Abra Goes

on theatre, running, writing, and looking up

Archive for the ‘writers’ Category

Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson, pronounced

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Just a note to wish congratulations: Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson married earlier this month.

Both Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson are heroes of mine. Artists of all mediums: musicians, multi-media creators & producers, writers…Laurie received the first fellowship from NASA. She builds her own violins.

If I could squish any two people in the world together and BE them, it would be Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson. I would also settle for a long conversation. I have settled, however, for a friendly encounter a few years ago:

Any theatre person in NYC will tell you that just because your pockets are empty doesn’t mean you can’t see good theatre. One way to do so is by volunteer ushering. You show up an hour early, take people’s tickets and get to see the show for free. You usually meet like minded people and have an interesting time because everyone talks to ushers. They’re approachable.

So there I am at St. Anne’s Warehouse on a Sunday afternoon taking tickets for Cynthia Hopkin’s new show Accidental Nostalgia. Smiling, taking tickets, pointing to seats. Turn around and Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson are standing there, both in sweatshirts holding a diet coke and rice wrapped in seaweed, hair ruffled.

I had to sit in front of them during the show so I wouldn’t stare at their hair the whole time, styled in what hipsters refer to as ‘pieces’. I didn’t subject them to my gushing. I didn’t even tell them where their seats were. I guess I froze, but I prefer to think I respected their, uh, privacy.

A few months later, I found their contact info in a rolodex that wasn’t mine, & sent them both a letter offering them parts in a show- still waiting for that reply. Or maybe my letter was lost in the mail?

Anyway, I wish them the best.


Written by abragoes

April 24, 2008 at 7:16 pm

Posted in NYC, writers

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Happy Poetry Month, Allen Ginsberg

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April is poetry month. Poetry and plays are my first love – I am remiss for not acknowledging this sooner in the month. I blame the IRS for distracting the country.

What came first: Taxes or Poetry?

Last night, instead of adding a final smiley face to a query letter, I picked up an old collection of Emily Dickinson and read poems. Skipping around, jotting down ideas, re-reading and re-reading and reading out loud.

I read poems when they come to me randomly, but I haven’t sought a poet’s work out since I can’t remember when. It was good.

Then I picked up Robert Frost to read about blueberries and swinging from trees. And then it was late, but I went to my very very first love… the first time I had to re-read a poem… and then read it out loud… and then stare at the sentences and find the poet’s picture and read everything else he’d ever written. My first love was Allen Ginsberg.

The first adaptation I ever wrote was Ginsberg’s ‘Howl’ – into a 30 minute screenplay (that was not only the first painful thing I’d ever written, but my first time winning any kind of writing award). Closing scene: a young immigrant girl in a 1930s NYC street market with a stolen orange in one hand and waving with the other.

Ginsberg taught at Brooklyn College, but sadly passed away in ’97. His poems continue to shade and humanize my perception of NYC. His poems showed me what writing can be, really writing, the act in which you cannot stop, responding to life with a point of view. He showed the world a form of human expression that, even at its most vulnerable, ignites (for lack of a better word).

I also love his grin.

Thank you for writing, Allen Ginsberg.

Written by abragoes

April 16, 2008 at 6:23 pm

Posted in writers

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Jen Miller’s book hits the shelves! The Jersey Shore: Atlantic City to Cape May

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down the shore with jen

Jen A Miller’s book came out yesterday. The Jersey Shore: Atlantic City to Cape May is available now, which means you can sneak a trip to the shore before the post-memorial day influx of beach goers and do so while reaping the benefits of Jen Miller’s research and infective enthusiasm for all things Jersey Shore.

I’m looking forward to adding this to my bookshelf. Though I’m from Jersey, my scope of knowledge is narrow, particularly on the shore area. As an escape destination, a place to relax and remove from routines, I always go where I know and don’t even see the places that aren’t pre-determined on my route.

In addition to the subject being so close to home, I’m compelled to get this book because Jen is such an engaging writer. I discovered her over a year ago through the Renegade Writer blog, and am enjoying following her career. Her voice is engaging & informative. Jen is also a runner and a prolific book reviewer.

