Brandywine Writers’ Circle, of Delaware and Pennsylvania
In the fall of 2011, the joy I felt upon the publication of my memoir coincided with several people in my journal groups expressing the desire to do creative writing. In the spirit of “Paying it Forward” for the wonderful support I received when writing my book, I offered to facilitate a weekly group for them to make that leap. Seven years later, Brandywine Writers’ Circle now has a diverse group of 17, as well as alumni, working on a wide range of creative writing and visual art projects. Tom Davis is president of the alumni association. BWC holds three writing retreats a year. We have also provided awards to students of a local performing arts school,donations to a veteran’s writing group, and an artistic grant to our own member. It is my pleasure to introduce our 17 members and seven alumni.
Kathleen Buckalew is a native of Wilmington, DE, with a BA in art from the University of Delaware, and an MFA in photography from the George Washington University. She has worked as a printer and photographer at the Delaware Art Museum, and Hagley Museum and Library in Wilmington, DE, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. Ms. Buckalew teaches digital photography at the Delaware Art Museum, Delaware College of Art and Design, and Cecil College, along with occasional workshops in iphoneography, portrait, and documentary photography. She works as a freelance photographer, has many personal projects, and exhibits her work regularly. Ms. Buckalew is available for free-lance work, private instruction, speaking about and showing her work, and consultation about photography: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Patricia is a Quaker writer and community organizer who is working on a memoir of a time she lived in a war zone.
Helene is an Educational Consultant with over 25 years of experience. She has served on over 15 boards in various capacities. Helene is often consulted to present leadership strategies utilizing a paradigm in decision making, critical thinking workshops. In her work as a reading specialist and test administrator she mentors students in various aspects of writing and reading. She is currently working on a memoir culled from journals she kept while simultaneously taking care of the health challenges of her mother and brother.
Rob s a Wilmington native. He attended theUniversity of Delaware where he majored in Biology. He attended Boston College Law School and then returned to Delaware to practice law. Rob served as an Assistant City Solicitor and City Solicitor for the City of Wilmington and then went into the private sector where he continues to practice law. He has served as an unofficial adviser/legal representative to the Delaware Community Reinvestment Action Council for many years and is also a member of Wilmington in Transition, a community group dedicated to nurturing local, renewable resources, where he works on alternative energy matters.
Linda retired after 17 years on the development staff at Winterthur Museum. Her poetry and nonfiction have been published in local and national magazines. She is a founding board member of Cancer Support Community Delaware, and a volunteer with Delaware Hospice. Linda teaches gentle yoga and meditation to children and adults at the Brandywine YMCA, Beyond Fifty, and Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (University of Delaware). Her current writing adventure is a collection of her poetry and nonfiction, to be titled “Sea Glass: Pieces from My Life.”
Born in New York City, Elizabeth Higginbotham’s education and career enabled her to experience other cities, including Boston, Pittsburgh, Memphis, Ann Arbor, St. Paul, and now Wilmington, Delaware. After teaching on the Sociology faculty and developing the Center for Research on Women at the University of Memphis, Elizabeth moved to the University of Delaware as a Professor of Sociology in affiliation with Women’s Studies and Black American Studies. Elizabeth is widely recognized as a major scholar of the intersection of race, class and gender. She authored Too Much to Ask: Black Women in the Era of Integration and co-edited Race and Ethnicity in Society: The Changing Landscape (Wadsworth-Cengage Learning, fourth edition 2015) with her colleague Margaret Andersen. Now a Professor Emerita and currently a Research Associate at the Hagley Library and Museum, Elizabeth is exploring new ways of communicating the complexities of race, gender and social class in the lives of people.
Julius “Jay” Jackson is is a native of Wilminngton, Delaware, and a graduate of the Willmingto public school system. Julius is a graduate of Howard University with a B.S. in Political Science and a J.D. from Howard’s School of Law. After more than forty-five years in public service he recently retired from public service employment. He continues to volunteer and serve the community through his church and other community organizations. He now looks forward to writing about his experiences in life and sharing those experiences in memoir form with family and friends.
