Little known fact: public speaking is a skill. A learned skill.

elizabeth peavey
writer  |  speaker  |  educator



It’s been quite a spring. In May, I made my New York City debut with my one-woman show, My Mother’s Clothes Are Not My Mother, to two full and enthusiastic houses. From there, I brought the show back to Portland for three, back-to-back sold-out performances at St. Lawrence Arts. Three days later, I was received by yet another full room at the Stonington Opera House on the tip of Deer Isle in Down East Maine. Mom always did love a road trip.

It was also a rewarding stretch for teaching. I started the year with a six-week memoir workshop with a group of seniors at the Betsy Ross House in South Portland, which culminated in a community reading from the participants’ “greatest hits.” I am happy to report the group has soldiered on without me and continues going strong. (I know this because almost all of them were front-row center at one of my recent St. Lawrence performances.) I also conducted a memoir workshop that brought seniors together with high school students, titled “Seniors to Seniors.” The elder seniors orally recorded stories from their youth that the high schoolers then transcribed and worked on to create an essay. These essays were then read by the students (with their senior partners in the audience) to a community event sponsored by Graves Library in Kennebunkport. A booklet with beautiful illustrations by a Kennebunk high school student was created and presented to each participant.

I also taught memoir workshops at the Patten Free Library in Bath in March, the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance spring writing retreat in Grand Lake Stream in April and at Maine College of Art in June. I am on the faculty at the weeklong Stonecoast Summer Writers’ Conference, Portland, in July.

Most exciting, I was finally able to hand off the manuscript for the memoir version of my show to my agent, which I have been working on between performances for the past several years. My Mother’s Clothes Are Not My Mother is currently being shopped around. Please send good publishing thoughts my way.

I am taking advantage of this bit of downtime to exhale, get caught up and look forward. I continue to take on new private editing and public speaking clients. I am investigating taking My Mother’s Clothes on the road and am gathering booking advice. (I always say, If I were good at sales, I’d sell yachts, not myself.) I am exploring future teaching opportunities, especially working with seniors. As much as I enjoy writing and performing, I consider teaching memoir my life’s true work. As I said at the end of a recent column:

Why do I feel this urgency to help people tell their stories? Yes, because it’s fun, but there’s more. My mom and dad are gone, as are most of their friends. I have no living uncles or aunties. Almost an entire generation has left me, taking large chunks of my personal history with them. It’s as though walking down a long corridor, flicking off lights in each room you pass, forever blacking out the contents. Teaching my workshops is just my way of saying, Leave a light on.

That’s it for this time. Thanks for stopping by. Bye for now.





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