Six women from different walks of life who were brought together in a Circle of Scholars writing class for seniors have published a collection of their memoirs titled “How We Got Here: The Women of WriteLife.”
WriteLife is the memoir writing seminar that is offered through Salve Regina University’s lifelong learning program, Circle of Scholars. The class is the brainchild of Jack Galvin, an author and retired educator from Newport’s Rogers High School. Galvin edited this edition, which includes the writing of Cathy Del Nero, Irene Hubbard, Dianne Elliott, Mary Clare O’Grady, Judith Porter, and Janet Skinner.
The women write about topics ranging from broken homes to world travels to competitive dancing. One grew up in rural Oklahoma, while another remembers her Slovakian ethnic neighborhood in New England. Another explores her Irish heritage. Their stories are humorous, touching, and varied, but all are united in showing how empowering moments of earlier times have shaped their lives. Each of the six women developed professional careers during a time when women had to fight for them.
“’How We Got Here’ celebrates our inherent strength in looking into our individual, yet collective life legacies,” says Elliot. “In doing so, we illuminate how our ghosts, even subconsciously, allow us to find the path to the collective space where we all were brave and valid for wanting to bring our voices into the air.”
The women share stories of driving down hair-pin curves in the mountains of Sicily, fighting back to shore during a hurricane, surviving an automobile crash on a Boston bridge, childhood adventures in an Oklahoma oil field, teenage gymnastics in a Slovakian-American gym in posh Greenwich, Conn., and maintaining an inter-cultural friendship.
“Our intentions for seeking out this particular genre varied from continued writing from other memoir seminars to sitting down for the first time to put-to-page our own stories,” Elliot said. “The class offered a welcoming, supportive environment set by our teacher, Jack Galvin, who led by example and identified value in our earliest attempts to put our life’s narratives into a black and white reality on a piece of paper-an oftentimes terrifying transition.”
In 2017, Galvin worked with six men from his WriteLife classes to publish a memoir titled “500 Years of Living.” That work included personal insights including a memorable boyhood bike trip; lessons from a stern father in Aleppo, Syria; a policeman’s friendship with the dog who saved him; and a Navy lieutenant’s surveillance of a Vietnamese gunboat off Phu Quoc Island.
The book is available in paperback on Amazon and will be sold locally at Island Books in Middletown.
The public is welcome to attend a reading and book signing at Greenvale Vineyards at 4:00 pm on Thursday October 1st.
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