JewishGen education

Crafting Stories from Your Family's History

Perhaps you’ve come across a photo or a family heirloom that intrigues you. Maybe you’ve found your immigrant grandparents’ citizenship papers. Or perhaps you can’t stop thinking about the last time you saw Cousin Ellen at Aunt Helen’s funeral and the conversation did not go well. Maybe that story Uncle Irving told you about your great-grandparents still commands your attention. Or that cookbook your mother inherited that became the basis of holiday meals. And then there’s that tidbit you found in the metrical records that says your kosher-butcher great-grandfather was a trustee of the Baron Hirsch School, which would explain why Grandma was so educated.

Writing the Past workshops offers writers of all genres and all levels the opportunity to bring the family stories they’ve heard and details from ancestral paper trails onto the page. Using the Amherst Writers & Artists (AWA) method, we’ll meet online via Zoom for two hours using time-based prompts as inspiration. All material is considered fiction. Each participant is invited to read their work aloud; all work receives responses about what resonates, what is memorable or sticks. There is no critique. AWA Certified Facilitator Barbara Krasner provides the prompts.

Logistics: We will meet for two hours in four consecutive Sunday sessions via Zoom, 11 am - 1 pm ET. Enrollment will be limited to ten participants, who will write in real-time during these sessions, because there’s tremendous energy and power in writing together. Each participant is expected to use a computer (not cell phone) to access Zoom.

About the Amherst Writers & Artists Method

Pat Schneider founded the method through her book, Writing Alone and with Others (Oxford University Press, 2003). Nothing could be more appropriate to the COVID times we’re living through right now. The AWA method adheres to Five Essential Affirmations:

  1. Everyone has a strong, unique voice
  2. Everyone is born with creative genius
  3. Writing as an art form belongs to all people, regardless of economic class or educational level
  4. The teaching of craft can be done without damage to a writer’s original voice or artistic self-esteem
  5. A writer is someone who writes

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