Inside each of us is a story. It’s the story of our lives, the tale of how we became who we are today, in all its splendor and gravity. By nature it’s a personal story, which is why passing it on to others can be one of the most intimate, meaningful gifts.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by memoirs and biographies. I think it is the opportunity to see behind the curtain of someone who enthralls me. I remember reading The Path to Power, Robert Caro’s biography of Lyndon B. Johnson, and being captivated by how Johnson’s Texas upbringing shaped his entire life, even his time in the Oval Office. On a more personal note, I recall my Dad telling stories about his childhood adventures in Ocean City, Maryland. His story has become my own, as I have fallen in love with the water and the beach.
Put simply, our stories have power. They shape us and mold us. And, if we pass them on, they have the power to shape those who come after us.
It is this truth that makes me so excited to introduce you to Beth Kephart, our upcoming speaker for the Senior Adult Luncheon. Beth is a master storyteller, both of her own narrative, and at equipping people like you and me to tell our tales. Beth’s book, Handling the Truth: On the Writing of Memoir, based in part on her teaching at the University of Pennsylvania (where she won the 2015 Beltran Teaching Award), won the 2013 Books for a Better Life Award (Motivational Category), was featured as a top writing book by O Magazine, and was named a Best Writing Book by Poets and Writers.
These are just a few of Beth’s many awards and accolades. She’s the author of 22 books, which have been translated into 18 languages. She is a National Book Award nominee and a winner of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts fiction grant, a National Endowment for the Arts grant, a Leeway grant, a Pew Fellowships in the Arts grant, and the Speakeasy Poetry Prize, among other honors. Her essays, reviews, and interviews have appeared in The New York Times, Salon.com, LitHub, LARB, Ploughshares Blog, The Millions, Chicago Tribune, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Creative Nonfiction, Brevity, and elsewhere. She has given keynote addresses on the state of literature and teaching, and has judged numerous literary contests, including the National Book Awards, the National Endowment for the Arts, and PEN.
Kephart was one of 50 Philadelphia writers chosen for the yearlong Philadelphia’s Literary Legacy celebration of authors, playwrights, and poets of the last 300 years, exhibited at the Philadelphia International Airport. Excerpts from her Love: A Philadelphia Affair were the subject of a six-month airport exhibit in 2016. Closer to home, she is a Radnor High School Hall of Famer, where she gave the 2016 commencement address. Additionally, Beth is the daughter of Kep Kephart, a longtime BMPC member.
I hope you will join us on Sunday, October 27, at 11:15 a.m. in Congregational Hall to hear Beth’s lecture and to practice some memoir writing of your own. I guarantee it will be a wonderful time together, and will provide you with the resources to pass your unique story on to others. Every story deserves to be heard and told, and Beth will help you do just that.
You can register for this event with Beth Kephart by clicking here.