Tag: memoir

The Return of Tracy Beth Richardson


A couple of months ago, as we were stuffing our blocks into the cubbies after a yoga class, a woman I saw frequently but knew only as “the short one with the beautiful blond hair” introduced herself. Alex Hewett is one of the producers of the Baltimore/DC chapter of Mortified, a show where adults present diaries, letters and other archival materials from their childhoods. She wondered if maybe I, or some of my students, would be interested in performing.

Keeping Up With Caitlyn


Last night at school, my student Amelia had a question. “As writers,” she asked, “do we have to feel shame for liking books written by celebrities? Because —” She cast down her big brown eyes and gathered her courage. “I love them.”

Big Fish: Thomas Dolby, Pop Music Star-Turned-Hopkins Professor


If the digital media world were a globe like our physical one, Thomas Dolby would have circled it already, and then some. Many know him for the popular music fame he achieved as a masterful synth player (“She Blinded Me with Science,” “Hyperactive”) and MTV standout in the 1980s, as well as his wide-ranging work as a producer and keyboardist for other artists.

The Darkness We Project


mountain-298999_640Writer Lindsay Fleming spends the summer mentally composing titles for moments of her current life–and likewise learning the value of erasing them.

The summer reading she did not get to, on bedside stand and desk, whispered the bones of an essay: A Writer’s Diary, Moments of Being, The Archetypal Symbolism of Animals, A Story Like the Wind. For that matter, it had been a summer of titles, disembodied heads, essays never executed.

Ray Lewis Is Writing His Memoirs



i feel like going on small

Between his childhood in Florida and his current stint as an NFL commentator, Ray Lewis did a lot of interesting things — like, oh, say, winning two Super Bowls, inventing a dance, and being indicted on murder charges.

UPDATE: Patrick Smithwick and “Flying Change” Win Top Honors


UPDATE:  Local writer, teacher, and jockey Patrick Smithwick won last week  the Tony Ryan Book Award for his memoir, Flying Change: A Year of Racing, Family and Steeplechasing.  The $10,000 prize and a custom-designed Irish crystal trophy were presented to Smithwick on April 10 during an evening reception at Castleton Lyons farm in Lexington, Kentucky.

See our interview about the book and racing with Smithwick below. Congratulations Patrick!

Flying Change book jacketOriginally published on April 5, 2013 – Local writer Patrick Smithwick’s book, Flying Change: A Year of Racing, Family and Steeplechasing has been named a finalist for the seventh annual Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award, a prize for the best of racing literature. Flying Change, about Smithwick’s decision — and the impact on his family — to get ready in just nine months to ride in the Maryland Hunt Cup, followed Racing with My Father, which was also a finalist for the Tony Ryan Book Award, about growing up with his father Paddy Smithwick, a famous steeplechase jockey.

The $10,000 first-prize winner will be announced on April 10 at Castleton Lyons, a Thoroughbred facility near Lexington, Kentucky.

With My Lady’s Manor, the Grand National and The Hunt Cup a few weeks away, we thought we’d catch up with Smithwick, who heads the English department at Harford Day School in Bel Air, to learn more about the acclaimed book.

What compelled you to set the nine-month goal for yourself?

Between Alaska and Baltimore: An Interview with Acclaimed Memoirist Leigh Newman



Leigh Newman and I were two among the legions of blue-uniformed girls at Baltimore’s Roland Park Country School in the late 1980s. She was a couple of years behind me, a condition that sometimes renders younger girls invisible, but Leigh was never that. Despite being quiet, she was both luminous and likable. I was happy to reconnect with Leigh in our 30s, through the New York/Baltimore writing circuit. And I was even happier to read her lyrical, honest memoir Still Points North: Surviving the World’s Greatest Alaskan Childhood (Dial Press, March 2013).

SUBTITLE!: The Long, Explanatory, Marketing-Oriented String of Words No Nonfiction Book Can Live Without


If our Marion Winik had a personal subtitle, readers, what would it be?

For the past couple years, I’ve been looking for a publisher for a memoir of my adventures since my second marriage went bust in 2008. Readers of this column will remember some of these stories — what they lack in romance, they make up in ridiculousness. While most people in my age group date with dignity, judiciousness, and a certain reserve, my approach was more…haphazard, shall we say, and culminated not with a honeymoon but with a two-week stay in Johns Hopkins Hospital. But even my hepatitis C is kind of a funny story.

