0317 higher learning writing senior memoir slejzi

Write It Down at Inprint Senior Memoir Workshop

A Tupperware of cantaloupe goes around the table at Finnigan Park Community Center in the Fifth Ward, passed among six women, ranging in age from their fifties to their nineties. Since 1996, Inprint—Houston’s leading literary nonprofit organization—has offered free, 10-week senior memoir workshops like this one, serving nearly 1,000 Houstonians.

“The classes give me an anchor,” says 75-year-old Rochelle Brackman, who’s participated in the program for three-and-a-half years and written about everything from meeting Roy Rogers as a child to her frustrations with the election. “I’ve traveled most of my life, and if I don’t write down my experiences, they’ll be lost forever.”

The workshop not only provides an enriching, mentally stimulating outlet, it also serves as a kind of support group for an oft-underserved demographic. “It’s not bingo or busy-work,” says Inprint associate director Marilyn Jones. “They learn the craft from the instructors, while also forming an intimate bond with members.”

Josephine Mitchell, fondly called “Josie” by the group, is an MFA graduate student at UH who began teaching the workshop last year. She quickly discovered that her students—many of whom are more than twice her age and have taken the workshops for years—have plenty to teach her, too.

“I’ve learned a great deal,” says Mitchell. “Listening to stories about their children, spouses, travels or just everyday observations has been enlightening. It’s given me another angle from which to view the present.”

Draw the Line at MFAH's Glassell School of Art

The school’s long roster of classes includes a seven-week “Brush and Ink Washes” workshop, in which students create ethereal black-and-white artworks using a timeless technique dating back to the 8th century. Keep it Houston and do a landscape of Buffalo Bayou or a still-life of a grackle.

Snap To It at the Houston Center for Photography

Learn the basics from local pros at classes like “Composition I: From Good to Great.” A DSLR camera with manual controls and flash drive is recommended; Instagram filters are not.

Dance It Out at the Houston Dance Factory

The sensual bachata, which originated in the Dominican Republic, is similar to salsa, incorporating plenty of hip swinging, hair flipping and snappy leg work. Learn the basics during a month-long course taught by SalsaEddy, who, after 19 years of teaching dance, knows his way around the floor.

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