Friday, April 28, 2017

Memoir Masterclasses and other classes coming up

Right Now: 

I'm running a series of my own memoir and creative nonfiction masterclasses focusing on structure at the moment. This series will finish in July.

Future courses: 

Memoir and Memory is a memoir writing course I'm running at the NSW Writers Centre, starting in August. You'll find it on the NSWWC website soon.

I'll start a new series of my Memoir and Nonfiction Masterclasses in September. 

I'm planning to run a one-day course called Kickstart your Writing, for anyone who's about to begin a writing project,and wants some advice and inspiration; as well as anyone working on a project who is stuck and needs stimulus and advice about how to get started again and keep going. This is a practical session with writing exercises to help you get started, get your ideas on paper, and explore possibilities.  

Contact me about my classes at


Early in 2018, Alison Lyssa and I will be teaching an extended version of Kickstart your Writing over two weekend days, venue to be announced.  

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Special message from the Memoir Club: October session cancelled

Randwick Literary Institute 

60 Clovelly Road

Randwick 2031

We’re very sorry to say that at this late date we have to cancel our October session. Due to unfortunate circumstances, Rosie Scott is unable to be our guest this month.  We send our warm wishes to Rosie and her family.  

Change of date for next session: Patti Miller in conversation with Beth Yahp on Tuesday Dec 1st 

The good news is that our next meeting, the last for the year, will be Patti Miller in conversation with Beth Yahp about Beth’s memoir, Eat First, Talk Later.  It’s a treat – a memoir of family, feasting, and the travelling self,  evoking life in Malaysia and telling some of its diverse history.  Patti Miller writes memoir and nonfiction  -  her latest book is Ransacking Paris - and is a much admired teacher of life writing.  It’s the last Memoir Club meeting for the year, so we’ll make it a celebration!  The date has been changed to Tuesday 1 December, put it in your diary now. 

The not-so-good news is that it may be the final meeting of the Memoir Club.  We’ve been going for three years now, with the support of our guest speakers and our members (you!), and much hard work behind the scenes from Beth, initially with Brent, Alison and Barbara. This year the sessions have been organised and run by members of our committee.  But life is unstoppable and work commitments, family commitments, and illness have made it impossible for some to contribute and difficult for others to continue. If you can commit to helping us, come along in December and hear more.     

Memoir Club Committee: Alison Lyssa, Bindu Narula, Beth Yahp, Barbara Brooks, Josephine Grieve, Jessica Kirkness, Betty O’Neill, Emily Chantiri and Nasrin Mahoutchi

“What could be simpler to understand than the act of people writing about what they know best, their own lives? But his apparently simple act is anything but simple, for the writer becomes, in the act of writing, both the observing subject and the object of investigation, remembrance, and contemplation.”
Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson


For more news see Memoir Club Sydney on Facebook, or

Barbara Brooks


Thursday, August 20, 2015

August at the Memoir Club: PROGRAM CHANGE!!                 

  25 August 2014  6.00—9.00PM
at Randwick Literary Institute
60 Clovelly Road, Randwick 2031
RSVP by 23 August:
Donation: $30/$25* (to cover teaching component)

Rosada’s delicious menu:  Chickpea curry. Spinach and potato curry with tomato, coconut and coriander. Brown rice and basmati rice. ($15, please book by texting: 0450 907 422)

News flash: Sadly, we have to postpone Rosie Scott’s session in August for personal reasons. We wish Rosie and family all the best and we’ll let you know asap the new date for her session.
Instead, join our Memoir Club Writing Masterclass with 
Barbara Brooks and Alison Lyssa

This masterclass was hugely successful when we ran it in 2014, helping participants to grapple with writing craft particular to memoir. Once again, you are invited to fire your writerly imagination and gather crafty writing advice with fabulous writing teachers Barbara Brooks and Alison Lyssa. The focus is on generating new writing - helping you get started on a project you have in mind - or delving into your own writing and memoir project. Not to be missed!

Alison and Barbara will introduce you to a page from the award-winning memoir H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald, revealing the way she achieves, with unflinching honesty and intensity of emotion, a sense of momentum in brilliant descriptive writing.  Then some writing exercises to fire your imagination, stimulate memories and generate new writing. After a break and Rosada's delicious vegetarian meal, we’ll divide into small groups to discuss your writing exercises and insights.

For the writing exercises please bring:
  • writing materials and
  • your sense of adventure and your imagination  
(The extract from H is for Hawk that we'll talk about is from pp85-86 of the Vintage paperback; when you rsvp we'll send you scanned pages.) 