Star Poet Alan Kaufman to Read "Drunken Angel" in Greektown


Acclaimed poet and author Alan Kaufman reads in Greektown this Thursday evening at 7, at the Acropolis Restaurant, 4718 Eastern Avenue at Oldham Street in Greektown. Dean Bartoli Smith emcees; Rafael Alvarez and Betsy Boyd, Baltimore Fishbowl’s senior editor, will read short fiction.

“Rebel poet” Kaufman — who gets compared to the likes of Henry Miller and Jack Kerouac — will read from his new memoir, Drunken Angel, an unvarnished chronicle of his jagged journey from alcoholism to sobriety, his personal spiritual quest and his quest to find the daughter he abandoned.

Kaufman is also the author of the memoir Jew Boy, the novel Matches, and is the editor of The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry. Key in helping to establish the Spoken Word movement, Kaufman was born in Brooklyn and lives in San Francisco. He is the son of a French holocaust survivor. Dave Eggers said of Kaufman’s Jew Boy, “There is more passion here than you see in 20 other books combined.” Go here to read his poem, “Who We Are.”

Come for a diverse literary show, free Greek appetizers and live accordion music!

And watch for regular monthly Greektown readings throughout 2012, always on Thursday evening, all curated by Alvarez — most to be held at neighborhood restaurants, with free-of-charge goodies to nosh.

Taxicab Confessional: A Baltimore Cabbie Publishes His Own True Story


A couple of months ago, my friend Thomas gave me a book he’d picked up for free at The Book Thing — Hey Cabbie!, a memoir by Baltimore cab driver and former police officer Thaddeus Logan. A pioneer of self-publishing (Hey Cabbie! was first printed in 1983 by “Logan Enterprises”), the author worked as a vice cop from 1969 until 1976, when he turned in his badge and gun in exchange for a taxi driver’s medallion — one of 1,100 or so permits offered in Baltimore City for cab drivers to operate within its boundaries. There were three printings of Hey Cabbie!, two hardback and one paperback, in which Logan invested around $5000 from his own pocket.

As long as you don’t mind a bit of circuitousness and repetition — and as long as you’re not a stickler for perfect grammar and punctuation — Hey Cabbie! is an engrossing read. Honest, up-front and opinionated, Logan makes it clear that driving a cab in Baltimore can be a sordid business, especially during the late 70s and early 80s. He picks up drunks, junkies, hookers and johns; he’s regularly cheated out of his fare, and when he’s not watching the road, he glimpses all kinds of unsavory business through his rear-view mirror. He gets hit on, robbed, beaten up and abused; in one anecdote, a homeless woman with her wig on backwards urinates in the back of his cab, and in another, gangsters hold him up at gunpoint. On the plus side, he gets invited to swanky parties, hears some fascinating tales, and accepts plenty of favors from attractive ladies in lieu of cab fare. 

In one passage, Logan explains the different ways in which cab drivers are addressed by men and women of various races and age groups (the author’s original eccentric punctuation and spelling have been retained): “Young black males will call the cabbie and their friends either ‘Yoe or Moe.’ The meaning of those names are unknown, but they are of ethnic origin and considered uncomplementary. The older blacks and whites, (let’s say of the middle class) will refer to you as ‘Mack.’ The elderly poor whites may sometimes refer to you as ‘boy.’ Women and the sophisticated will refer to you as ‘driver or cabbie.'”

During one ride, Logan recalls, “I turned to say something to the fare regarding his destination and to my surprise, I was confronted by this five- foot-long Boa Constrictor Snake which was wrapped around the man’s body.” On another occasion, he picks up a woman and her three children and notices she’s hiding something under her coat. “I asked her what she had under her coat and she showed me a butcher’s knife that was about 12 inches long. I said, “What are you doing with that knife, Miss?” She stated that she was going to kill the children’s father and the b**ch that he is laying with. Then she stated that she wanted his children to witness the incident.”

Logan has a penchant for italics, bold font and capital letters, his paragraph structure is seemingly random, and some of the vignettes seem to peter out without reaching a point, but the anecdotes are so engaging, you quickly forget the book’s formal anomalies. There’s a lot of light philosophizing among the stories, too. “The scroungiest dressed person could be one of the most highly intelligent and nicest people, and vice versa,” Logan informs us. “The same applies to tipping habits. There is just no formula to determine who is going to give you that extra money.”

Reading Hey Cabbie! is a bit like taking a taxi ride through the streets of Baltimore. It’s a wandering, fragmentary and sometimes halting journey, but there are some intriguing sights along the way. The book is long out of print, so keep an eye out for used copies at your local thrift store.


“Hidden Baltimore” is a new column by Mikita Brottman, investigating the stranger side of our city. Brottman teaches literature and film studies at MICA.