Please join us for a conversation on the ethics of memoir writing with Melanie Brooks, Jaed Coffin, and Elizabeth Peavey AND a celebration of Implosion: A Memoir of an Architect’s Daughter by Elizabeth Garber!

Date & Time: July 12 at 6:00 PM & 7:00 PM
Location: Longfellow Books, Portland


Writing memoir is a tightrope walk: How do writers balance telling their truths with privacy concerns? How do they vividly recreate scenes that they may only partially remember? Is it ever ethical for a writer to “massage” the facts to protect real people, or to make their narrative more compelling?

Join us for a lively conversation on these topics and more, with memorists Melanie Brooks, Jaed Coffin, and Elizabeth Peavey. Moderated by MWPA executive director Joshua Bodwell.

BrooksMelanie Brooks is a freelance writer, college professor, and mother living in Nashua, New Hampshire with her husband, two children and yellow Lab. She’s the author of Writing Hard Stories: Celebrated Memoirists Who Shaped Art from Trauma (February 2017, Beacon Press). Melanie received her master of fine arts in creative nonfiction from the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast MFA program. She teaches at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, Merrimack College in Andover, Massachusetts, and Nashua Community College in New Hampshire. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, Bustle, The Manifest-Station, Hippocampus, the Huffington Post, Modern Loss, Solstice Literary Magazine, the Recollectors, the Stonecoast Review and Word Riot. She received the Michael Steinberg Prize for Creative Nonfiction in Solstice Literary Magazine’s annual contest. Her almost-completed memoir explores the lasting impact of living with the ten-year secret of her father’s HIV disease before his death in 1995. Her writing is the vehicle through which she’s learning to understand that impact.

CoffinJaed Coffin is an assistant professor of creative writing (nonfiction/fiction) in the English department and M.F.A. program at the University of New Hampshire. Coffin joined the UNH faculty as a lecturer, in fall 2014. He earned his B.A. in philosophy from Middlebury College and his M.F.A. in fiction from the Stonecoast M.F.A. at University of Southern Maine. His first book, A Chant to Soothe Wild Elephants (Da Capo/Perseus 2008), chronicles the summer he spent as a Buddhist monk in his mother’s village in central Thailand. His forthcoming book, Roughhouse Friday (from Riverhead/Penguin), is about the year he won the middleweight title of a barroom boxing show in Juneau, Alaska. Coffin has lectured widely at over twenty colleges and universities, where he speaks on topics of multiculturalism, masculinity, and the environment. Prior to coming to UNH, Coffin served as a lecturer at Bowdoin College and as the artist in residence at the Telling Room, a nonprofit storytelling foundation that empowers refugee communities in Maine. He has published over forty articles and essays in a broad range of journals and magazines, and has also served as the Wilson Fellow in Creative Writing at Deerfield Academy, a Resident Fellow at the Island Institute in Sitka, Alaska, and the William Sloane Fellow at the Bread Loaf Writers Conference. In 2015, he was a featured storyteller on the MOTH Radio Hour.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetElizabeth Peavey’s one-woman show, My Mother’s Clothes Are Not My Mother, has played to sold-out houses since 2011 and won the 2013 Maine Literary Award for Best Drama. It made its New York City debut in May 2015.

She is the author of Glorious Slow Going: Maine Stories of Art, Adventure and FriendshipOutta My Way: An Odd Life Lived Loudly and of Maine & Me, another MLA recipient.

Peavey has taught public speaking at the University of Southern Maine for over 20 years, was a guest lecturer of creative nonfiction at the University of Maine at Farmington and served as writer in residence at Bay Path University in Longmeadow, MA. She has taught her popular memoir workshop for the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance since the days of quill and parchment, as well at the 2015 Stonecoast Summer Conference. She is a frequent speaker at schools, libraries and associations around the state. Her current humor column, “Outta My Yard,” can be found at VISIT



“What could be cooler, thinks teen Elizabeth Garber in 1965, than to live in a glass house designed by her architect dad? Ever since childhood, she’s adored everything he loves–his XKE Jaguar, modern art, and his Eames black leather chair–and she’s been inspired by his passionate intensity as he teaches her about modern architecture. When Woodie receives a commission to design a high-rise dormitory–a tower of glass–for the University of Cincinnati, Elizabeth, her mother and brothers celebrate with him. But less than twenty years later, Sander Hall, the mirror-glass dormitory, will be dynamited into rubble.
Implosion: Memoir of an Architect’s Daughter delves into the life of visionary architect Woodie Garber and the collision of forces in the turbulent 1970s that caused his family to collapse. Soon after the family’s move into Woodie’s glass house, his need to control begins to strain normal bonds; and Elizabeth’s first love, a young black man, triggers his until-then hidden racism. This haunting memoir describes his descent into madness and follows Elizabeth’s inspiring journey to emerge from her abuse, gain understanding and freedom from her father’s control, and go on to become a loving mother and a healer who helps others.” –Publisher Marketing

“I was riveted by this story of an adoring daughter struggling to escape the dominance of her brilliant, charismatic father. Garber writes beautifully about the layered complications of family love.”
–Monica Wood, author of The One-in-a-Million Boy, When We Were the Kennedys, Any Bitter Thing, and Ernie’s Ark

“Garber’s extraordinary debut memoir tells the story of her abusive father, architect Woodie Garber….and steadily charts his and her family’s descent into chaos and madness, as Woodie’s commissions dry up and he ceases to receive the recognition he believes he deserves…. Recommended for survivors of abuse and those interested in knowing more about the ways in which great professional success often comes at the sacrifice of one’s own family and private life.”
— Library Journal

Photo_GarberElizabeth W. Garber is the author of three books of poetry, True Affections: Poems from a Small Town (2012), Listening Inside the Dance (2005), and Pierced by the Seasons (2004). Three of her poems have been read on NPR by Garrison Keillor on The Writer’s Almanac, and her poem “Feasting” was included in his Good Poems for Hard Times. She was awarded writing fellowships at Virginia Center for Creative Arts and Jentel Artist Residency Program in Wyoming.

Garber studied Greek Epic in the Mythology and Folklore Department at Harvard, received a BA from Johns Hopkins, a MFA in creative non-fiction from University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast Masters Program, and a master’s in acupuncture from the Traditional Acupuncture Institute. She has maintained a private practice as an acupuncturist for over thirty years in mid-coast Maine, where she raised her family.