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Updated: Nov 8, 2020

Special thanks to Myles Ludwig for this guest contribution...

A memoir is an adventure: a magic carpet ride and a time machine.

Diedre Bair’s cozy prose (“Parisian Lives”) transported me to the corner booth in a louche Paris bar-tabac where she took tea with Samuel Beckett in the 1970s as she began her biography of the enigmatic author of “Waiting for Godot” to the garden of Peggy Guggenheim’s grand Venetian palazzo where the doyenne of modernism was wrapped “in an elegant silk caftan, golden slippers and the most extravagant cat’s eye sunglasses, the likes of which I had not seen since the 1950s.”

Memoir took me from my own New York apartment at 96 Perry Street back to the early 1960s and a few doors across the same little street for a view of the tempestuous relationship of painter Adele Morales and novelist Norman Mailer (“The Last Party”) and, a decade later, only blocks from a young Bob Dylan’s folk-singing debut in a funky Greenwich Village club (“Chronicles”) before whisking me uptown in a limo to the sophisticated scarlet-walled salon of the flamboyant Diana Vreeland (“D.V.”) whose imperious personality animated the pages of Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue.

Author Myles Ludwig

These memoirs bring me into their lives and your memoir is just as valuable as a gift to your children and grandchildren, and to yourself as well. I know that when my parents shared the story of their courtship with me around the dinner table on a Sunday night, I felt the warmth of their affection and could begin to see them not only as parents, but as people with their own complexities. Your memoir is about who you are rather than what you did. It is about the “why” rather than the “what”.

Of course, those two stories are intimately connected. We all lead two lives: an exterior life, the story of what we do; and an interior life, the story of how we feel and think about it. An effective memoir is the story of their connection.

Readers always want the answer to the question: what is he/she really like?

The first story - what we did – is a matter of facts. But the second story – our thoughts and feelings – the why – though more difficult to access, is the difference between a compelling memoir engaging the reader and a simple recitation of events.

Unlike other forms of writing – fiction, nonfiction, poetry, plays, movies, etc. -- memoir is a genre without rules. It has no template, no map we can pull out of a drawer and copy. We must provide the route to help our readers navigate the terrain of our story, and it’s your voice, your style, its authenticity and uniqueness, carrying the reader up the mountains and across the rivers of your life.

The best memoir allows the reader to feel as if you are a good friend in the room with the author sharing a confidence with you. So the memoir writer has to be part reporter, part detective and part cartographer as Graham Greene suggests in his “Journey Without Maps”.

This is especially true if your reader is your children or grandchildren. They know almost nothing about how you came to make the decisions that brought you to them.

It’s time to start your memoir. Let me help you?

MEMOIR MATTERS, an 8 week virtual workshop, is being offered at two levels. The Beginner Series will meet on THURSDAYS, 2:30 - 4:30 PM NOVEMBER 12 - JANUARY 21, 2021 and the Intermediate Series will meet on FRIDAYS, 2- 4 PM, NOVEMBER 13 - JANUARY 22, 2021. For registration and other information please click HERE.

Author photo by, Elvio Salazar

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In 1845, the United States Congress chose a single date for all national elections in all states. The first Tuesday after the first Monday in November was chosen so that there would never be more than 34 days between Election Day and the first Wednesday in December. This year the first Monday happens to be November 2nd, and the Coudert Institute will make the most of it with a spirited ELECTION EVE primer featuring The Hill's Editor at Large Steve Clemons and a 20-year veteran of Time Magazine, Margaret Carlson. Over three courses, these two well-seasoned political journalists will tackle multiple aspects of the most extraordinary election season in recent history. Coudert Institute Member Tickets and Non-Member Tickets are now available through this LINK. Please note that remote attendance is available for this program.

Throughout history, the race for the United States presidency has delivered its share of hotly contested elections between the Democratic Party, Republican Party and various third-party candidates. But, in terms of drama, 2020 may just take the cake? "President Trump is running like no one before, save himself in 2016," says Carlson. "He’s turned Biden into the incumbent." As Clemons and Carlson slug it out over the presidential race, during the program they'll also dive into Mitch McConnell and his first worrisome race in decades, against former pilot Amy McGrath. Will he remain Senate Majority Leader... or Senator? On the menu for "dessert", the two septuagenarians will tackle Trump’s threat to reject the election results and the dystopian nightmare that would follow.

Speaking on the nature of the historical pattern known as "October Surprises", in a recent appearance with Chip Reid on CBS Sunday Morning, Carlson suggests that some are carefully orchestrated, but some come out of the blue. "Is it a man-made (or woman-made) surprise, or is it an event beyond anyone's capacity to control... or, is it something in an ongoing scandal?" Although the phenomenon historically occurs in October, given this head spinning election season's volatility, could we also be in for some November surprises?

Margaret Carlson was Time Magazine's first woman columnist, and a panelist for 17 years on CNN's Capital Gang. She began her journalism career after graduating George Washington Law School at the Legal Times, a halfway house for unhappy members of the DC Bar. She also worked at Bloomberg News and The New Republic.

Prior to assuming his current role at The Hill, America's most read political media platform, Steve Clemons served as Editor at Large of The Atlantic.  He is proprietor of the popular political blog, The Washington Note.  He also founded and serves as Senior Fellow of the American Strategy Program at the New America Foundation where he previously served as Executive Vice President.  He appears frequently as a political commentator across major news networks in the U.S. and around the world and is also host of the popular weekly news show, The Bottom Line, which appears on the Al Jazeera English global network.

For this event, we are delighted to stream both Steve and Margaret in from the center of ALL the action, the nation's capitol... Washington D.C. This is an event not to be missed, and we hope that you'll join us for this historic kick-off to our Coudert Institute 2020 - 2021 Season!

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Updated: Oct 2, 2020

Imagine if all human beings treated each other with the empathy and love that

dogs feel for their owners? Now imagine a dog gaining the power of human speech through technological means, the whole world curious to hear what a dog has to say. What if that dog used her newfound ability to spread her message of a dog’s empathy to all human beings?  The Coudert Institute is excited to introduce a most unusual guest -- Daphne Simone, Cocker Spaniel. Raised in New York and Palm Beach by loving owners, Daphne Simone had her first taste of recognition when she won America’s Top Dog Model at the age of one. She went on to pen the book “I, Daphne Simone, World Leader (a True Story)”, which is her story of how she gained the ability to speak, and then used her voice to lift people up and help make the world a better place.  Lately, Daphne Simone has been creating a multitude of short, whimsical filmed segments on what she sees as our species’ biggest challenges, in which she presents her novel insights and solutions based on the innate sense of empathy that dogs feel for all human beings.  Her owner, Jeremy Wiesen, “assisted” Daphne Simone in the writing of her book and the creation of these videos. Jeremy is a retired Professor of Entrepreneurship who has taught at Wharton, NYU, Columbia, and Stanford among others, and is a creator of successful business and media ventures. When Daphne Simone came into his life he would look into her eyes and think, “If only humans could have this much empathy for each other.” And so, he enabled Daphne Simone to spread her unique message on how to apply a dog’s empathy toward solving national, global, and personal challenges.  In the two videos we are presenting to you today, Daphne Simone explains her passion for the growing movement to ensure women have an equal place in business, management and on boards of directors, and also discusses her novel ideas for how corporations should play an instrumental, empathetic role in fixing this country’s housing crisis.  Watch Daphne Simone’s videos by clicking on the links below...

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