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Posts Tagged ‘connecting the dots’

While there are only four days left before the wedding (and we fly to New Jersey tomorrow), I’m taking a break from all-things-wedding to present “Family History: Ideas for Collecting & Assembling” at the University of Michigan’s Work/Life Resource Center’s 4th annual event on work/life issues. The title of this year’s conference is Connecting the Dots.

I was contacted by UM’s HR department after someone read the description of a similar class offered at Rec & Ed and one presented at the Ann Arbor Book Festival last May. You never know what opportunities will lead to other ones.

A description of the workshop:

Family History: Ideas for Collecting and Assembling Researching and writing your family history doesn’t have to be a daunting task. In this session, learn tips on how to gather information and brainstorm ideas before translating the stories and research into a form that you can share with family members.

The idea for this workshop, as well as earlier ones and a memoir writing class I taught in NJ a few years ago, came out of a family history project that my mother and I completed together. Continuing the work of her late sister, my mother researched documents about our family’s emigration from southern Italian (Sala Consilina) to northern NJ in the late 1800’s. My mother, a professional photographer, and I visited the town a number of times and collected not only more documents pertaining to the family, but also an oral history. Our relatives there were incredibly generous in sharing their stories.

We paired her photographs with my narrative poems re-telling the family’s history. The result is a manuscript entitled, “Cent’Anni.” The manuscript as a whole is still looking for a publisher, but individual poems have been published. If you are interested, here is one that is available online:

“Teresa serves dinner at 20:00” Conte: Journal of Narrative Writing (Dec. 2006)

I loved collecting oral history and crafting poems out of those voices and so I decided to begin Word Arrangement, a personalized poem company. And that’s how this blog and venture was born.   

I can’t wait – only 4 days left! – to becoming a family with my new husband.

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