Monday, March 12, 2012

Quilts: Utility or Art?

During my  childhood quilts were synonymous with poverty and the need to be utilitarian. That sphere of my life was defined by the practical demands of daily life and by a constant availability of thread-bare or out-dated men’s suits. A quilt represented the end product for scraps of imported British woolens my father toted home from the clothing factory where he toiled. Quilts were the destiny of winterweight fabric remnants. These my mother collected from the floor of her dressmaking room.

My parents emigrated to Quebec province from war torn Europe in 1949. And like the quilts my mother sewed, my parents endeavored to stitch new lives from scraps of the old country they toted with them. Those, too, were thread bare and out-dated. Those scraps survived almost entirely in their
memories. I saw no beauty in quilts. To me, their provenance was based in scarcity and necessity. They were covers created from remains, sewn together to provide warmth that otherwise was not to be found. My mother fashioned our quilts in lean times when money was scarce. We fantasized about indulging in
lush, warmly colored Hudson Bay blankets. I could see no artistry in the quilts. Surely, I felt no pride.
On Saturday evenings, after my mother had cleaned the dinner dishes, she retreated to her corner sewing room, my father’s complaints fading down the hall. “We just finished dinner. Leave your work room, wait until Monday.”

“A few minutes. It’s all I need.” She countered. “If I don’t put my workroom in order, nice and neat for Monday, I’ll have a bad start.” My brother and I could hear her working nimbly. The sharp steel of her dressmaking shears slid smoothly with an economy of movement. Stacking scraps of cloth, she cut symmetrical squares, usually for fifteen minutes. On Sundays, while my father  dozed, his stomach filled with potato pancakes and sour cream, my mother created our warmth in quilts—doubled sided!

At night, tucked into our quilts, she warmed us more with stories about each square.

Three Found Links

My Latest Project, Three Found Links: in Search of the Chain, will be coming out in April. The book is Three stories from My Forthcoming Short Story Collection: Broken Chains, Missing Links, a collection of auto-biographical short stories

Several have been published as stand-alone pieces in journals including Lilith Magazine, Hugo House Journal, Story Circle Anthology,, A Long Story Short, and others. 

The short story entitled Sorrel Summer was a finalist in Hugo House "Writing About War" competition and was the winner of the Annual Family Writing Project,

Monday, March 5, 2012

Feral Mom, Feral Writer

Counterpoint to Tips for Mothers Considering Pursuing an Online Degree 
by Marlene Samuels, PhD
 The idea of pursuing an online Ph.D. reminds me of the days when matchbook covers sported ads for earning diplomas or licenses by mail. Likely, this is too long ago for most blog readers to remember? One of my favorites: “Earn your semi-truck driver’s license by mail and earn more money”, or how about “become a graphic artist in your spare time.”

It’s not that I’m anti-technology or opposed to online learning - oh contraire! At this time I’m in the 2nd week of a 4-week “online course” for which I signed up and paid. I’m really learning an incredible amount but that noted, even though it’s only a 4-week course, I’m already way behind!

 Read the rest at PoetryMom

Friday, March 2, 2012

Writing Your Life: Going Beyond Journaling

Dedicated to Women Writers  

A Story Circle Network Workshop
​​April 29, 2012 
free, registration required   
501 N. Clinton Street, 5th Floor ​​
Chicago, Illinois 60654  
Inside Kinzie Park Complex, enter on W. Kinzie St. 
Parking inside Kinzie Park is first-come first-serve.

 FACILITATED BY: Marlene Samuels Ph.D. - author, editor and research sociologist,

An interactive workshop where you will…        
 learn how to use prompts effectively as an approach to writing your life stories or personal essays;
 have an opportunity to publish your essays in Changes In Life monthly on-line newsletter for women;
  have a chance to win a national membership to Story Circle Network ($45.00 value).
 Two additional registrants will receive the Writing Prompts book by Susan Wittig Albert, Story Circle Network’s founder.
  • Marlene is coauthor of The Seamstress: a Memoir of Survival, and her new book, Broken Chains, Missing links: A Memoir in Short Stories. She is Programming Chair of Story Circle Network   
  • Pat LaPointe - author, editor of Changes in Life Newsletter for Women, and the anthology The Woman I’ve Become. Pat is President of Story Circle Network  
To Register, call Pat LaPointe 847• 520•7035 
or Marlene Samuels 312• 879•1968