Saturday, January 21, 2012

Lary Bloom, Suzanne Levine Will Help You Tell Your Own Tale with Memoir Class

March 7-April 25; Registration Deadline Feb. 15   
  Bloom and Levine will offer A Class in Memoir from 5:30 to 7:30 pm in the Mark Twain Museum Center, 351 Farmington Ave., Hartford. One session will be held in Mark Twain's library in the historic house. 

To participate, a serious interest in the memoir form is the only requirement; beginners are welcome. To register, please send a brief letter or email of interest to Steve Courtney at steve.courtney@marktwainhouse.org or call 860-247-0998, Ext. 243. Registrants will be limited to 14. The tuition fee of $600 must be paid in full by the registration deadline of Feb. 15.

Bloom is a legendary figure in the Connecticut literary world, known nationally as a pioneer of the New Journalism. For 20 years, he edited Northeast magazine at The Hartford Courant, fostering a new kind of work that used the tools of fiction to tell the stories of ordinary people -- while maintaining strict truthtelling. He nurtured writers from Wally Lamb to Cindy Brown Austin (both of whom first pubished in Northeast), and turned the magazine into a Connecticut literary incubator for nurturing creativity of all types. His much-read weekly column -- unusual and unpredictable takes on unsung Connecticut characters and their achievements -- today finds a home in the pages of Connecticut Magazine.

During his two decades at Northeast he wrote essay collections and The Writer Within, which provides lessons in nonfiction writing learned from his years as a Sunday magazine editor. He produced the Twain's World series, essays on Hartford's cultural heritage that were collected in a book of that name. But many achievements took the magazine outside its traditional boundaries of its cover.

He was a founder of the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival, which featured many of America's greatest poets, including Stanley Kunitz, Sharon Olds, James Merrill and Lucille Clifton; Art For All, a public art project featuring work by Katharine Hepburn, Dave Brubeck, and many visual artists; and Mark Twain Days, a citywide celebration that featured the music of Ray Charles and the Kingston Trio, and the comedy of the Smothers Brothers, as well as activities such as jousts and Gilded Age baseball games. Another major public project was Connecticut Voices, during which 50 distinguished state authors (including Arthur Miller, William Styron, and Annie Dillard) were profiled, and then read from their books on public radio.

Since leaving Northeast, he has collaborated with former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge on his controversial memoir, "The Test of Our Times," and wrote, with Senator Christopher J. Dodd, "Letters from Nuremberg." The teaching he did as an editor has continued in tandem with Levine: classes at The Mark Twain House & Museum, at the Florence Griswold Museum, and the renowned literary bookstore R.J. Julia in Madison, Connecticut. He is on the faculty of Fairfield University's MFA writing program.

Levine, a noted poet, is the author of "Haberdasher's Daughter," a book which makes clear the connections between the worlds of poetry and memoir. It was a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in California Quarterly, Passages North, Interpoesia, Permafrost Quiddity International Literary Journal, Southern California Review, The Chaffin Journal, Stand Magazine UK and Whiskey Island Magazine among others. A Pushcart nominee, she was a finalist in the 2009 Midnight Sun Chapbook Competition and a contributor to the anthology Forty Fathers (2009). She holds an MFA from Vermont College.

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Lauren Yarger with playwright Alfred Uhry at the Mark Twain House. Photo: Jacques Lamarre)

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