May 13, 2022 — Writer and teaching artist Frank Ingrasciotta, along with assistant Napoleon Felipe, held a celebration featuring the work of thirteen participants during a ten-week virtual memoir writing workshop, titled “Bringing Life to Life Stories.” The program was sponsored by the E.A. Michelson Foundation, and facilitated by Teachers Writers Collaborative.
Over the course of the program, participants explored different approaches to writing memoir, engaging in visual, mathematical, logical, interpersonal, and linguistic exercises to inspire ideas. Participants tuned into the weekly classes from different locations, some as far as London. Frank’s main goal was to build a container of trust among the participants by encouraging the group to express themselves with more vulnerability and take greater risks as they formulated their stories. Each class began with a warm-up followed by an assignment and ended with students sharing their stories and reflections. The resulting work shared in the celebration is a stream of thoughts, feeling, and rhythms that express the voices of the wonderful and talented participants.
Watch the program’s celebratory reading on YouTube!
Frank Ingrasciotta is an actor, playwright, stage director, and has served on the Teachers & Writers Collaborative roster since 1998. He is also an adjunct acting instructor as SUNY Purchase, fluent in Italian, and holds a BA in theater arts and educational theater from SUNY Empire State College. His residencies infuse theater, playwriting, poetry, and scriptwriting into science, social studies, and language arts curricula. Napoleon Felipe, his assistant, is a writer and teacher artist from the Bronx, New York who works with Free Verse, a poetry program based out of the South Bronx NeON. He has served as an apprentice instructor and as a Lead Poet in workshops for up-and-coming poets in the Bronx and in other sites across New York City since 2012. Presently, Napoleon teaches art, poetry, and theatre workshops with Teachers & Writers Collaborative at the Visions Senior Center for Visually Impaired Seniors.
Below is a poem written by Lynda Beth Unkeless during the program.
The Last Dinner
(Food Inspired Writing)
Baked custard in glass cups.
Mama made these for us at home.
At the country club
she ordered me a juicy hamburger with dill pickles
French fries and bottomless iced tea with fresh lemon slices.
on the other hand-
took us to a different restaurant
every Sunday night
We went to a Cuban restaurant.
The maitre d’said,
“But sir–we do not serve children in this establishment”
So Daddy quickly took us to an Italian joint for
Ravioli, and Eggplant parmesan.
Nothing but the finest food for our family!
In the Love Dept. though it was a different story,
The last dinner with my Mother at the Sizzler Steakhouse in San Diego,
she touched my cheek, and said,
“Beth, your skin is so beautiful.
I am sorry I never told you that.”
After dinner she fell down drunk in the parking lot.
Two weeks later, she hung herself, and died.
The Food was always so good in my family.
The Love…not so much.