*PLEASE NOTE: the donation for the masterclass session this meeting will be $30, to cover the teaching component.

Barbara Brooks  is a writer & teacher of writing. She has taught at the University of Technology, Sydney & other universities, and runs her own Masterclasses in memoir & fiction – see her blog at She has published Leaving Queensland, & Eleanor Dark: a writer’s life. Her latest work, Verandahs, is memoir/fiction. To read published extracts, go to

Alison Lyssa is a playwright, editor and writing mentor. She has published plays, poetry, short fiction & essays. She has mentored documentary film-makers at AFTRS, run community theatre projects, & taught Writing at UTS, UWS & Macquarie University. Her new play, Hurricane Eye was written as her doctorate in creative writing. Pinball, first performed at Sydney’s Nimrod Theatre in 1981, was revived for the 2015 Mardi Gras, to acclaim.


Randwick Literary Institute, 60 Clovelly Rd Randwick. Street parking available. Clovelly bus 339 on the doorstep. For how to get there, see:

Friday, August 7, 2015

This month the Memoir Club presents award-winning author Rosie Scott in conversation with Beth Yahp about Rosie’s latest book: The Intervention: An Anthology, co-edited with Anita Heiss. The book is a compelling challenge to the 2007 NT Intervention by the Howard Government and its ongoing breach of human rights. In fiction, memoir, essays, poetry and communiqu├ęs, the dramatic story of the Intervention and the despair, anguish and anger of our First Nations peoples comes alive through the work of twenty of Australia’s finest
writers, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, together with powerful statements from Northern Territory Elders. Many of these stories are about how people’s lives are lived and their experiences determined by forces beyond their control, usually out of sight of mainstream Australia.

Randwick Literary Institute
60 Clovelly Road, Randwick 2031
Tuesday 25 August 2015, 6.00-9.00PM
$15/10 – RSVP:

Rosie Scott, a writer, teacher, mentor and activist, has long experience in listening to and enabling the telling of such life stories, through her own writing and the anthologies she co-edited with Tom Keneally, AnotherCountry (2005) and A Country Too Far: Writings on Asylum Seekers (2013).

‘The Intervention to us was like Australia declaring war on us and in the process
they demonised and dehumanized Aboriginal men women and children.’
Rosalie Kunoth-Monks

Dr Rosie Scott has published six novels, short stories,
poems, essays, a play and three anthologies. Well known and
admired for her commitment to social justice, she was nominated
with Tom Keneally for the Human Rights Medal, and awarded the
2015 STARTTS Humanitarian Award for her work with refugees.
She was co-founder of Women for Wik in 2007.

‘My writing is fuelled by me as a totality, but also by my political feelings,’ Rosie writes. ‘I’m particularly interested in writing about the outsiders of society, people way outside my own experience.’  Join us for a discussion of Rosie Scott’s new anthology of moving, impassioned, spiritual, angry and authoritative documentation of a most controversial event, as well as the way her own‘totality’ and ‘political feelings’ have influenced the writing life and work of this committed and inspirational author.

Beth Yahp is an award winnning novelist who has also published nonfiction and lyrics for opera. She is a highlt regarded teacher of writing, currently teaching the writing program at Sydney University. Her memoir, Eat First, Talk Later, will be published by Random House in September.

For a delicious vegetarian supper ($15), please book by texting
Rosada at 0450 907 422 before Sunday 23 August.

Barbara Brooks

Thursday, June 25, 2015

what we're reading

I'm reading Griffith Review's 'great reads' emails, and the latest put me onto Chart Collective.

Chart Collective is a not-for-profit publishing venture from Melbourne, started under the auspices of The Lifted Brow. Chart Collective looks beyond the idea that people are separate to nature, to explore the ways our stories are woven into the Australian environment. Our publishing model incorporates online and printed publication of text, image and sound, as well as in situ events, affording us the freedom to explore ideas in whichever format best suits a concept, a community or a contributor.

Within our malleable model we invite people from across disciplines and Australian communities to consider and respond to the ways their own and others’ experiences are mapped in place and time; the ways these places inform our belief systems and sense of self; the ways we influence ecological systems, and the ways they influence us. In doing this, we want to uncover and strengthen the connections we have to our places, in order to better understand, respect and nourish the ecosystems that we, as people, are embedded in.

