographs, dated, in sequence, which, lined end to end, would stretch half a mile. Weirdly, Jamie can be remembered for precisely the things he wanted to remember: daily ordinary joy. Photo of the Day is a work of light, color, laughter, pain, travel, beauty, won ton soup, afternoons, coffee, hanging out, love, life in its entirety. It’s the masterpiece we all create. It’s just that Jamie thought to take its picture.

Exhibited at Bard College on the ten-year anniversary of his death, POD is being published as a book. Photos can be seen on the following website

Hugh Crawford is known for his portraiture, urban and rural landscape photography and No Words Daily Pix on the blog Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn. He has exhibited in New York City and California, where he received an MFA from CALarts. His editorial work has appeared in Rolling Stone, Tattler, Newsweek and other publications. At the Old Stone House he will exhibit his Photo Address Book project, a collection of Polaroid portraits ostensibly taken to fill a spiral notebook he used in the 1970s and '80s as an address book but is also an exploration of mnemonics and memory. He is currently at work on a book about Jamie Livingston and the Photo of a Day project. He is the programmer/producer (with Betsy Reid) behind the Jamie Livingston Photo of the Day website that has been viewed by millions of people around the world.


Kathleen MacKenzie paints herself as a child and members of her family by deconstructing black and white photographs from the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s. Her background in painting as well as experimental film and video, have an influence on her selection of details captured within each photograph and the framing within each painting.  Her rich painted surfaces are colorful and textured but her paintings also reflect in each posed figure an underlying psychological isolation. Referencing the photograph, relying on memory and intuition, the selected details become a significant moment in time. Kathleen parents immigrated from Ireland and Scotland in the 1920’s. Born in Manhattan, Kathleen was raised in the Bronx, where the immigrant experience was a major part of her growing up.

Curator Branka Ruzak has been a writer, producer and editor in commercial and corporate advertising, working on everything from beauty and cosmetics to health and wellness issues. Her essay Hungry Heart is in the anthology Dirt: The Quirks, Habits, and Passions of Keeping House, edited by memoirist Mindy Lewis (Seal Press, 2009). She has also written a collection of essays about family, identity, culture and travel. Currently, she is writing about her adventures in the pursuit of a better wage. Born of immigrant parents in Ohio, she currently lives in New York.

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