You can win a copy of Jen’s book on her blog by posting a Jersey shore memory of your own in the comments by April 18th.

Congratulations, Jen!

Written by abragoes

April 15, 2008 at 2:49 pm

For all the lawns of Dandelion weed seeds

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I wish this story in the Christian Science Monitor by Miriam C. Daum existed when I was a kid, getting yelled at for blowing dandelion weed seeds over my dad’s lawn. I could have used it to explain what I could not articulate to him then: Dandelions belong everywhere; to be eaten, smeared, plucked into bouquets, roasted as coffee (who knew?), extracted for honey, and spread with giant gusts of late summer breath.

A perfect example of taking something so everyday as your appreciation for dandelions and stringing a personal essay full of research, insights and plenty of arguments on behalf of this beautiful yellow flower; striking a careful balance between nostalgia, opinion and fact.

My fondest memories of playing on sports teams include

1) picking dandelions in the outfield and storing them in my softball mitt

2) smearing the year petals across my cheeks and forehead, to intimidate opposing soccer teams, of course.

My favorite excerpts:

But maybe in their happiest task of all – dandelions are a children’s flower. Unburdened by adult “do-not-touch” admonitions like those for thorny roses, dainty delphiniums, or elegant orchids, dandelions seem to welcome the embrace of small, sweaty hands.


There, “dandelion children” is a term describing those who, although neglected by their parents and left to fend for themselves, somehow keep their faces “turned toward the sun” and, in spite of all, survive and bloom and grow.

Read the whole essay here.

Written by abragoes

April 10, 2008 at 7:24 pm

Posted in looking up, writers

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Why do you want to write?

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The Backspace Writers’ site has this excerpt up from David Morrell’s THE SUCCESSFUL NOVELIST: A LIFETIME OF LESSONS ABOUT WRITING & PUBLISHING.


His point reiterates what each of my dramatic writing teachers at Tisch said: Write what scares you. Morrell goes in depth, clarifying what this takes from a writer and why it is necessary if you ever want to go the distance.


There’s inherent energy in your work when you go to that place, even if you don’t understand it. If you write because you have to, which Morrell says should be the writer’s only reason to write (and I agree), then you have something to say. It’s your job as a writer to tap into where your urge to write comes from.


This May marks ten years for me of seriously studying the writing craft. I moved to NYC a pretentious NYU student ready to become a writer, as though there was a certification or badge that would soon stamp me ‘there’ or ‘one of them’.

What scares me more = writing about what scares me. My ego is obstructing this path. I like to think the worlds of my imagination are far superior than my past. Perhaps part of maturing is not trying so hard to separate the two.

Written by abragoes

March 11, 2008 at 3:06 pm

Therese Fowler’s Souvenir debuts

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Novelist Therese Fowler’s blog is the first blog ever that hooked me. I stumbled onto it in an effort to learn more about the publishing industry, and learn I did.

Souvenir officially hit shelves yesterday. I had the supreme pleasure of reading an advanced copy of this book, and I recommend it to anyone who knows how to read.

As I told my sister in shouting caps: IT’S GREAT. Souvenir is a tangible form of human expression. Told from three very different perspectives, this story unfolds the past and moves the present forward in a suspended rhythm that consumes the best and most difficult moments of life.

I don’t need to know what the plot of a book is to buy it. I don’t need to know who the author is or who the writers are who endorse the book. Sometimes a good cover will get me to pick a book up and consider it. But always, I need to be drawn in to the world of the story within the first page or two. If the writer has a voice, I want to read how they do what they do.

Souvenir is one of those books that feel right in your hands. The size, font, and texture of the paper feel right, which is important whether you’re standing on the subway at rush hour or propped up by a pillow late at night.

I also always take book recommendations from friends, reviews, and Blogs.

Do you want to read a good book? -one you’ll stay up till 4am with and affectionately recommend to friends after?

Pick up Souvenir in your local bookstore and read the first few pages. And check out Therese’s blog, especially on those days when you need a boost of motivation. Therese wrote and studied the craft for years before the ‘overnight’ excitement of her debut novel. I look forward to following her career.

Written by abragoes

February 13, 2008 at 2:50 pm

Posted in writers

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