It's just past the winter solstice, so I'm including the link to the 'Longer Light" series.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Our Memoir Club's next meeting is Tuesday 30 June, 6.00pm, at Randwick Literary Institute. Do join us to hear Anne Gorman in conversation with Julie Bail about Anne's memoir, The Country Wife, which Prof. Edmund Campion described as 'a triumph'.

RSVP to Betty O'Neill:

Book your plate of yummy vegetarian food ($15, payable on the night). Text or phone our wonderful caterer Rosada by Sun. 28 June: 0450 907 422. Specify if you want gluten-free.

Help needed to set up and pack away: Set up is from 5.30pm. We're usually packed up by 9pm. Please email Bindu Narula if you can volunteer:  Much appreciated!

Entry donation: $15 / $10. Extra gifts welcomed too for a much needed PA system!

Please broadcast the invitation to all who might be interested.


Barbara Brooks, Emily Chantiri, Josephine Grieve, Jessica Kirkness, Alison Lyssa, Nasrin Mahoutchi
, Bindu Narula, Betty O'Neill and Beth Yahp (Memoir Club Committee).

Image removed by sender.

Invitation to our next Memoir Club meeting:
Tuesday 30 June 2015        6.00—9.00pm
Randwick Literary Institute
60 Clovelly Road, Randwick 2031

RSVP by 28 May:

Anne Gorman
in conversation
with Julie Bail

'Anne’s book is a triumph…. I kept admiring the way she did not attempt to jerk the readers’ emotions but told the story straight and honest and left readers to add their own emotions. Again and again I noticed how swiftly she delivered her narrative and admired the spare prose style that made this possible. It’s a big book but not a lengthy one.'
- Professor Edmund Campion.

Join us and Anne Gorman, as she discusses her memoir The Country Wife, and the challenges of re-creating for the reader the intimate often grief-stricken and always deeply moving experiences of her girlhood, student life and marriage, while at the same time crafting an insightful wider context for her personal story.  

Image removed by sender.
Anne Gorman was born in Mudgee NSW, into a house of grief following the loss of her seventeen year old sister. Anne’s birth would be her mother’s eleventh but not the last.  When she was five, her mother’s nervous breakdown and her father’s death, events which coincided with the beginning of  World War 11, made for an unstable childhood.  Anne grew up in Sydney, and was educated at Kincoppal-Rose Bay, and for five glorious years at Sydney University, gaining degrees in Arts and Social Work.

At  23 Anne found herself living in the Riverina on a sheep and wheat property, married and  pregnant, living a life she could never have imagined. When her husband became gravely ill, an illness lasting over 10 years, Anne found the courage to keep the farm and her family of five children afloat. Later as a widow and single mother, she grew into a woman of substance, taking an active part in the big issues of the day, within a much wider landscape.

The Japanese had bombed the US fleet in Hawaii and then gone on to invade the Philippines, Northern Malaya and Hong Kong. Although I had no idea where those places were, everyone said this was a calamity and would have big consequences……
In Sydney there was a movement to arm the population. People trained as guerrillas, air–raid shelters were built and mass evacuations to the mountains took place. Children, especially, were being sent away from the coast to protect them from the unthinkable.
Would we be among those to be shipped out? Please God make my mother look the other way!

- Anne Gorman, The Country Wife.

About the Memoir Club: a meeting place for readers and writers

When: last Tuesday of the month (30 June, 28 July, etc., through to 24 Nov.)
Time: 6.00 - 9.00pm. Come for a cuppa and chat from 5.45pm before the program starts at 6.00pm sharp.
Help setting & clearing up: If you can help set up at 5.30pm, and/or stay at the end to help clear up, please email Bindu Narula who is co-ordinating volunteers:  Much appreciated!!
Where: The Randwick Literary Institute (RLI), 60 Clovelly Road, Randwick NSW 2031.
Street parking available. Clovelly bus 339 on the doorstep. For info on the venue and directions, 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: $15/$10 at the door for hall hire, refreshments and guest speakers.
Food: $15 for a plate of delicious vegan food from Rosada's Kitchen. Please text or phone your order to Rosada on 0450 907 422 by Saturday 27 June, if possible, or by Sunday 28 June at the latest, to give Rosada time to prepare. Specify if you'd like the gluten-free option.

Forthcoming Meetings:

30 June: Anne Gorman in conversation with Julie Bail.
28 July: Rosie Scott in conversation with Beth Yahp.
25 August: Writing Family History - Betty O'Neill.

RSVP: to Betty O'Neill at

We look forward to seeing you there!
Please do pass the invitation on to anyone who might be interested.