Karen Jessee spent years teaching English and writing as well as directing and writing children’s shows, doing makeup for community theaters, face painting at fairs and festivals, designing haunted houses, teaching playwriting, and making masks for theater and opera productions. When she retired from teaching, she started her own business as a professional organizer and was a writer for the industry. She also became a contributing writer to several Delaware publications and Events Coordinator for the Delaware Press Association. She has traveled extensively. Her foray into creating presentations about women’s historical clothing and accessories began when she was dressed in her 1860s style giving a tour in an historic home. Realizing that her audience had heard these same details before in other homes, she said, “Well, you might be interested in what I’m wearing under this dress.” Out of that moment, several shows were born. Karen is a speaker through the Delaware Humanities Forum. Karen has traveled to England twice for fashion study and the Jane Austen Promenade. Annual visits to Gettysburg have allowed time to further research and to add to her growing collections.
Michaela studied English at Providence College and Social Work at Bryn Mawr. She has been journaling since she could write and is grateful for the warm support of Brandywine Writers’ Circle. She lives with her family in Havertown, PA.
Shawn Le’Mon, a man who has always been passionate about the arts, was thrust into early retirement from the corporate world. Consequently, having more time on his hands now, he uses it to pursue more of his love for creative writing, music and voiceover. With two creative writings in progress, Shawn hopes to offer inspiration and healing while cleverly entertaining his readers. In Student in a Strange Land, a memoir, he depicts his toggle between two elementary schools in a segregated education system. You Can’t Bury the Truth, a novel, is the story of a man who, while handling his grandparents’ last will and testament, discovers disturbing documents about himself, which sets his life in a tailspin. Shawn joined BWC in the first quarter of 2018 and is very much enjoying the fellowship and camaraderie.
Charanjeet Singh Minhas
Charanjeet believes that words are very worthy. He thinks that those who love them, and know how, when and where to use them are SUCCESSFUL—in life, love, work, politics, academics or whatever else they choose to pursue. Published works, both in English and Punjabi, have included a fictional novel, short stories and poems.
Sharon Moore is a retired educator from Red Clay School District pursuing her interest in the arts. Moore is a member of the speakers bureau with the Delaware Humanities Forum and presents two programs through them. She is currently working on a memoir collection.
Carolyn Murdic was born in Nashville Tennessee. Her life experiences are chronicled in a series of narratives written in the early 90s. These narratives are being compiled into her memoir, Valley of the Shadows, in Illuminated Retrospect. She is a career educator spanning 40 years of service teaching preschoolers to the adult learner. Carolyn is a 30 year member of the Theosophical Society and lifelong student of metaphysics and the Ancient Wisdom. Presently, she is a professionally Licensed Spiritual Coach facilitating the process of transformation for many through her individual coaching, classes, workshops, study groups, support groups, and motivational speaking.
Linda is a retired Engineering Associate from Verizon. An award winning artist, she works in pastels and acrylics. She has written several published articles and for several years she wrote a blog: http://Ponderings-everyday-spirituality.blogspot.com. Currently, Linda is a pastoral care volunteer at Nemours Hospital for Children and the Congregant Care Minister for the Center for Joyful Living.
Margaret is a retired physician, researcher, and professor, authored over 100 articles published in the medical literature. She has kept a journal since the age of 12 and writes creatively. She is also a visual artist and musician. At the left is a portrait she did of Goonie, who shared her life for 30 years.
Dave is multi-talented. As a musician, he’s worked both in the studio and on stage playing trumpet, guitar, and bass guitar. He developed audio production skills that later took him into broadcasting. Today he writes mysteries involving a radio announcer and production specialist who happens to be blind, as is Dave. The first two Jack Rondell stories have been produced in audio format with plans to publish them in print very soon. Dave also does voice-over work, and records original music. He and his wife, Deb, hope to teach their sighted neighbors that negative attitudes about blindness are more disabling than blindness itself.
Deb is a teaching elder (minister) in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and serves as pulpit supply pastor in New Castle Presbytery. She has written poetry and is slowly working through writing chapters of a memoir. Deb is a fierce advocate for the elderly and disabled and was a JP Morgan Chase Leadership Fellow to the 2018 National Council of the Blind Convention. Deb is constantly knitting or crocheting, much of which is charity work. She has begun journaling with Joan Leof in January 2018 and this has helped greatly in her memoir writing and believing that her writing is important, even that which she keeps private. Deb is currently learning conversational Spanish and dreams of presenting a sermon in Spanish. She is pictured here with her fifth seeing eye dog, Suzy.
Mimi was a Navy journalist for several years in the US Navy Reserves. It’s been over a decade since she has written for publication, but she has been journaling. Gratitude journaling has been a wonderful tool for her. Recently, she submitted an essay about her reserve unit, Combat Camera, to the Real Simple essay contest. Her blog is at batmanmassage.com.
Kaye’s life was completely turned inside out as she became caregiver and then a widow when her husband died at age 58. With a new priority list and definition of success, she left the corporate world to fulfill a lifelong need to write. She is currently working on, Weeping Without Tears, Lessons in Legacy, exploring her grief experiences and the lessons she learned while researching her ancestors’ lives. Kaye is also working on a couple of other projects including a biography of a 125 year old building on the corner of the Cameron Street Bridge in Harrisburg, PA, and a fiction piece about a library archivist who is stealing one of a kind documents to reclaim her family’s ancestral properties.
Tom, a retired pastor and Commissioned Interfaith Peacemaker in New Castle Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A., joined BWC a few months after it started. He was seeking support while he worked on a memoir, Double Exposure: A Veteran Returns to Vietnam, recalling his return trip there in 2012. (In 1970 he had served as an adviser to a South Vietnamese junk base in the Mekong Delta). An avid photographer, Tom used that writing project to experiment using photographs in ebooks. He launched Teledavis LLC in 2007, a company to help faith communities and small non-profits with WordPress websites. In 2015 he founded a non-profit 501C3, the Interfaith Veterans Workgroup, which helps veterans with post traumatic stress and moral injury. Over the years, he has posted on this website and also in MATRYOSHKA SECRET FACEBOOK GROUP. He now serves as President of Brandywine Writers’ Circle Alumni Group.
Alexa is active in her community as a certified Laughter Yoga Teacher and Laughter Ambassador. She leads weekly laughter club meetings in Media, as well as Laughter Yoga sessions and motivational presentations for private groups and corporations. She also offers Laughter Yoga Leader Certification trainings. Alexa enjoys being part of Brandywine Writers’ Circle, where she can improve upon her writing 132 skills and learn from others in the group. She is a Toastmaster CC, leads a French Conversation Group in Media, and is a member of the Rose Tree -Media Optimist Club. Alexa loves to travel and has lived in New York, Zurich, Beijing and Paris. She has led an adventurous past as a fashion model, Cordon Bleu chef, a restaurateur, an International interpreter, a cultural specialist and concierge. She speaks five languages and loves learning more about other cultures and connecting with people from all over the world.
Born and raised in NYC, Mary-beth graduated with distinction in English from Colorado College, and from Boston University with an M. Ed. in Reading and Language. Most of her professional career has been as a middle school teacher from which she recently retired after 27 years at the Tatnall School in Wilmington, DE. Mary-beth is a published poet, storyteller, and mother of two grown boys. She intends to engage and practice the arts more now that her time is less claimed. Mary-beth has performed multi-cultural stories in various schools, libraries, book stores and outdoor venues. She is also a member of The Network of Biblical Storytellers and frequently performs scripture in tandem with a fellow storyteller at various places of worship. Mary-beth has joined BWC to reconnect more deeply with her poetry, her personal experiences, and the telling of wisdom stories from many cultures.
Doris Larson Doris is the author of two travel books. Her travel articles have been published in regional and national publications. She has presented writing workshops and instituted a yearly retreat for women writers in Ohio. In retirement, Doris is interested in writing health and wellness articles.
Five years ago, when Dale joined the Brandywine Writers Circle, she wanted to write her stories and life lessons for future generations. With the support of the BWC, she completed an autobiography, a spiritual autobiography, and what she calls her “journey to wholeness”. Dale recently combined these writings into a book for her family, titled This Time Around—A Journey of Self-Discovery.
One member’s testimony:
Having belonged to the Brandywine Writers’ Circle for almost three years, I’ve read several authors who lead similar groups elsewhere. Comparing their accounts to my own experience I find that writers devoted to writing together learn more about themselves, and heal whatever needs healing. English classes are scarcely ever about that. They’re about improving communication skills, and perhaps if one is lucky to have an excellent teacher, improving technique and developing a distinctive voice. But English classes are normally not intentionally therapeutic. This is what differentiates writers groups from writing classes, even the most diligent.
My few years of experience in a writers group convince me that the tonic for healing comes from within. One’s own stories eventually salve one’s own wounds. Some stories do not come forth easily. They must be drawn out by much painful prying, as with a decayed tooth. During this, an able writing group does not apply opiates, but calms and urges the patient to endure until the ordeal is past and the task is accomplished. We write to grow wiser and stronger, or perhaps in the darkest days, just to survive.